Indigenous Women’s Health

Since 2000, indigenous women’s health research has been a priority area at the Centre. We work closely with partners and communities across Canada that are working to promote the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women through research and knowledge translation. In many of our projects, we draw upon the “Two-Eyed Seeing” lens developed by Mi’kmaq Elders Murdena and Albert Marshall which helps to integrate and connect the best of Indigenous and Western knowledge systems.

Some of our earliest work included an evaluation of Sheway, a program of the Vancouver Native Health Society that provides supports for substance-using mothers and their children; an examination of First Nations women’s experiences with the mainstream health care system; collaboration with six First Nations communities in BC to assess smoking in teen girls; and, exploring issues in rural First Nations maternity care. While appreciating the overall lower health status that indigenous women in Canada experience, we continue to recognize the diversity of experiences and locations that indigenous women have.

Current Project Examples

Honouring Our Strengths: Culture as Intervention in Addictions Treatment

This project is examining how Indigenous traditional culture is understood and practiced at 12 National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) and Youth Solvent Addiction Program (YSAP) treatment centres and is developing a valid instrument to measure the impact of cultural interventions on client wellness.

Funding: Canadian Institute of Health Research Operating Grant, Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health

Investigators and Collaborators: Peter Menzies, Jonathan Thompson, Colleen Dell,
Sharon Acoose, Peter Butt, Elder Jim Dumont, Marwa Farag, Joseph Gone, Carol Hopkins, Chris Mushquash, Rod McCormick, David Mykota , Nancy Poole, Bev Shea, Virgil Tobias, Chris Mushquash

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Treating Drug Addiction with Animal Assisted Therapy

The aim of this project is to better understand how Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) can assist Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth and adults in their treatment for drug addiction. Applying a One Health framework, which acknowledges the interdependent relationship between humans, animals and the environment to achieve optimal health & is attuned with an Indigenous paradigm, this unique project includes a literature review, site visits, and mixed-method data collection to learn more about how dogs and horses assist in adult and youth residential facilities to achieve client wellness and overcome addiction and trauma.

Funding: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse Grant

Investigators and Collaborators: Colleen Anne Dell, Darlene Chalmers, Sharon Acoose, Allison Bokitch, Peter Butt, Andrew Field, Jennifer Gareau, James Gillett, Sue Nadon, Crystal Petryk, Nancy Poole, Joe Stookey, Hugh Townsend
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Recent Peer Reviewed Publications

1. Poole, N., Chansonneuve, D., & Hache, A. (2014). Improving substance use treatment for First Nations and Inuit women: Recommendations arising from a virtual inquiry project. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 8(2), 7-23. Link

2. Nathoo, T., Poole, N., Bryans, M., Dechief, L., Hardeman, S., Marcellus, L., et al. (2013). Voices from the community: Developing effective community programs to support pregnant and early parenting women who use alcohol and other substances. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 8(1), 94-106. Link

3. de Finney, S., Greaves, L., Janyst, P., Hemsing, N., Jategaonkar, N., Browne, A., . . . Poole, N. (2013). “I had to grow up pretty quickly”: Cultural and gender contexts of Aboriginal girls’ smoking. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 11(2), 151-170. Link

Recent Reports and Knowledge Exchange Materials

1. Badry, D. and Nathoo, T. (2014). Moving from Hardship to Resilience (Photo essay). Ottawa, Ontario: Canada FASD Research Network. (not online yet)

2. Nota Bene Consulting Group and BC Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. (2013). Mapping Evaluation of FASD Programs in Aboriginal Communities. Evaluation of FASD Prevention and FASD Support Programs. Vancouver, BC: British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s. Link

Linked Websites

Visit the Evaluation of FASD Prevention and FASD Support Programs website
Visit the Coalescing on Women and Substance Use website

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