Health Perceptions of Dene First Nations Youth in a Community Context

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: health, social sciences, youth perspective

Principal Investigator: Lines, Laurie-Ann (3)
Licence Number: 15935
Organization: University of Alberta
Licensed Year(s): 2016
Issued: Jul 27, 2016
Project Team: Laurie-Ann Lines (Principal Investigator, University of Alberta), Dr. Cindy Jardine (Research Supervisor, University of Alberta), Research Assistant (Research Assistant, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To understand Yellowknives Dene First Nation youths’ perceptions of health meaning and agency within their community, environment, and in future health research, contextualized by community members.

Project Description: The main objective of this research is to understand Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) youths’ perceptions of health meaning and agency within their community, environment, and in future health research, contextualized by community members. Capturing a relevant and appropriate understanding of health meaning and current issues will lead to more effective health programming in these communities. In addition, this research may open up avenues for dialogue in the community about youths’ involvement in changing health issues.

The planning of the research, organization of the workshop, and recruitment will be done in partnership with the YKDFN Wellness Division. The project will have two parts based on holistic, participatory, and Indigenous approaches:
I. Organize an On-the-Land Leadership Workshop where data collection of youths’ perceptions of health will be interwoven with leadership skill development and cultural activities over the period of a week. During the leadership workshop, the Principal Investigator will survey, conduct sharing circle reflections, and coordinate a photo and mural project with roughly 10-20 YKDFN youth (ages 13-19) to understand their perceptions of: 1) Conceptions of health meaning; 2) Health issues and priorities; 3) Tailoring healthy information and research to youth; 4) Their place in future health research; and 5) Their role addressing health issues with their community and environment.

II. Present youths’ perceptions to 5-10 Elders and YKDFN members living a traditional lifestyle to capture their perspective and give greater context to the youths’ perceptions, in terms of community context. Attempts will be made to gain more perspective from community members to find out why they think these issues are specific to a First Nation group as opposed to non-natives, Metis, and Inuit groups, largely through community reflection similar to a sharing circle and through storytelling interviews.

About 10-20 youth and 5-10 community member participants will be selected by age (for youth), availability, Dene traditional lifestyle (for community members) and community preference (such as including a variety of family linage and at-risk youth) with assistance from the YKDFN Wellness Division. Youth will be recruited through partnership with the YKDFN Wellness Division staff who will advertise the camp in the afterschool program, community schools, door-to-door flyer hand-outs, e-mail distribution list, camp promotional evenings for youth, and monthly community family night events. Elders and community members will be recruited by purposeful and convenience sampling as limited by Elder mobility, availability, language translation accessibility, and Dene cultural etiquette (for example, if they are grieving from a recent loss then they will not be contacted). In addition, the aim is to have members who are living a traditional lifestyle, from different families in the community, and represent an equal mix of genders. All steps in the recruitment will be guided by and carried out alongside the YKDFN Wellness Division.

In order to capture stories accurately, the PI will use audio recordings and/or videotaping of discussions according to participant preference. Some of the sharing circle work will be recorded by use of a flip chart during discussions and art work. Findings will be shared with the YKDFN Wellness Division to confirm accuracy in representation. In addition, any publications stemming from the research will allow for the YKDFN Wellness Division to have co-authorship.

The project will not only impact the understanding of First Nations community-based projects where youth are agents of change in an academic context, but also impact the community itself. Participatory measures involving youth in public health initiatives have made impacts in targeted communities, particularly youth. In particular, photo projects highlight community strengths, promotes critical dialogue about community issues, and reaches policymakers and stakeholders with relevant issues and experiences. The project is in collaboration with the local Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) Wellness Division that anticipates using outcomes in their mandate to shape prevention and community health promotion. In addition, through focus group discussions, YKDFN members and leaders will gain insight, awareness and critical evaluation of how youth perceive health and their role in it. The process will build capacity with youth as they acquire knowledge in various areas and aim to increase future involvement in community health.

Findings will be shared with the participants, YKDFN Wellness Division, YKDFN Chief and Council, and YKDFN community at large. A community presentation will be made in each community during the YKDFN Wellness Division's monthly family nights. In addition, any publications stemming from the research will allow for the YKDFN Wellness Division to have co-authorship.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 15, 2016 to December 30, 2016.