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Honouring the Voices:


40 Years of First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous Health Research in Manitoba

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Background

“Honouring the Voices: 40 Years of First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous Health Research in Manitoba” is a research project that has worked towards documenting the stories and experiences of health research that has been conducted through the University of Manitoba.

Manitoba has been a leader in partnership-based research with First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous communities, organizations as well as university-based researchers for over forty years. While initial collaborations varied in their degree of collaboration, today’s partnerships reflect a respect for self-determination and Indigenous knowledges. Over four decades, the Manitoba research community has listened and learned from First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous communities and organizations, and used lessons to transform the context and practice of health research in Manitoba, Canada, and beyond. Still, there is a place for growth: it is time to reflect back, take stock of accomplishments and set the course for the future.

“Honouring the Voices” provides an opportunity to come together, hear stories of successes and challenges, and enhance our understandings of the partnerships that produced a revolutionary vision of how to engage in First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous health research.

We conducted over 50 interviews with people who have worked in health research through the University of Manitoba during the past forty years. We created videos, collected photographs, thoughts, ideas, memories and visions of a future where First Nations, Inuit, Metis, and Indigenous research continues to grow, thrive and be a priority. You will be able to find some of these items here.

We thank you for being part of the journey, exploring the website, and sharing your stories with us as we continue the dialogue.

The Research Journey

We come together, all experts in our own ways, with different skills, knowledges, experiences and thoughts. We come together, communities and academics, to envision research that supports communities’ needs and aspirations. It is this process of sharing our strengths that is transforming the way research is done.

Cindy Garson
Health Director, Fisher River Cree Nation

At the end of the project, at the end of the day so to speak, is that we would share some of our models of where we came from and where we are headed, share it with other First Nations, the successes so far, how we deliver services within our community."

Catherine Cook
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"There have been many people who are very committed to further develop the research process with communities, between community and university, and a lot of that has evolved into very positive relationships."

"The important piece is to connect immediately before you go too far down the road of developing the question. And sit with the community and just look at whether or not this is relevant to both the researcher and the community."

Javier Mignone
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences

"We had a very nice, very fruitful process of discussing the findings and the interpretation of the findings with the community members, and we had meetings with hundreds of people from the community, discussing the findings and interpreting them."

Judith Bartlett
Associate Professor & Adjunct Scientist (MCHP) (Retired), Department Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"Even before I approached the Manitoba Metis Federation to do the Aboriginal People Survey analysis with them, I spent at least three years engaging them just a little bit at a time [...]What was interesting is it took that long to make the relationship, to build a sense of trust that I’m here not simply to do a research project. I’m here to build a long term relationship, and then being Metis helps because this is about my family as much as it is about all other Metis in Manitoba […] How I ended up actually doing Metis research is that I had to move out of the academic environment. So even though I always had an office here, I actually moved and went and worked three and a half days a week at the Manitoba Metis Federation."

"[…] what I did with the Metis Need to Know Too study was continued with the academic, continued with the regional health authorities but added the community. So you now had a stool that had three legs."

Linda Larcombe
Assistant Professor, Department of Internal of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"So our research is pretty multidisciplinary, multi-holistic, and I think that’s largely because it’s being influenced by the First Nations communities themselves of what they want with research, and what research agendas are a priority for them, and because health for First Nations and for everybody, it’s a holistic concept. Separating out biological and social determinants of health doesn’t give you the whole picture."

Lisa Murdock
Program & Policy Consultant – Aboriginal Initiatives, Healthy Child Manitoba

"I remember one woman, I gave her report back to her and I told her this is my report, this is your transcript, you can keep it… Like it was a 213-page report, but she held it and she said “oh my God” She was just so happy and she said, “I’m going to keep this forever…” That’s the most enjoyable part, it’s when people have been able to release and to tell their story, even if it’s to nobody, that starts the healing process to a long history of whatever."

Marcia Anderson DeCoteau
Head, Section of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"I'm working with Mount Carmel Clinic on a project called Manito Ikwe Kagiikwe which is evaluating the program which supports substance involved women who are either pregnant or early parenting […] We are trying to do an evaluation that is under the guidance of a women's advisory council who are all women who have had those experiences before and the council is culturally safe, respectful, relationship-based and trauma informed. It's definitely a new paradigm of working in evaluation for me."

" […] the community identified both healthy eating and reducing smoking rates as priorities because it's an isolated community. They came up with the idea of instead of trying to track or survey individual consumption they would just track what was coming into the community via the shipments… so what they did with that information is they took it to chief and council and made a really well evidence-based decision independent of our research team to raise the tobacco tax in their community."

Michelle Driedger
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"We were scheduled to go up to this particular community that was a fly-in only community and got cancelled at the last minute and for very good reasons, there had been a death in the community […] when we were able to reschedule it became absolutely everything you were not supposed to do… And so we arrived and I think people were quite kind of distrustful of us because we hadn’t been there before. I mean, it’s the typical parachuting in and parachuting out and never have I ever felt so disingenuous being in that circumstance."

Pamela Orr
Professor, Department of Medicine (Section of Infectious Diseases), Medical Microbiology and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"There’s an overt hunger that people had, they literally didn’t have enough money to pay for food, nutritious food. And then there’s the hidden hunger, which is a way to describe vitamin deficiency and we were particularly interested in vitamin D because vitamin D is supposed to, perhaps, be protective for tuberculosis. So basically we met with the Chief and Council, myself and Dr. Larcombe and they said, “Well, you’re interested in tuberculosis and, of course, we are too but, you know, our immediate needs are to have shelter for our people and to have them have access to nutrition.” And we agreed that really all three were tied in."

Paul Hackett
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Saskatchewan

"The research that we’ve done portrays communities in a particular way and we’re kind of concerned about if this is acceptable, if it’s what people want and if they consider it to be of importance going forward. So we’re doing a consultation before we submit this next draft of the paper to publication."

Sharon Bruce
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"I started working with the community, the first year we set out as developing a governance structure for the study, which we did. It was a community Diabetes Advisory Group and the group was co-chaired by the Health Director and myself, and now we have also the Assistant Health Director is a co-chair[...] the group met for a year before we actually started doing any data collection, and it continues to function and it decides on everything from the direction of the research, the day-to-day operations of the research, who will be hired, what people will do, where it will take place within the community, and then what future projects will be, and also then dissemination."

Wanda Phillips-Beck
Nurse Research Manager, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"Given that I had prior existing relationships with these communities I was the most logical person to take on that role for the study manager. So working with health directors in the community and contacting the health directors, providing them with education and information on the purpose of the research project and what we hope to accomplish with the research and how it would benefit the community. Working with them from the very beginning."

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The Road to True Collaboration

Building a partnership means engaging before there is a project in place and continuing after the project is done to create a safe place for the sharing of knowledges. Creating and nurturing this space is a long-term commitment based on mutual respect and understanding. The best collaborations grow from relationships, friendships, and shared memories.

Brenda Elias
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"All organizations have their agendas and priorities. As in life and research, your primary focus is who you are going to make a difference for. Ultimately it is for those individuals and families that we work closest with."

Brian Postl
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"I think that engagement and that capacity to participate allows a sense of ownership about health and healthcare that I think has very positive long term consequences."

Donna Martin
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Manitoba

"Community leaders identified what they wanted. And I just feel so honoured that I could be a part of where the community is driving the research."

Catherine Cook
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"For me the most enjoyable aspect was being able to go back to community [… ] it was connecting with people who cared about the communities, were very good at what they did in terms of research, but also the ability to share that knowledge and expertise with communities who had some real concerns about the health of their community."

Ian Skelton
Senior Scholar (Retired), Department of City Planning, University of Manitoba

"Some communities we worked with - if the support of the chief and council is clear and if the community is also supportive – that makes it relatively easy. But that's not always the case. I've worked in ones in which band leadership thought that they should work with us on some specific projects, but not everybody in the community thought so."

