Rewriting/Re-Righting first nations, métis, and inuit public health research in Canada: a commentary of the public health agency of Canada’s maternity experiences survey
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Western University Canada
University of Calgary, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1591
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) population health research frameworks rely on aggregated statistics, which perpetuates generalized stigma and fails to address differences and disparities within racial/ethinic groups. In particular, Indigenous peoples in Canada disproportionately experience poorer health outcomes in comparison to the general population, with health disparities such as cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, mental health, and reduced life expectancy being attributed to the lasting effects of colonialism. In addition to young and growing Indigenous demographics, there is a need to address Indigenous maternal-child health disparities. In 2009, the PHAC released the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey to provide evidence-based recommendations for improvements in maternity care, and maternal and infant health. In alignment with Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, proposed efforts to focus on indicators such as infant mortality, maternal health, mental health, and availability of appropriate health services are essential. Moving forward, perinatal health research should thus consider engaging directly with Indigenous communities and other stakeholders such as birth partners, Elders, and health care workers to develop a more robust understanding of the current state of Indigenous health. The presentation analyzes PHAC’s models for public health engagement to identify gaps in both understanding and creating effective strategies to improve the overall health outcomes in Indigenous communities. The incorporation of Indigenous epistemologies and ontologies recognizes that Indigenous peoples have the knowledge best suited to address the concerns of their communities and is therefore integral in producing research that is culturally relevant and representative of their needs. Although the credibility of Indigenous methodologies are continuously scrutinized against Western methodological standards, the presentation challenges frameworks rooted within quantitative, epidemiological, and economic research methods that fail to address health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Canada.
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