Monday, 15 August 2016

Learning about Indigenous Health Research in Norway House

By Sarah Wood, 1st year MDP student

Sarah and summer solstice skies
My field placement began with an 8 hour car ride so far outside the city I didn’t even have CBC Radio to keep me company for much of the drive. Instead I kept myself entertained with intermittent black bear and bald eagle sightings. 

My placement is with Norway House Cree Nation and a research team from the University of Winnipeg who are jointly working on a project surrounding birthing and maternity services in this northern First Nations community. Currently, pregnant women living in Norway House travel to cities like Winnipeg to have their babies, but there is growing interest in understanding the challenges this poses to women and their families and exploring the option of births in Norway House.

Norway House Indian Hospital where every once and a while babies are delivered

I have been fortunate enough during my time here to speak briefly with hundreds of women and men at numerous events in the community. It has been interesting to navigate the practicalities of Indigenous research that we explored during our course work this past year. 

Specifically, I have met with a Community Advisory Committee who offered crucial feedback on our survey design. I have learned how O.C.A.P (Ownership, Control, Access, Possession) principles for research in First Nations communities are applied to this specific research project such as how the information collected for this research, that belongs to Norway House, will be stored.  I even had to make a radio advertisement to alert the community of my presence here. (Those of you who know me know that is this my nightmare). I am hopeful that this work will prove useful for the community in their efforts to steer their healthcare programs in whichever direction they decide is best.  

Aside from meeting survey quotas, I’ve been keeping myself busy by fighting with the internet connection, swimming, visiting waterfalls, and enjoying sunsets that last well past eleven in the evening.

The midway set up for the weekend at the waterfront, bursting with eager survey participants

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