Hannah Tait Neufeld
Assistant Professor, Applied Human Nutrition, University of Guelph

"I think now it’s expected that these partnerships need to happen and I think that’s definitely a good thing."

Jaime Cidro
Assitant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg

"Building relationships is very easy for me to do, and it doesn’t even seem like work, it’s just meeting people and getting to know people."

Javier Mignone
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences

"Every partnership will have differences and that’s part of the art in this work."

"The partnership itself is the core of the research. Sometimes almost more important than the actual research is that people are involved in the research."

"I believe you can’t do this type of work without partnerships. It wouldn’t be serious, it wouldn’t be valid, and it wouldn’t be ethical."

"The research itself is feasible because of the partnership, but the partnership itself, if it’s a healthy one, a good one, really benefits everybody."

John O’Neil
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

"In the absence of partnerships I would just say it’s bad science, bad research process and it’s unlikely the results of the research are going to be particularly useful to anyone."

"I think having that kind of partnership with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs at a structural level then enables the kind of community level involvement I think that we enjoyed in working with First Nations in Manitoba."

"I think in Manitoba through the creation of these partnerships, we were able to facilitate some of these clinical studies that are very difficult to do in other parts of the country."

Joseph Kaufert
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"When you work in a community and an environment for thirty years, there are people that end up being your friends. There are people that support you personally and professionally, there are people that give you critical feedback if you’re doing something that misrepresents or hurts the community. So they’re both colleagues, but they’re also friends."

"I realize that I can be an ally and work with people, but I can’t speak for that community. I have always tried to be an ally of people from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities, who can speak directly for the community."

Jonathan McGavock
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Manitoba

"You have to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard, and so if you have a hard-line and hard goals, like that’s really really really difficult."

"I see more partnerships that are true, that are driven by communities. Where communities are coming in and saying here’s what we need. Can you help us out? Here are the rules. This is how it’s going to work."

Josée Lavoie
Director, Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, University of Manitoba

"Every single partnership develops over time based on the pragmatic limitations and the resources and the time that people have, but we try to, for every project, I try to negotiate that."

"We have a set of skills that is unique, that is specialized, and that we can lend to research the priorities that are defined by our community partners."

"There's no cookie cutter approach to partnership and there's no cookie cutter approach to how to translate research into action. It's all based on context. But definitely the partnership is the way to go and it's the partnership that defines how that information can find utility for them."

Leona Star
Research Associate & Regional Coordinator for RHS & REEES, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"We need to be at the table to inform research projects, if it’s about us, we need to be at the table."

"It’s about developing that relationship to ensure that communities feel like they are assured that they are full partners in the research project. Often times those communities that aren’t fully onboard with research, there’s a reason for that."

"Elders have told us relationships take time to build because research is a relationship. Research is a relationship that is based on trust and it takes time to build that trust. Trust doesn’t happen overnight.

Leavina Brown
Elder and Former Minister of Health & Social Services, Nunavut

"We always have to have partnership side-by side. If people with degrees are going to go ahead with research, then the community members have to be side-by-side with them, and that’s what they did at the University of Manitoba. They formed partnerships and they worked.

Mabel Horton
Elder, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"With any community, it is important to involve the people interested in mutual goals, people who want to see goodness and healthy living in their area. I think people have to be involved in the community aspect, whether as a small group or a larger group of communities together. So a community – yeah, I don’t think it’s small. It’s got to expand. Even nationally and internationally, that could be considered part of a larger community. Because I speak my Cree language fluently, I think that all these terms that people ask us in English require an explanation that has a different meaning to us versus an English meaning. It’s all a different meaning and context to us, compared to researchers or non-Indigenous speaking people. So ‘community’ is an English term. If you hear, Iskonikan, that is speaking from a colonial perspective: it means “leftover land”. Or a Cree person might say Tipahaskan meaning “measured land” - both in reference to colonial history of the reserves. What we say to understand ‘community’ in the widest sense is Mamawinitowin, our word to convey living with each other, as a community, together in harmony."

Michelle Driedger
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"It’s a much more fulfilling way of doing research when you know that the research that you’re doing has benefit to not just yourself as an academic but benefit to those where you’re trying to address certain issues or trying to bring to light ways of maybe helping to provide services differently or how future kinds of recommendations could be made."

"Taking time, sitting down, talking with people, checking in, sharing food. Food is a really important part of getting to know somebody and having a chance to sit down and talk about, not the research, but about other things that are important in our lives, and then, yes, the research comes into it, but just having those opportunities to sit down, and discuss and to explore."

Patricia Martens
Former Director, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, University of Manitoba

"Whenever you work with First Nations and Metis, I think it’s important to establish a really good relationship. I need to understand them and they need to understand me, and we work together so that we mutually understand each other."

Paul Hackett
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Saskatchewan

"A lot of historians work alone or maybe with another historian, but often alone and they're not used to doing sort of reaching out. There are some that do, obviously, but I think most would simply- you know, I do my historical work and I publish my papers and away I go."

Sharon Macdonald
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"When ensuring that there is an equal partnership between Indigenous communities and big places like universities, there are going to be ups and downs, it’s not going to be smooth, but I think there’s a new opportunity as Indigenous students begin to take the leadership roles in those areas." "Universities have to be vigilant about the ethics and behaviours of their researchers. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t, but maybe we’ll see some emphasis in those areas."

Wanda Phillips-Beck
Nurse Research Manager, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"My relationship with the community is a little bit different than the one that the local research assistants were able to build. So we use their own community members to build those relationships at the community level which is how it should be rather than have someone like you and I go into the community and hope that we can get this all going and not being a member of that community. So building the relationships and the skills locally I think is important for research collaborations."

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Sharing Knowledge

Knowledge exchange is a two way process. It means learning from one another, from the first conversation to the end of the project and beyond. It is about finding common ground and honouring the contribution of every person. Knowledge sharing is meant to celebrate the research that has been done. Knowledge can also create possibilities for action. Those who must act need information in a way that is meaningful to them.

Brenda Elias
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"We always talk about how significant our work is. However, the life expectancy has not improved […] So there is the positive thing that we’re working to try to make a difference. And I think you also have to carry with you that what we’re trying to do is not making a difference at the same time."

Caroline Chartrand
Executive Director, Diabetes Integration Project

"If the community benefits from the research projects I say go for it. But if it’s going to be put onto a shelf and information gained from the project is not provided back to the community, then it would not be effective."

Jaime Cidro
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg

"I think all research needs to be disseminated to different stakeholders […] There's not kind of a one size fits all. I think it depends on the project and who is involved and who are the decision makers involved too. So I think it's kind of you have to take a multi-pronged approach."

"I really enjoy seeing when researchers bring their collaborators to conferences or to dissemination events. And what I like even more is when the researcher doesn’t present at all and that the community presents the project. I think that is a really important way of disseminating knowledge."

Janice Linton
Indigenous Health Librarian, Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library, University of Manitoba

"And so First Nations and Inuit people were overwhelmingly on YouTube doing educational health promotion things long before the non-Indigenous people in Manitoba, I found. So I think that we're going to continue to learn about those innovative approaches, whether it's through social media or audiovisual or just doing the research and the research methods. Like Indigenous research methods is really big right now and has been for a few years, yet I don't think that's out to the non-Indigenous community yet. So I think the non-Indigenous community is actually at the point where we're going to learn even more and actually apply it outside of Indigenous health research."

Javier Mignone
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences

"Sometimes we don't think knowledge translation through carefully, and we put a lot of money into collecting the data, but we forget that we also need quite a lot of funding to be able to do proper work with the information, to make this knowledge generation possible, because just a report doesn't cut it. Just printing a report that nobody reads – what's the point of the research if that's the only thing we do."

John O’Neil
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

"The uptake of the research is in some instances dramatic and noticeable and in other instances probably very incremental. It’s a combination of direct impacts as well as more gradual historical impacts."

