Researchers and elders receive hefty grant to study birthing and childrearing
- EFN Staff | January 24, 2022
The First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) has been awarded a 4-year CIHR Project Grant worth approximately $500K to study traditional birthing and child-rearing teachings of Elders and Knowledge Keepers from the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC).
The project called, Takohpinawasowin will develop educational materials on traditional birthing and child-rearing.
“Takohpinawasowin is intended to provide a culturally safe, place-based, supportive environment where community members can story and re-story their experiences and their understanding of birth and child-rearing practices," said Brenda Green the nominated principal investigator.
According to the news release, Takohpinawasowin is a Cree word that means ‘wrapping around to support each other where life-giving and childrearing is a community responsibility and wholistic activity.’
“We hope to support a renewed relationship with the land, build community capacity for traditional family bonding and reflect on the strengths of how to incorporate traditional customary practices into mainstream health services,” said Green.
She added that it's important to incorporate Indigenous health practices into everything but it can sometimes be difficult.
“I think that's basically the biggest issue,” said Green. “Trying to maneuver the western healthcare system into a more inclusive and socially responsible and culturally safe process that enables … communities to heal themselves.”
The planning and meetings for the project started before the Covid-19 pandemic, however the group was able to continue the momentum.
“We have been meeting virtually for about two years now and just planning out this process,” said Green. “The next step is to basically start the research process.”
This will include having a community agreement in place with the various tribal councils then hopefully hiring Indigenous community people as research assistants and research coordinators for the duration of the project.
The goal of the 4-year CIHR Research Project Grant will be used to create educational materials that could bring the community together to support families in life-giving practices.
Colleen Strongarm, a knowledge keeper from the Kawacatoose First Nation, initiated the project with a $5,000.00 grant from Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research to establish and support a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of community Knowledge Keepers and Elders.
Green said the Takohpinawasowin project is about helping Indigenous mother’s by using traditional practices with contemporary Western healthcare practices.
“What we're hoping to do with this study is incorporate traditional birthing practices into mainstream maternity healthcare,” said Green. “We can't force practitioners or nurses to do this, but we can teach them the value of understanding (the) cultural (components).”
Other members of the advisory committee include elders Rose Pambrum from Muskowekwan First Nation, Edna Brass from Kawacatoose First Nation, Mary McNab from George Gordon First Nation and Monica Buffalo from Day Star First Nation. The research team consists of Green, Kathleen O’Reilly, Cassandra Wajuntah, Elizabeth Cooper and Anna Leah King.