HARC Contributors Present at UNBC Research Week

From February 27 to March 3, 2023, several HARC contributors presented at UNBC Research Week. The following presentations highlight some of the beautiful work emerging from the Health Arts Research Centre. A big thanks to UNBC for providing a platform to share our research!

“Auntie-Work: Generational Healing” – Vanessa Mitchell, PhD student, Health Sciences

Abstract: In the disciplines of health and education there is a sense of recognition that every person has a role to play in relation to reconciliation and cultural safety. As settler sectors are being called to move beyond talking to taking real action, demands for both cultural safety and reconciliation training and education within settler sectors are increasing. My research is centred upon (re)connecting to the essence of Auntie as a way to decolonize and mitigate risks of contemporary colonial institutions that now asking Indigenous peoples to fix the harms inflicted and caused by Euro-white-settler coloniality. The central question of my doctoral research is thus: “How can Auntie-work foster wellness for Indigenous womyn during a time of increased pressure and demand on them by non-Indigenous settlers looking to advance cultural safety and reconciliation training and education within colonial spaces?” My approach is to centre Indigenous principles of storywork (Archibald, 2008) and of enowkinwixw (Armstrong, 2008). My research also embraces the concept of “Auntie,” a concept that has deep resonance within Indigenous families and communities, which encompasses knowledge and caring and leadership and guidance, and is a concept that is not clearly understood or amply written about outside Indigenous circles. The intention of my research is to explore through conversation and the art of visiting what it means to embrace the essence of Auntie as an Indigenous womyn leader navigating colonial systems.

“Be/Cause You Care Box: A Northern BC Cultural Humility Curriculum Pilot Project Embracing Creative Practices, Self-Reflection, and Good Ol’ Snail Mail” – Marion Erickson, Research Manager, Health Arts Research Centre; Lisa Striegler; Dr. Sarah de Leeuw; Kelsey Chamberlin; Katriona Auerbach*

Abstract: Who doesn’t love getting a beautiful goody-filled box in the mail? Who amongst us doesn’t want to expand our understandings about combatting anti-Indigenous racism and strengthening our cultural humility skills? Especially in these times of Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Calls to Action, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the 2021 In Plain Sight Report. These are the broadest Tuesday, February 28: 2023 Research Week Page 9 of 30underlying assumptions of the Be/Cause You Care Box, a project piloted by the Health Arts Research Centre (HARC) in the Northern Medical Program, a distributed site of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine at the University of Northern British Columbia. Begun in 2020, and funded by UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, Northern Health, and Indigenous Services Canada, the Be/Cause You Care Box is designed for healthcare learners and professionals, of all levels, who are committed to learning about Indigenous peoples, communities, and healthcare needs – including how Indigenous health is negatively impacted by coloniality and anti-Indigenous racism. The boxes are filled with creative and educational activities that are low-barrier, self-directed, tangible, and supportive. This presentation, where examples of the box will be on display for “show and tell,” leads participants through the process of designing and peer-reviewing the boxes, crafting the box content, producing creative pieces of the curriculum contained in the box, and then sending out and receiving feedback on the box. Box production and evaluation have undergone diverse research and assessment, all of which participants will also learn about.

*Our diverse authorship team is comprised of Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the Health Arts Research Centre (HARC), located on unceded traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh, part of the Dakelh (Carrier) nation.

“Promoting Perinatal Well-Being of Young People in Rural, Northern, and Indigenous Geographies” – Kelsey Chamberlin, MA student, Interdisciplinary Studies

Abstract: Early age (≤24) birth rates in northern British Columbia (BC) are the highest in the province. Compared to adults, young people navigating pregnancy, birth, and early parenting are at risk of experiencing a host of adverse outcomes. Despite this, little is known about how to promote perinatal well-being of northern and Indigenous young people. This presentation introduces my current master’s thesis research that attends to this gap, by asking: What promising practices promote perinatal well-being of young people in rural, northern, and Indigenous geographies? My research transpires in the Widzin Kwah/Bulkley Valley watershed in connection to a community organization currently building a supportive housing program for young mothers and birthing people. This presentation discusses my process of weaving a methodology best suited to the peoples and places at the centre of my research. In this way, I weave together anti-colonial and intersectional praxis, critical place inquiry, and communitydriven and strengths-based approaches, which collectively value living/ed experience as legitimate forms of knowledge in developing evidence-based care. I also discuss preliminary findings from 10 land- and story-based interviews I conducted with knowledge holders, and my plans for knowledge translation. This presentation contributes to growing conversations about place-based and action-oriented solutions to achieve health equity and reproductive justice for northern and Indigenous young people.


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