Jonathan McGavock
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Manitoba

"I don’t know if we've done knowledge translation well. It's been ad hoc at best. And we're still learning and we're still growing [...] Each community has different ways to communicate their information."

"We've always invited youth down [...] and so the voice of the youth is right at the front. And they share it first with people here before we share with anyone else."

Josée Lavoie
Director, Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, University of Manitoba

"Often communities are the only ones that can really act on the research. They are not particularly interested in research that leads only to publications. They are more interested in research that leads to change. And so community engagement is necessary."

Leona Star
Research Associate & Regional Coordinator for RHS & REEES, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"Often times communities do question what they’ll be receiving out of research because research hasn’t really given that back much to communities in terms of something immediate."

Linda Larcombe
Assistant Professor, Department of Internal of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"I think one of the big contributions in terms of knowledge translation is working with the youth in the community and with local research assistants and exposing them to ways of knowing about health in the community, and ways of investigating health in the community."

Michelle Driedger
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"So from a reality perspective I don’t know if I’ve necessarily done anything that has changed or improved people’s lives and that’s what’s always there, is that tension of my academic career has been built and I’ve produced publications and I’ve tried to do things that provide and give back, but in that direct, tangible way I think that’s part of the struggle that anybody that works in applied research."

Natalie Riediger
Research Associate, Manitoba First Nations Centre for Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, University of Manitoba

"The other knowledge translation would be with respect to training. I would consider that knowledge translation."

Wayne Voisey Clark
Director, Aboriginal Health Programs – Health Services, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

"I still have a part and a responsibility to assure that that knowledge is made available to the community. And it’s challenging in the sense that I don’t work for the organization so to keep this information readily available and alive is important. And so finding champions who are willing to take this knowledge and continue sharing it with the community is really important."

Sharon Macdonald
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"You know I had an opportunity to do knowledge translation in my day to day work […] So I think those of us who have been involved in Aboriginal health particularly from the early days and ongoing have used the broadest definition of health translation […]So you can do knowledge translation through actions at the administrative level, as well as just through research."

"While communities may be looking for answers, you don’t necessarily have those answers in the research, so sometimes people in the community can be disappointed that our expectation that we could answer something didn’t work out […] and then of course research has proven to be wrong sometimes and then that is another difficult conversation."

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Building on Strengths

The Academy should be a safe place for all. The University of Manitoba is striving to become that place.

Brenda Elias
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"When I was a Master’s student they said there are no jobs for academics. When I became a PhD student, there were no jobs for PhDs. It¹s going to be a long time before everybody retires and so on and so forth. What a lot of people fail to factor in is that knowledge shifts and changes and positions shift and change with knowledge. It had nothing to do about who was retiring at the very end of the day. If you want to be a competitive university, you have to bring in the knowledge that is the knowledge of the day ­ or the decade, or for the next 100 years for that matter."

Caroline Chartrand
Executive Director, Diabetes Integration Project

"I’m hoping that we have Indigenous scholars that can do the research themselves."

Jaime Cidro
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg

"So when I first started my PhD we were told there are lots of people retiring, this is kind of the best time to do a PhD. It was assumed that you would have a faculty position. By the time I finished they had stopped mandatory retirement, so people were not retiring and not being forced to retire anymore. So there was a real kind of clog in the system and the result was very few faculty positions in this kind of highly competitive environment that's a bit hostile."

Catherine Cook
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"I think that we have the foundation of lots of young, keen, bright people who are very engaged in Indigenous research. I think that as the cohort continues to grow, the actual level of Aboriginal health research will continue to increase."

Donna Martin
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Manitoba

"My hope is that we can really create a university that nurtures students who have Indigenous ancestry, so that those students can really incorporate two-eye seeing—becoming knowledgeable about western science and Indigenous knowledge."

Javier Mignone
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences

"I think we need to continue working, ongoing capacity building, training opportunities, etc, obviously for young researchers, particularly Indigenous researchers. But not only. And also community members."

Joseph Kaufert
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"You really need resources that both train new people from communities and honour the work that’s been done with Indigenous models of research."

John O’Neil
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

"I think what’s happened over the last 10 years as a result of the CIHR investment in Aboriginal people’s health, has been a significant strengthening of research capacity in the First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities [...] It's now threatened by some of the changes that are taking place in the federal granting environment. There is a tendency to feel as though there’s no need to continue to invest in building capacity which I think it is a serious mistake and is potentially a threat to continuing to strengthen First Nations, Inuit and Métis research."

Jonathan McGavock
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Manitoba

"There's some people who get right into Indigenous research, Indigenous scholarly activities from their undergrad. And they're sort of trained in this. A lot of us come in as scientists and we have to learn it. And so I wasn’t trained in this at all [...] I had never even heard of helicopter research. Like I had no idea what they were talking about."

"I don’t see that we have a lot of Indigenous students. The Indigenous students I meet are rarely involved in research. And they're not really sure what it's about. So I don’t think we're doing enough. I think it's got to start at the high school level."

Leavina Brown
Elder and Former Minister of Health & Social Services, Nunavut

"In the post-secondary I find that anybody can learn, no matter who it is. We have a learning ability and the sad part of it is, living in Nunavut we're so remote, all the universities are south. We have to go south for the universities […] A lot of times these young Inuit students are homesick, and I can't blame them: it's their home."

Marlene Atleo
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba

"When we have so much prejudice and racism in the system and like if we don’t have First Nations people in the system, how can we trust the system to work for us? [...] We’re not going to be saved by non-Aboriginals doing Aboriginal education. So, capacity, it’s not about just seeing the research, it’s about developing capacity to do the research."

"If you have an ideology of scientism that alienates people, then people are not going to want to be in science. They’re not going to want to be in health care and careers because it’s dehumanizing. The ‘food’ is nice and fuzzy right, but cardiology isn’t that fuzzy."

Mary Jane McCallum
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Winnipeg

"There's still a great need for institutional support of Indigenous students to the phase where they can become independent researchers and faculty and academics, that's still needed for sure."

Wayne Voisey Clark
Director, Aboriginal Health Programs – Health Services, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

"There’s probably many different trajectories for young Inuit to gain entry into health research but we have to be proactive in making sure that those opportunities are available. And that could be in health services, it could be in health education, it could be in other parts of the health system."

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Working and Learning Together

Mentorship happens everywhere. Everyone can be a mentor and everyone can be a student. We share the knowledge that we have to make everybody stronger: Elders, youth, students, researchers, generations past and present. Everyone plays a role in supporting others to achieve their dreams and aspirations, and create a safer place for generations to come.

Brenda Elias
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"I was hired by the Northern Health Research Unit. John O¹Neil, Kathy Bell, Dawn Stewart, Joan Mullen, Kue Young, Mike Moffatt and Joel Kettner all had an office in the unit. We worked together. Back then we were writing grants at a time when there was really no money dedicated to Indigenous health research. An opportunity arose with the Arctic Environmental Strategy, which was a federally sponsored research program. It was a grand opportunity for researchers. It was the first time in a long time that the Canadian government harnessed their scientists, within the federal government, and those within the university. John O'Neil was kind of humming and hawing about writing a proposal and I said, “Let me write a proposal.” I wrote a proposal from a Foucauldian perspective, looking at the knowledges of scientists versus Indigenous knowledges as represented from the various groups participating in this strategy. He said, “Well, it was kind of a slim chance for it to get funded.” You know, who would fund that, what federal government would fund it, a peer review of basic scientists funding a Foucauldian project, right? And I said, “Let¹s give it a shot”. It was funded. After I found out that the peer reviewers who had supported it were Indigenous, not the basic scientists. The most pivotal grant, I would say, was a major CIHR grant I wrote as a PhD student in the competitive CIHR environment. I worked with those who are now my colleagues, having them do the peer review for it, learning from them in that process, writing it in an active way. Those monies along with the ACADRE grant helped launch MFN CAHR and kept it afloat in those early years."

