Relationship building with First Nations and public health
Exploring principles and practices for engagement to improve community health
Ontario public health units deliver a broad range of population health programs. These programs aim to improve and protect the health of all and ensure everyone has equal opportunities for health. However, public health units do not systematically engage with First Nation communities to ensure a seamless public health system.
Within Northeastern Ontario, there are 39 First Nation communities where Indigenous people live on reserve land as designated within the Indian Act. This LDCP project intends to identify mutually beneficial, respectful and effective principles and practices of engagement between First Nation communities and public health units in Northeastern Ontario. Engagement, for the purposes of this project, is defined as a process of involvement through a respectful relationship.
Public health units have an interest in developing processes to effectively engage with First Nation communities in a respectful and mutually beneficial way. Little formal guidance is available to public health from the province on the best ways to do this. In addition, we know little about how First Nations wish to engage and collaborate with local public health units. Outcomes from this research will be an important first step in working towards improved opportunities for health for all. This project will be conducted in two parts that will focus on a literature review and an engagement scan.
The literature review of academic journals and other publications will explore principles and strategies of engagement and collaboration between Indigenous people and Canadian public sector agencies in the last 10 years. The purpose of the review is to find existing work for this project to build on.
A scan for examples of engagement between public health units (or other types of organizations) and Indigenous people and communities in the past 10 years will be conducted by the research team. The goal of the scan is to identify recent examples that we can learn from to help identify successful principles and strategies, in addition to those that have failed. This scan will be completed in two phases, involving an online survey (which will be sent to the Ontario public health units that have previously engaged with First Nations) and focus groups or sharing circles (involving
Northeast Ontario First Nation communities, Tribal Councils or First Nation regional health service organizations having engaged with public health).
Representatives with expertise, experience and Indigenous perspectives from communities within the Northeast will be responsible for guiding the project team and informing important decisions about the project’s design, direction and implementation, to ensure that the overall approach to this project includes First Nations voices.
The First Nations principles of Ownership, Control, Access and Possession, also known as OCAP will provide a comprehensive research framework which embraces self-determination as to how data involving First Nations is collected, used and shared.
The team will analyze and interpret the data to develop guidance in the form of potential principles and strategies for good engagement. They will actively share results with public health units, First Nations, and others who may have an interest in developing respectful engagement strategies.