Learning for Health: An Exploration of Gwich’in Strengths and Experiences to Inform Gwich’in Tribal Council Policy and Programs

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Gwich'in Settlement Area

Tags: health, social sciences, wellness, medical travel, community-based research, cultural identity

Principal Investigator: Milligan, Crystal (1)
Licence Number: 16711
Organization: Gwich'in Tribal Council
Licensed Year(s): 2020
Issued: Mar 16, 2020
Project Team: Sharon Snowshoe

Objective(s): To identify strategic priorities for the GTC Wellness division; to explore youth cultural identity; and to document Gwich'in challenges during medical travel.

Project Description: This licence has been issued for the scientific research application No.4673.

The Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) has designed a research project related to health and wellness in Gwich’in communities. The information gathered from this project will be used for GTC activities in two areas: youth cultural identity, and medical travel. It will also be used to identify strategic priorities for the GTC Wellness Division.

The research questions for this project are:

1. How does cultural identity support the health and wellness of Gwich’in youth? What strengths do Gwich’in youth pull from their cultural traditions?

2. What are the experiences and navigation challenges of Gwich’in patients during medical travel?

The GTC Executive and Department of Cultural Heritage will oversee this research. The Designated Gwich’in Organizations (DGOs) in each community will also play an important role giving advice and guidance. The research team will consult with the DGOs at all stages of the research, including developing and sharing final results.

This research will use Indigenous storywork. Storywork uses personal stories to learn and build relationships. The researcher will collect stories from Gwich’in youth and adults.

Gwich’in youth will participate in a group interview in one community. Gwich’in adults with experience on medical travel will participate in individual interviews held in Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic, Fort McPherson and Inuvik.

With permission, the stories will be tape recorded. Interviews will last 1 to 1.5 hours. Longer and shorter sessions are possible. Follow-up interviews may be held. They will answer questions to clarify the stories and understand what participants want for future programs or policy.

The project will not involve research activities within a hospital, health centre or other GNWT healthcare facility.

Planning and oversight: Consultation and planning with the Designated Gwich’in Organizations will begin in December 2019-January 2020. They will be asked to advise on engagement and communication with Gwich’in in each community. The Principal Investigator (PI) will follow their advice at the planning stage and throughout the course of the research, particularly with regard to engagement with community members.

Data collection and analysis: The DGOs will be asked for guidance when recruiting knowledge holders (research participants). They will be up to date at all times on activities in their respective communities. When all data are collected, the PI will do a first analysis. She will then check the first analysis to the knowledge holders to ensure the analysis is accurate and respectful.

Validation of results: As soon as possible, the results will be shared with DGOs and the communities. They will be presented for feedback and discussion about what programs they wish to see from GTC. This feedback and discussion will help to finalize results before they are shared with more people and organizations.

Results dissemination and knowledge exchange: Results will be shared throughout all communities in the Gwich'in Settlement Area. The research team will follow DGO advice regarding how the results should be shared. Results will also be shared in writing with other stakeholders like the NWT Department of Health and Social Services, NWT Health and Social Services Authority, and Health Canada. With GTC and other community partners (e.g., DGOs) the PI may write articles for publications in health journals. Credit will be given to all partners in any publications or presentations. The GTC will keep all project deliverables and any data that contain Traditional Knowledge.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from March 17, 2020 to August 31, 2020.