Hannah Tait Neufeld
Assistant Professor, Applied Human Nutrition, University of Guelph

"I feel really privileged for having learned – for having spent the last twenty years or so in this field – and to have learned from the people that I was privileged to learn from when I was there in Manitoba."

Jaime Cidro
Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg

"I think that's kind of the downside of the kind of graduate piece is that we're so well mentored and well supported, but at the end of the day the positions are just not there. We have been groomed to take these positions and they're just not there. I mean, I'm a lucky one, but I know there's lots of my friends who are not in the same position."

"I feel in Manitoba, because there's not that many people here, not that many people doing health research, there seems to be an interest in mentoring the junior researchers, I guess, coming up, which I didn't really get the same sense in Ontario."

"I think the result is researchers have a better understanding of the role of relationships in doing research with First Nations communities or whatever Indigenous community they're working with and being kind of mentored around how to do that in a way that's ethical and kind of maintains this ethical space."

Josée Lavoie
Director, Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, University of Manitoba

"It's important for everybody that works in this country, in health, to understand what's going on in terms of community. So the more, the merrier. Whoever wants to be involved in this field, please come over and we'll try to support you and mentor you."

Karen Busby
Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

"So I really love student training and as a teacher, what I get a kick out of is the student coming in saying, “You want me to do what?” “I can’t possibly do that”… That student empowerment piece I love."

Leavina Brown
Elder and Former Minister of Health & Social Services, Nunavut

"It was enjoyable meeting new researchers. We asked questions and they asked questions from the community. We grew together, we learned from each other."

"The community wants to learn. Community wants to be involved. We can’t sit back and sit idly. We have to go with our partners from the south. And I know the south wants to be involved with us."

Linda Diffey
ACADRE/NEAHR Program Coordinator (2005-2013)

"I feel like we’re just getting to the point where some of those seeds for mentorship that we planted are just starting to really get going and now there’s not that support so that it becomes more of a challenge."

Nicholas Krueger
Former Research Assistant, Manitoba First Nations Centre for Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, University of Manitoba

"You could feel that connection being made between us, the researchers and the community, a really valuable one, and then you could also see how appreciative the community was that we were and taking time to do something important [...] Just based on the primary health, we could see how the caribou made such a difference in their health. That came across in the interviews. People talked a lot about caribou and how they were caribou people, but you just didn't get that sense of importance until you saw the energy there. And I don't know that's something we can say in the paper, but that's what I learned from going to communities."

Pamela Orr
Professor, Department of Medicine (Section of Infectious Diseases), Medical Microbiology and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"We take students from the communities and bring them down to our Architecture Faculty here at the University of Manitoba. And then we take architecture students from the University of Manitoba and send them north with the idea that, in partnership, these young people can help design healthy housing that’s appropriate for the Dene culture [...] This kind of research, we hope, will make a difference in terms of health but also, in terms of creating trust and respect between southern and northern communities and also allowing young people in the North and the South to dream. Why shouldn’t they be able to dream about where they would ideally live and what they would ideally live in?"

Patricia Martens
Former Director, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, University of Manitoba

"It's come a long way but I've had a really good nurturing department, as well as good mentors. It used to be that there would be more researcher control of research and I never really experienced that just because of the approaches that my supervisors…who were really adamant about community involvement. So that was not a difficult thing to incorporate in your research when you're being encouraged to do it."

Sharon Bruce
Associate Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"Knowledge generation is exciting and the opportunity to work with students and mentor students in First Nations research is enjoyable, as is mentoring some of the community members in research. So we always have local research assistants and they take on a huge role in the community when they're involved in research and so working with them is enjoyable as well."

Wanda Phillips-Beck
Nurse Research Manager, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"I’m kind of the bridge between the university and community because they don’t necessarily agree on definitions or concepts or approaches. So it sort of seems I’m the navigator and the bridge for them to understand each other. Sometimes it takes a little bit of work. Most of the work really has to take place at the level of academia because this is where the knowledge is really lacking in terms of community process, community protocols in terms of how to do things and what not to do. Academics really speak a different language and sometimes it can be rather demeaning for communities, like to not understand a lot of the terminologies and the concepts. We all have to come down a couple of notches when it comes to talking in plain language and speaking to community members. Communities as well have to learn - and my communities that I work with right now have done a lot of learning in terms of research questions and meanings and concepts and what does all that mean. One of the questions that came from the communities very recently is why do we use different methods to ask similar questions."

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Thinking About How Far We’ve Come

It took vision, humility, courage, respect and shared commitments to work collectively to begin to dismantle the old ways of doing research. We have learned together. Some of this work has been fun, some has been painful. There is still a long road ahead. Many have learned from the past and will be there to guide others along the way.

Brian Postl
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"Research has evolved pretty substantially over time, where communities are now seen in the organization of research, and have the capacity to say no if it’s not of interest to them or they don’t think it’s going to have a positive impact, or may not be worth the effort."

Catherine Cook
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"Part of the challenge with doing collaborative community research is that community based research, is that you do form a full partnership with the community. And you do build on that trust and respectful relationship, and that didn’t always happen in the past."

"The capacity with the Manitoba First Nations has certainly increased and an awareness with researchers with research ethics boards at the University."

Joseph Kaufert
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"The other problems that we ran into was that - being that it was 25 or 30 years ago - there wasn’t an understanding of the protection of qualitative information, or the fact that some of the people that were part of video tapes for the research might want to be identified with their roles. So a lot of the things about being anonymous that standard ethics protocols included didn’t’ really fit with this, because we wanted people to have their ownership."

"Over those thirty years the research ethics codes have changed a great deal, because the early ones didn’t really recognize First Nations or Indigenous research."

John O’Neil
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

"The creation of the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research was preceded by a number of collaborative studies with First Nations in different parts of Manitoba related to environmental issues and the healthcare system in particular."

"I think First Nations communities are generally quite resistant to research projects that may be seen as invasive, where researchers are asking very personal questions, or in fact taking biological samples which in some studies require. And First Nations communities feel that they’ve had too many researchers come in, take the data or the biological samples, and never report back to the community."

Kathi Avery Kinew
Manager, Research & Social Development Initiatives, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"The Manitoba Centre for Aboriginal Health Research was set up in 2001. People don’t realize how important the name is. Because the Chiefs gave up money for five years in order that half a million dollars be put into this centre [...] It was with great consternation that the Chiefs allowed the Centre’s name to say “Aboriginal Health Research”, that’s why they put “Manitoba First Nations” first, because without the Chiefs doing that, investing money that they could have received directly to the communities, from Indian Affairs and Health Canada, without that contribution, there never would have been a Research Centre here."

Leona Star
Research Associate & Regional Coordinator for RHS & REEES, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"For our team it’s the AMC Health Information Research Governance Committee. They provide oversight and governance to the Regional Health Survey. They’ve been doing that since the 1990’s to ensure the research does abide by those three criteria of First Nations of OCAP, free, prior and informed consent on an individual and collective basis as well as all First Nations ethical principles."

"Since I first started in research, it has evolved to the point where communities are seeing the utilities and the benefits of research. But it’s also accommodating it and explaining it in a way that they do see the benefit of research and now we’re seeing First Nations who are seeking out those research partnerships with either AMC or the university."

Leavina Brown
Elder and Former Minister of Health & Social Services, Nunavut

"In those days health was not as complicated as it is today, and then the nursing stations, they grew, doctors started coming slowly, not to stay but visiting doctors. They came and they diagnosed, and a lot of us knew what was wrong with them because the doctors knew how to diagnose. Today you wait for your diagnoses forever, even thou they have MRI and all those, ultrasounds and stuff. A lot of times you’re waiting for your diagnosis."

