[WEBINAR] tSCI and Indigenous Populations: Using an Indigenous Lens

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tSCI and Indigenous Populations: Using an Indigenous Lens to Establish Meaningful Data

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Our mixed-methods pilot study “Indigenous populations and traumatic spinal cord injury: using an Indigenous lens to establish meaningful data” is guided by the epistemologies of Anishinaabe/Cree and Haudenosaunee peoples in Ontario: The Medicine Wheel and Two Row Wampum respectively. The medicine wheel has many teachings, but for our study, the wheel represents Indigenous perspectives of wholistic health: An equal balance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The philosophical principles of alliance building embedded in the Two Row Wampum inform how we rebuild trust and cooperation to re-establish healthy and productive research relationships.

Participants will learn how we take this approach as an exemplar for the design of a pilot-study bridging Indigenous epistemology to research to develop a strengths-based narrative about First Nations persons living with a TSCI, which could inform health care practices and policies.

Meet the Presenters

Dr. Melanie Jeffrey is a settler of British descent from the Parry Sound area. Melanie has research interests in neurological disorders, Indigenous wellness, ecology, and wholistic health care. She lives with a neurological disorder (epilepsy) and is the current President of Epilepsy Ontario. Her first undergraduate degree was in Film (York University, 1999) and her second was in Health Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Melanie earned her PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology at the University of Toronto (2014). Melanie completed two postdoctoral fellowships, one funded by Epilepsy Canada in Fundamental Neurobiology studying fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 2014-2016) and the other working on the working with Dr. Sandra Juutilainen on a mixed-methods study funded by Praxis Spinal Cord Institute (formerly the Rick Hansen Institute) and the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation studying best practices to create a provincial spinal cord injury database that is relevant and meaningful to Indigenous persons and peoples. Melanie continues to work with the Centre for Indigenous Studies, Human Biology, and the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto to collaboratively develop curriculum at the interface of Indigenous and Western knowledge systems, including “Indigenous Health Systems”, “Ethics of Indigenous Research”, and “Ecological Interactions: Intro to Indigenous and Western Sciences” and “Holistic Indigenous Health.”

Dr. Sandra Juutilainen is a member of Oneida Nation of the Thames and also of Finnish-Canadian heritage. She has experience working in the area of Indigenous health at the community, provincial and federal level in Canada and with Sami communities in the Nordic countries. She completed a PhD in Health Sciences at the University of Oulu, Finland in 2017. Upon return to Canada, she received a Health System Impact Fellowship award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Her work was embedded at Public Health Ontario and University of Waterloo. She is currently Assistant Professor – Indigenous Health and Nutrition, in the School of Nutrition, Ryerson University.

Her ongoing research projects include a mixed-methods study funded by the Praxis Spinal Cord Institute (formerly the Rick Hansen Institute) and Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation: "Indigenous populations and spinal cord injury: utilizing an Indigenous lens to establish meaningful data”. Sandra brings her experience with Indigenous health, building respectful research relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations, and qualitative analyses to the project.

Research interests include: Indigenous health, spinal cord injury, human rights, critical public health, food security, food sovereignty, reconciliation, qualitative and Indigenous methodologies.

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