Wise Practices Framework for Research with Indigenous Peoples: a story of long-term, multidisciplinary, multi-institution, community partnership

Wise Practices Framework for Research with Indigenous Peoples: a story of long-term, multidisciplinary, multi-institution, community partnership

Dr. Deanna Bickford is a Registered Nurse and faculty member in the Georgian College Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program. Her research focuses on bringing her students, colleagues, and partners together to reveal healthcare opportunities and issues and to co-create solutions using a positive and appreciative stance. For almost a decade, Deanna has worked with youth, Elders, Chiefs, Council and community members, researchers and peers at Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Deanna recently shared her work at a Research, Scholarship and Innovation Lunch and Learn event. During the session she told the story of a long-term, multidisciplinary, multi-institution community partnership that explored the Paths to Living Well for First Nations Youth. She detailed a series of community-based participatory research projects that make up the Wise Practices Framework for Research with Indigenous Peoples.

Paths to Living Well, a photovoice research project, was one example Deanna provided. In this community research project, she and her co-researchers explored the meaning of health to youth between 9 and 17 years of age. Participants in this study were asked to take photos of what made and kept them healthy. They were interviewed and asked to describe the photos they chose. From this work emerged several themes including the importance of connection to family, time and place, the environment, and culture. The youth identified physical activity, relationships, success, culture, and spiritualty as factors contributing to a healthy life, while losing friends, trying to fit in, and moving away from or towards family were identified as factors contributing to dis-wellness.

In the PLAY Project, elders and youth co-created modules that were delivered during a winter camp at a local school. One module focused on winter counts, a pictograph record of historical and memorable events, and participants created their own. Community based participatory research projects like this one mean that the youth talk to their family members, who share their knowledge and history with the younger generation. The youth then determined what was important to them and what they would include in their pictograph. They created their own winter counts, choosing the ink colour and the piece of hide with no restrictions or specifications. Deanna’s findings from community-based projects indicate a need for a flexible, reflexive, respectful and responsive practices in research with Indigenous peoples; Wise Practices can meet that need.

Many researchers approach their work with a Western lens that values structured numerical thinking, but this does not hold a place or allow space for traditional knowledge. The Wise Practices Framework presents an alternative that is adaptive, flexible, creative, reflexive, pragmatic and encompasses all world views. During her Research, Scholarship, and Innovation Lunch and Learn presentation Deanna explained that this means “working with, rather than working on people and moving forward by acknowledging the past and looking to the future.” The Wise Practices framework evolved from research, review and reflection and considers ethics, colonialism, cultural, environmental, political and social factors.

Deanna put it best when she said that “reconciliation needs to be forward thinking, an awareness of the past, atonement for causes, and changing our actions into new behaviors that contribute to new types of reciprocal relationships in research.”

To learn more about the Wise Practices Framework please visit Bernick Online, Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship’s (RIE) YouTube channel to watch Dr. Bickford‘s presentation. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE while you are there so you do not miss any of the content from our team.

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