"I like the research. A lot of people I've heard say that there are so many that are researched to death. I disagree, simply because I worked with a lot of doctors, young doctors, medical students for many years, and when I was working with them in the 1970s, early '70s, they were telling me that the Inuit never had diabetes; Inuit never had heart attacks. Those kind of things. So we're proud of that, but you know, medical people are saying that about the Inuit people. At the same time I have this objection where I have some doubts. How did we know they didn't have diabetes? How did we know they didn't have heart attacks without doing research? This is why I support research, as long as we are told the end results, what the results are. Granted, maybe sometimes for certain research we might not be able to know, but eventually I hope that we're involved in every aspect."

"I'm very proud of the Birthing Centre […] And after it was in operation, it was the envy of every community. Everybody wanted a birthing centre. I mean why not?"

"In post-secondary it's very different. We're Aboriginals. When we're Aboriginals we are different. I find that. We want equal partnership with everything and anything. We don't want to get left behind. Not like in the '50s when the government first came here. That was a no-no where we got left behind and were not trained and did not go to school, and once you're 16 you're working in the work force when you should be in high school."

Lisa Murdock
Program & Policy Consultant – Aboriginal Initiatives, Healthy Child Manitoba

"Research has changed over time. Our ways of knowing and doing have changed, through our own trial and error, and from the lessons learned from other researchers’ experiences."

Pamela Orr
Professor, Department of Medicine (Section of Infectious Diseases), Medical Microbiology and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"Basically Dr. Hildes had a vision of medicine that was sort of threefold: That to be a complete doctor and to completely meet the needs of a community or a group of people you gave clinical care, were involved in teaching and education, but you also did research. Meaning you asked questions, you listened to questions of the community and you tried to help answer them."

Patricia Martens
Former Director, Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, University of Manitoba

"In Manitoba there’s been a lot of proactive work that’s gone into Aboriginal research, so although I won’t be around to do it, there’s others that can do it and that’s what excites me."

Sharon Macdonald
Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"Things evolve and the intent of developing a section of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health was to ensure that research can enrich the clinical service and the clinical service can enrich the research and students have an opportunity to participate in both."

"What has evolved over the earlier years is a more unified voice from Indigenous peoples about their need to be involved in and have information about and ensure that there’s appropriate knowledge translation that goes back to the community."

"During the time that Dr. Hildes, from the early 70’s 'til about 1981, just before he became ill, there was an emphasis on research and research contributing to the improvement of health status and to health services in the north […] So the development of the Northern Health Research Unit was a way though of broadening and developing a specific base around research."

"If you go back to the first programs of the Circumpolar Health, in the early days, a lot of it was clinically focused, because people were concerned about eye disease and ear disease and respiratory disease. And then over time you see it changing and more of the socio-political components of it end up on the agenda."

"In the early days we held discussions with communities in a more informal setting, it wasn’t a whole lot of formal research, but in an effort to talk about the health status and problems and problem solving together and talk about the health services."

"[…] this whole idea of reporting back to the community was important and from the earliest days, you know back to the 70's that efforts to have Indigenous people attending the conferences and to be funded and to make sure the information got back to the communities was a very early component of the university's work."

"One of the things that also happened over those years were that there was a feeling amongst First Nations communities that they would be studied, but the information was not being provided back to them, so they might read it in the newspaper or they might hear it from somewhere else."

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Building Bridges Toward the Future

Research has to be part of reconciliation between First Nations, Metis, Inuit, other Indigenous peoples, the larger Canadian Society and beyond. As we move forward we will see shifts in power relations, broader community engagement in research, as well as a change in the Academy to acknowledge and value Indigenous knowledges. This transformation will lead the way to better health for all.

Brian Postl
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"I think certainly we’ll see more leadership of members of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities in determining the research agenda."

Cindy Garson
Health Director, Fisher River Cree Nation

"My hope is within ten, twenty years we, the grassroots people, will actually be the lead in any research. We’ll be coming to your door to say we would love to research this."

Gregory Fidler
Assistant Director, Northern Social Work Program, University of Manitoba

"We will have Aboriginal people doing research on Aboriginal people, for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people. And hopefully implementing the recommendations."

"You’re going to have a lot more Aboriginal people in the field of research. The more they have access to post-secondary education the higher the volume of research there is going to be."

Hannah Tait Neufeld
Assistant Professor, Applied Human Nutrition, University of Guelph

"There is a lot to learn in terms of Indigenous knowledge. And I think that the capacity in those areas is only going to increase in years to come."

"I think there’s going to be a lot more collaboration and partnership. Not just with the usual players of Indigenous people in Australia, New Zealand. I think that will expand and include populations in Africa and Asia and elsewhere."

Jaime Cidro
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Winnipeg

"I hope that governments see the importance of communities having self-determination in terms of their own health system that involves meaningful engagement and partnership with researchers and universities so we can all work together to address the concerns that are so prevalent in communities."

Joannie Halas
Community-based Researcher, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, University of Manitoba

"I’m really excited to see the impact of Indigenous youth getting more involved in research over the next few decades. And I think that will shift the trajectory."

Joseph Kaufert
Professor, Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"If there’s a change in the fairness in the response in federal government, and just the fact that there are two generations of smart, and well trained Indigenous researchers and Indigenous policy makers out there, you know, your generation and the generation before you, is going to make a difference. I hope I can see some of it."

Jonathan McGavock
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Manitoba

"If you do research with youth in Indigenous communities, get them involved [...] So they're not just being experimented on, right? They're not just participating as participants. They're experimenting. So they're being involved in maybe some decision-making, maybe collecting data. And they get to see the value of it."

Karen Busby
Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba

"I’m hoping more Indigenous people will be trained and will be able to take over so much more of the research. Because I just think that makes all the difference."

Kathi Avery Kinew
Manager, Research & Social Development Initiatives, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"As long as CIHR stays under the thumb of people who don’t believe in science, we’re in big trouble…also if with those who don’t believe in First Nations self-determination, we’re also in big trouble."

Kerry Spence
Graduate Student, Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba

"I do see there being a place for allies, non-Indigenous researchers studying Indigenous research. I don’t’ see those partnerships just disintegrating just because there are more Aboriginal researchers. I think they’ll definitely still have those partnerships."

Leona Star
Research Associate & Regional Coordinator for RHS & REEES, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"If I were to dream where I would like to see First Nations research going, is to ensure First Nations, every First Nation within our region and across Canada, have the tools and resources and the infrastructure to assert their own First Nations principles of OCAP, whatever that may be."

"We still have a long road ahead of us in terms of rebuilding those bridges that have been broken based on a poor history of research with First Nations."

Leavina Brown
Elder and Former Minister of Health & Social Services, Nunavut

"Nunavut is new. The Nunavut government is new. Baby steps. They’re going to make mistakes, and they’re doing what they can, and we’re in a tough, tough stage in this day and age."

Linda Diffey
ACADRE/NEAHR Program Coordinator (2005-2013)

"I would like to think that we’re going to see more structures that allow people who are truly based in the community and not at a university being able to undertake projects. I really hope we’re heading in that direction."

Lisa Murdock
Program & Policy Consultant – Aboriginal Initiatives, Healthy Child Manitoba

"In terms of research, there’s the ownership piece. I do see that society will recognize that what we have to share in our knowledge is ours. It’s ours to keep and share it as we need."

"Nobody knows better than Aboriginal peoples what issues are relevant to Aboriginal peoples, and what our needs are, and how we can address these needs, and more importantly, how we can and why we should begin to heal from the devastating impacts of colonization."

Mabel Horton
Elder, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"I think as a group of Indigenous peoples, we’ll have a stronger voice internationally and nationally and at the community level."

Monica Cyr
Graduate Student, Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba

"With the number of Aboriginal students in universities, in post-secondary, I think that just goes to show that our voices are getting stronger, there is work to be done, there will be work available."

Pamela Orr
Professor, Department of Medicine (Section of Infectious Diseases), Medical Microbiology and Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba

"Certainly what research that will be done in the future will be participatory and it will be based on the research questions or priorities of the communities themselves, and the research will be done by Indigenous people, of course in partnership with others."

Paul Hackett
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Saskatchewan

"I think we also have to respect the people who’ve come before us; it’s not that we’re rewriting everything all at once […] it’s actually almost like a torch being handed down from generation to generation. And we may improve things in some ways, but really we’re learning those lessons from the past and we’re hearing the stories. I think that’s really critical."

Wayne Voisey Clark
Director, Aboriginal Health Programs – Health Services, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority

"I think the university has a very integral role in establishing partnerships, or being an authoritative body that can endorse the partnerships. That’s a key piece."

Wanda Phillips-Beck
Nurse Research Manager, Nanaandawewigamig, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

"In terms of research priorities, a lot of research is focused on the deficits and the problems. I think we need to start looking at things that are working and studying those [...] because rather than share information about all the deficits and all of the problems let’s start sharing information about what is working and why some communities are faring better than others."

"There are many First Nations and Métis researchers already out there. But they are very tied – usually tied to academic institutions. So we need to sort of build from within as well."

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Rec and Read

Initiated in 2005 Rec and Read began as a community-based, participatory action research project titled the Cultural Approach to Urban Aboriginal Youth Sport and Physical Activity. Together with Indigenous youth, researchers, educators, community members and non-Indigenous allies, this innovative and culturally relevant community-based youth mentorship program was born.

The program employs a developmental lens and is based on traditional Indigenous teachings. It is intended to offer Indigenous youth the opportunity to participate in physical activity educational programming and cultivate leadership capacity aimed to reclaim their cultural identities and improve overall health and well-being.

University of Manitoba and community mentors support high school students to plan weekly after school physical activities that are delivered by these students in a number of elementary schools for younger children and youth. The program provides positive development opportunities, leadership skills, a platform to foster intergenerational relationships and a life changing experience of personal and professional growth.

The project began over ten years ago with one mentor site at Maples Collegiate to a second site at Children of the Earth High School. Through much collaborative learning over the years there are now seven different urban sites and five northern sites in Manitoba. Its reach has also extended to be inclusive of young people from different cultural backgrounds and with different life experiences. The team hopes to share the program as a model for positive youth development in communities across Canada.

Interview Panel (L to R): Amy Carpenter, Mercedes Coutu, Akalu Meekis, Nicole Selkirk, and Dr. Joannie Halas.

Amy Carpenter is Metis from the Red River Settlement Area, Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has been involved in the program for about ten years. Amy was a research assistant and an early years teacher when she was approached by Joannie Halas with the concept of having a safe space for youth in the community to be physically active after school. Her favorite memory is the energy within the schools as the program is underway.

Mercedes Coutu, originally from Jackhead First Nation (Kinonjeoshtegon), Manitoba, has been involved with Rec and Read for six years. She began as a high school mentor in Grade 11. Since graduation, she continues to be a university mentor. Her favorite memory of Rec and Read is upon the beginning of a new school year, the returning high school mentors took initiative to share many new ideas in a sharing circle.

Akalu Meekis was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He self-identifies with his family’s community of Sandy Lake First Nation (Negaw-zaaga'igani Nitam-Anishinaabe) in Northern Ontario. Akalu was involved with Rec and Read for six years. His introduction to the program was through a University of Manitoba Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management course, in which he became a university mentor. Since then he has been a staff mentor at various sites in Winnipeg. His favorite memory of Rec and Read is the high school mentors’ enthusiasm and interactions with the early years’ students.

Nicole Selkirk, originally from Pine Dock, Manitoba, was involved with Rec and Read for three years. She began as a high school mentor in Grade 11. When she graduated she became a university mentor for one year. Her favorite memory of Rec and Read is seeing the high school mentors as role models for the early years’ students.

Dr. Joannie Halas was born and raised in the North End of Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is of colonial settler roots and eastern European heritage. Her research focuses on culturally relevant physical education for Indigenous and other under-represented youth. Her favorite memory of Rec and Read is spending time with the students and seeing the students grow as they move from one role to the next.

Mentorship Programs

As one of its premier initiatives the Canadian Institutes for Health Research – Institute of Aboriginal People’s Health established the Aboriginal Capacity and Developmental Research Environments (ACADRE) centres in 2002. Evolving into the Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research (NEAHR) centres in 2007, these visionary exemplars of Indigenous health research training spanned across the country with seven regional centres and two national centres.

The aims of the centres were to build research capacity and infrastructure in Indigenous health research, support collaborative research with Indigenous organizations and communities, emphasize the importance of knowledge translation, and encourage First nations, Métis, Inuit and non-Indigenous students and faculty to pursue careers in Indigenous health. In the spirit of partnership, mentorship and community engagement, these efforts have produced a cadre of over 120 students trained in Manitoba.

Notwithstanding the dissolution of NEAHR in 2012, the energy and momentum developed over the last thirteen years to sustain capacity building opportunities in Indigenous health research have not been abandoned. The renewal of training opportunities to support the next generation of researchers working in Indigenous health locally and internationally are emerging, such as the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship and the Indigenous Mentorship Network Program.

Amanda Woods
Former ACADRE & NEAHR Student

"I really embrace that now, you know, our Indigenous ways of introducing ourselves and setting up even conference presentations or poster presentations. I learned that all through going to those summer student gatherings."

"So really NEAHR’s been part of my life from getting that money as a student and now working as the coordinator. For years it’s been very important in my life, the program. I’m actually very sad to see that it’s going away."

Ashley Edson
Former NEAHR Student

"It’s meant a lot; it’s meant everything. I think without that kind of funding I wouldn’t have been kind of set on the path I am today […] I just learned a lot about myself through doing that work and it directed me towards social work."

"I think I really started to explore my identity as an Indigenous woman and that’s not something I really did before that… I think it was just really amazing connections and experiences I had that helped me learn more about myself."

Catherine Cook
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba

"ACADRE/NEAHR where they really looked at the developing capacity within the Aboriginal community. Not only for developing the capacity of researchers but also the breadth of the research that was being done."

Courtney Bell
Former NEAHR Student

"I think that just having a community that was on the same page about a lot of current events in Canada in terms of Aboriginal health and human rights was great. To have a group of people that you could talk to about those things and people weren’t in defense mode or attack mode, it was just easy conversations about current events."

"I've explored sort of my own identity as a Métis woman and I recall meeting other Métis women who were involved in research and it was nice to feel like I had met friends who were sort of experiencing the same things as me in their departments, being perhaps the only Indigenous person in their whole department."

Kerry Spence
Former NEAHR Student

"I remember I was making the poster for the traditional food consumption for NEAHR and I was showing [my supervisor] and everything, and she was like “Kerry, this is master’s level work” and I didn’t know that I was capable of doing that. So it kind of steered me into research and into getting into my master’s now, which I felt more confident doing afterwards."

Linda Diffey
ACADRE/NEAHR Program Coordinator (2005-2013)

"I feel like in some ways I don’t formally work for the NEAHR and the program is very much scaled back. I feel like by virtue of still being at the university and having been such a part of it, I’m not really gone. I’m still going out for a coffee with the students."

"Sometimes we get students who would come into our program and they’d say, well, my advisor said don’t do a project in this community because I’ll never get through. And it’s like, okay, well, yes, it may take longer and I’m not going to lie to you, but this is a really important area. I never wanted to be scared off, but I know it’s a fine line."

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Indigenous Health Collection

The Indigenous Health Collection is a library collection of books, DVDs, web resources, historical reports & journals supporting a holistic approach to health & well-being for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. While the focus of the collection has primarily been on the health and well-being of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, the literature gathered over the years clearly reflects the health and social effects of colonization on Indigenous peoples globally. Consistent with the move towards using the term Indigenous by the University and international organizations, such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization, the collection itself was renamed from the Aboriginal Health Collection to the Indigenous Health Collection in 2015. The Indigenous Health Librarian and the physical and online collection, which consists of many components and service areas, continue to focus on local and national aspects of First Nations, Métis and Inuit health in the global context of international Indigenous health.

Check out the collection: libguides.lib.umanitoba.ca/aboriginalhealth

Janice Linton
Aboriginal Health Librarian, Neil John Mclean Health Sciences Library, University of Manitoba

"We realized early on that not only did we need books documenting subjects such as the history of the residential schools, and the ‘sixties scoop’, but that we also needed to make available information on residential school trauma, intergenerational trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, counselling, traditional healing methods, child welfare and books for parents, men, women and youth. We have sought out and acquired very unique publications written by First Nations and Metis people, Inuit and Elders to assist people on their healing journey."

"What started out as a research collection, with a heavy emphasis on data and diseases, has now grown into an interdisciplinary, multiple perspective, wholistic collection of books, DVDs, articles, internet subject guides and accessible tools for teaching, self-study, community development, and clinical care. Branching out into areas like supporting clinical care to staff in Nunavut, delivering services to international circumpolar health researchers, and developing a collection of great resources for patients were, for the most part, unanticipated in 1997 when Ada Ducas and John O’Neil combined their ideas to move the Northern Health Research Unit collection into the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library."

COMPONENTS OF THE INDIGENOUS HEALTH COLLECTION

ABORIGINAL HEALTH COLLECTION (EST. 1997)

KIVALLIQ LIBRARY SERVICES (EST. 1999)

CIHR LIBRARY SERVICES FOR THE NORTH (2006-2011)

WRHA ABORIGINAL HEALTH COLLECTION (EST. 2012)

KANEE GA NI-WHAT KEE-KANDAMOWIN ANISHINABECK: FIRST PEOPLES PLACE OF LEARNING (2012)

NJMHSL CONSUMER HEALTH COLLECTION (EST. 2006)

GROWTH OF THE INDIGENOUS HEALTH COLLECTION:

• 1997-1998 Ada Ducas, Head, Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library, and John O’Neil, Director, Northern Health Research Unit (NHRU) are awarded a Program Development Fund Grant to establish and develop the Aboriginal Health Collection

• 1997 The Aboriginal Health Collection is established as a unique collection of books, videos, dissertations and reports donated by the Northern Health Research Unit (The NHRU was the original unit in the Faculty of Medicine that later evolved into MFN-CAHR)

• 1997 The Aboriginal Health Collection is located in the newly built Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library. The materials donated by the Northern Health Research Unit included materials collected over several decades by faculty and staff of the UM’s Northern Health Research Unit

• 1997-1998 Ada Ducas awarded a grant from UM Employment Equity Incentive Fund to create and fund the position of Aboriginal Health Librarian

• Funds are used to purchase key commercial, academic and small press books to complement the research collection and Indigenous studies books donated. Materials purchased include books about traditional medicine, Indigenous cultural diversity, family and community wellness, mental health, global Indigenous health, residential school trauma, circumpolar health, health policy and Aboriginal human resources initiatives.

• 1997 The Aboriginal Health Collection became the first dedicated library collection of Indigenous health materials in Canada located in a medical school

• 1997 – 2015 The collection grew from 660 academic, government and statistical publications, with some key community-driven documents, into a wholistic, balanced collection of over 5,000 publications and video resources

• 1999 Kivalliq Library Services begins, as part of the JA Hildes Northern Medical Unit’s services delivered to support the health & social services staff in 7 communities in the Kivalliq Region and the community of Sanikiluaq in Nunavut

• 1999 Janice Linton, Aboriginal Health Librarian, travels to Rankin Inlet & Arviat to carry out a needs assessment for library & information services required by Nunavut’s Department of Health & Social Services staff

• 1999 – Web pages developed to bring together diverse publications and assistance to support Aboriginal health research

• 2000 – Web pages first developed to support Inuit health research and patient care

• 2002 – 2003 Aboriginal Health on the Internet workshops developed and offered for free to staff and volunteers of community-based agencies

• 2005 Bilingual (Inuktitut & English) patient education resources collected from many NGOs and government sources added to website

• 2002 - 2005 Video Catalogues for Aboriginal Health published to assist communities to find audiovisual resources to support their educational programs

• 2006 – 2011 CIHR Grant for Circumpolar Health includes library services to community-based, national, and Northern researchers

• 2007 Purchasing of books and DVDs to support First Nations, Metis & Inuit patients and families begins to be an established part of the NJM Library’s accessible Consumer Health Collection

• 2010 – 2015 More subject guides & bibliographies developed including Traditional Medicine; Sexual Health; Elders Wellness; Racism as a SDOH; and Trauma Informed Care to support students in the health sciences. Consistently recognized beyond the UM for unique, diverse resources shared on the internet.

• 2010/2011 The Neil John Maclean Library underwent extensive renovations and the area where the Aboriginal Health Collection is located is enlarged and improved adding more traditional First Nations art, computers and study space for all to enjoy

• 2011/2012 The Aboriginal Health Collection becomes recognized as the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Aboriginal Health Collection with funds supporting the expansion of the collection and space provided by the WRHA

• 2012 The collection was honoured when Roger Armitte, Spiritual Health Specialist and Elder at the Health Sciences Centre carried out a traditional Ojibway naming ceremony for the new space —Kanee Ga Ni-What Kee-Kandamowin Anishinabeck: First Peoples Place of Learning

• Dedicated collection development to include significant collection of books & DVDs written by and for Indigenous people

• 2015 The Aboriginal Health Collection is renamed.

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Portage by Goyce Kakegamic, 1980, Painting presented to the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library in 2008 by Dr. Kue Young and Dr. Valerie Dorward.

Your Stories

"As a student in both the ACADRE and NEAHR programs, I was able to attend the Summer Gathering of Graduate Students. The first year I attended, I was very excited but also very nervous. I wasn’t sure who I would be meeting and if I would fit in. I quickly learned that I did indeed fit in. I found myself surrounded by a large group of fellow students who felt the passion for Indigenous health research and the drive to make positive change. After the first gathering, I had made many new friends and some of those friendships are now going on eight years. When I went to my second gathering it was more like a reunion. I was excited to share my work with my fellow students/friends. It was so nice to be supported by this community of student researchers as well as the University staff who supported us over the years. Many of these friendships have remained intact and we are now in positions of being colleagues in Indigenous health research, even if we are provinces apart. Last year I was asked to take on the role of the coordinator of the final few activities of the NEAHR. At that point I stood back and evaluated my journey. I had come full circle from a student to a Research Associate and Program Coordinator, but the journey does not stop there. I feel that there is still much more to come."

–Amanda Woods

"How far we’ve come in our relationship with First Nations communities! I am a Research Associate at the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy at the University of Manitoba. The objective of one of our research projects was to learn from First Nations communities that have developed effective community based primary healthcare services in Manitoba. During my very first visit with the research team to a First Nations community in Manitoba, we were welcomed by the Chief of the community, local community leaders, the Local Research Assistants, the director of the Health Centre in the community, and community members. We were taken in a tour around the community, and we were served a hot lunch. Everyone was very kind and respectful. The community has a vision of leadership and they want the best for their community. They made me feel like I am a member of the family. They were asking questions and telling jokes, they even showed us a video produced by one of the very talented members of the community featuring different types of activities in the community. I am so proud to be part of the respectful relationship projects that researchers have established with the First Nations communities.Respect, reconciliation, and recognition of Aboriginal rights are the foundation of building respectful relationships with Indigenous people."

—Naser Ibrahim

"During pandemic H1N1 in 2009 I was working on a project with First Nations and Metis communities around Manitoba. We wanted to understand why people chose to, or chose not to, get the H1N1 vaccine. We did a series of focus groups around the province and we made a point of sharing our results back with communities quickly, since there was so much distrust and unease during the pandemic, for a lot of different reasons. One of the items on our consent forms said something along the lines of: if you have any questions, please ask us. When we went back to one of the communities to return results we got pulled into a Q and A with the community, after all, the consent form said we’d answer questions. We had no problem with this. We thought it would be about the project and that people would come down and talk to us. We had our hand-outs and some snacks and were good to go. We were wrong. Instead of a small little group sharing cookies and tea, we found ourselves on a call-in television show with well over 100 calls during the hour long session. Throughout the show, all of the telephone lines were full with people who had questions for us ranging from politics, through road safety, vaccine delivery and even animal care (i.e. vaccinating dogs- which wasn’t something done during PH1N1). We answered the questions the best we could, and sent answers back to the community for the questions we couldn’t answer. And I learned to never assume I know what a community forum will look like, to be prepared for anything—and to always be camera ready."

—Elizabeth Cooper

"I want to share a story on why I call the community members I’m working with for research my friends. Working on the Honouring the Voices has been a challenging but rewarding opportunity to not only gain a wealth of research related experience but meet such wonderful people and understand the rich and diverse history of health research in Manitoba with First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous communities. However, carrying out this project has been no easy task and has come with its challenges. One of these challenges would not have been overcome if it were not for the support of one particular member in the community I am doing research with. Although working on the Honouring the Voices project is not a part of my graduate research, I was forced to look for support from the community I was doing research with when none was to be found elsewhere.

We were in a hard place when project deadlines were getting the best of us at MFN CAHR and pressure was taking a front seat to ensure products were being delivered. We needed a graphic designer and all the people we knew internal to the University already had their plates full and people externally were not willing to work on the graphics we needed as the notice was too short. So one morning I emailed the graphic designer I knew from the community and without hesitation he agreed to help us out. Over the course of the next two days, long nights leading into the early hours of the morning, sending drafts back and forth to the advisory team, we managed to get all the work done. Exceptional work I might add. Without the help of Justin L’Arrivee, the Honouring the Voices project would not quite be what it is today.

I have made good friends among the community I have been doing research with during my short time in Winnipeg. In the words of Clifford Geertz, we have been doing some “deep hanging out.” They have welcomed me to the city, provided me with support and created a space in which I can call Winnipeg home. I am truly grateful for their friendship and would like to thank them for all they have done. So thank you."

—Darrien Morton

Acknowledgements

The project was undertaken by the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research to acknowledge and celebrate 40 years of Manitoba led First nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous Health Research

The Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research acknowledges that the University of Manitoba Campuses are located on the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Metis Nation.

We respect the Treaties that were made on these territories, we acknowledge the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration.

Community Partners

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Manitoba Metis Federation
Manitoba Inuit Association

Community Advisory Committee

Kathi Avery-Kinew, Nanaandawegamig
Jordan Bass, University of Manitoba
Sheila Carter, Manitoba Metis Federation
Wayne Voisey Clark, Manitoba Inuit Association
Linda Diffey, University of Manitoba
Rachel Dutton-Gowryluk, Manitoba Inuit Association
Paul Hackett, University of Saskatchewan
Naser Ibrahim, University of Manitoba
Josée Lavoie, University of Manitoba
Janice Linton, University of Manitoba
Mary Jane McCallum, University of Winnipeg
Javier Mignone, University of Manitoba
Natalie Riediger , University of Manitoba
Julianne Sanguins, Manitoba Metis Federation
Ruth Shead, University of Manitoba
Leona Star, Nanaandawegamig
Jennifer White, Manitoba Health

Contributors

Marlene Atleo
Kathy Avery-Kinew
Judith Bartlett
Courtney Bell
Yvonne Boyer
Leavina Brown
Sharon Bruce
Karen Busby
Amy Carpenter
Jaime Cidro
Michael Champagne
Caroline Chartrand
Wayne Voisey Clark
Adele Compton
Catherine Cook
Elizabeth Cooper
Mercedes Coutu
Monica Cyr
Heather Dean
Marcia Anderson Decoteau
Linda Diffey
Michelle Driedger
Grace Dumas
Ashley Edson
Chantal Edwards
Brenda Elias
Gregory Fidler
Cindy Garson
Melni Ghattora
Dan Gwozdz
Paul Hackett
Joannie Halas
Michael Hart
Mabel Horton
Joseph Kaufert
Derek Kornelsen
Nicholas Krueger
Justin L’Arrivee
Linda Larcombe
Margaret Lavallee
Josée Lavoie
Janice Linton
Sharon Macdonald
Patricia Martens
Donna Martin
Mary Jane McCallum
Jonathan McGavock
Akalu Meekis
Javier Mignone
Darrien Morton
Gary Munro
Hannah Tait Neufeld
Lisa Murdock
John O’Neil
Pamela Orr
Wanda Phillips-Beck
Brian Postl
Margaret Roscelli
Nicole Selkirk
Ian Skelton
Kerry Spence
Leona Star
Dawn Stewart
David Wilder
Amanda Woods

Funding

Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba
Institute for Aboriginal Peoples Health
Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage and Consumer Protection
University of Manitoba Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund

Music

Mike Hotain, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Manitoba
Paul Irksak, Arviat, Nunavut
Elizabeth Nanook, Arviat, Nunavut
Charlie Panigoniak, Rankin Inlet, Nunavut
Dr. Lynn Whidden, University of Brandon, Manitoba

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Gifts offered to the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research.

Contact

Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research (MFN CAHR)
715 John Buhler Research Centre
Telephone: 204-789-3250
727 McDermot Ave
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3P5

In 2001, the University of Manitoba, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and the Foundations for Health joined together to create the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research (CAHR). It replaced a research group known as the Northern Health Research Unit, which was created in 1986. CAHR, which became known as the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research (MFN CAHR) in 2006, is known nationally and internationally for promoting research excellence through the support and development of partnership-based health research with First Nations, Metis, Inuit, and/or Indigenous communities in Manitoba, Canada, and the world.

MFN CAHR has historically been located in the Department of Community Health Sciences, of the Faculty of Medicine. Following the creation of the Faculty of Health Sciences, MFN CAHR is now considered a Centre of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and tasked to bring together and serve the needs of all Faculty of Health Sciences researchers engaged in First Nations, Métis, Inuit and Indigenous health research.

The University of Manitoba is located in Treaty One territory and on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe peoples and the homeland of the Metis Nation. Our campuses and the historic Forks of Winnipeg sit at the crossroads of the Anishinaabe, Metis, Cree, Dakota and Oji-Cree Nations.

The University of Manitoba has done its due diligence in determining copyright and privacy rights for the content contained in Medical Heritage Manitoba. However, we are eager to hear from any rights owners who may feel that their rights are being infringed upon. Upon request, we will remove content from public view while we address any rights issues.

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Manitoba-Indiana Collaborative Health Research Project, c.1991

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Baker Lake Health Assessment, c.1990

Partners

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs: The mandate of AMC, is through the Chiefs-in-Assembly, to devise collective and common political strategies and mechanisms for coordinated action by First Nations and their organizations

The Manitoba Inuit Association (MIA) represents Inuit living in Manitoba and we are very honored to be entrusted with this mandate. We pay homage to the ingenuity of Inuit and their demonstrated mastery of skills and knowledge that enabled them to survive for generations in spite of the harsh Arctic environment. We recognize that we must embody that intergenerational adaptation and “thinking outside the box” worldview, in order to be relevant to Inuit and their specific needs while living in Manitoba.

MMF Health & Wellness Department: The MMF Health & Wellness Department is also known as the Metis Health Knowledge Authority in Manitoba.

Lynn Whidden kindly provided support and assistance for the development of the videos featured as part of the Honouring the Voices project. To hear more music and learn more about her work.

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Honouring the Voices exhibit launch, Brodie Centre, U of M Bannatyne Campus. (November 2015.)