Health Research Initiatives

The MNO Healing and Wellness Branch has undertaken several research initiatives to gain insight into the health needs of Métis citizens in Ontario.

Chronic Disease Surveillance

Funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada made a Chronic Disease Surveillance Research Initiative in the Métis population possible. The project got underway in March 2008,  when the MNO Registry began “scrubbing” registry data. This enabled the Healing and Wellness Branch to anonymously cross reference Registry data with provincial health records through the Institute of Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES). In total, three data “runs” on three chronic diseases are planned. Two, diabetes and cancer prevalence, have already been identified. The third will be determined based on findings of the diabetes and cancer investigations.

Healthy Messaging

A project called “Healthy Messages, Métis Specificity and Cultural Competency” employed focus groups to help the MNO gain insight in:

  • the perspective of focus group participants on Pan-Aboriginal/ Métis specific health promotion materials in the media and programs and services directed at the Métis population in Ontario;
  • the concept of Métis specificity in Ontario; and
  • the concept of cultural competency in Ontario.

The results indicate a real need to increase the amount of health information available to Métis in the province because awareness is quite low. Knowledge about living a healthy lifestyles and preventing serious disease and illness is minimal.

The information collected through the focus groups will support MNO in the delivery of a province wide health campaign because it helped to identify the audience, the gaps in knowledge and the kind of product required to make sure messages hit home.

Youth Identity Project

The Youth Identity Project was funded by the Centre for Excellence in Children and Youth Mental Health and the Ontario Native Women’s Association, with support from the Métis Centre at the National Aboriginal Health Organization. The objective of the program was to consult with, in an ethical manner which respected values and customs, non status and status First Nations living off reserve, Métis and Inuit youth in Ontario about their concept of identity and possible links between identity and mental health and well being. At the heart of the Youth Identity Project was a dialogue with First Nations off-reserve, Métis and Inuit youth, both status and non-status, between the ages of 16 and 26, across Ontario. The consultative, youth-driven process was designed to empower youth and encourage them to voice their collective thoughts and opinions related to identity and mental health in a safe and supportive environment. The anticipated outcome is that this information will contribute to the development of more effective programs and services for youth in Aboriginal communities.

Process

The series of youth consultations with off-reserve First Nations (status and non-status), Métis and Inuit youth between the ages of 16 and 26 in Ontario, attempted to uncover consistent themes about youth concepts of their own identity. The Project Team facilitators wanted to hear from urban Aboriginal youth about some of the day to day life experiences that they face and the impact of those experiences on their identity.  There is hope this project will kickstart ongoing engagement amongst urban Aboriginal youth about topics like identitiy. The project report will provide an overview of some of the key issues that surfaced through the consultations. That information will be used to influence policy and program development within funding organizations. The report final report on the Youth Identity Project will be available soon.

Our Health Counts

There is, at this time, very little Métis-specific population health data available to those in the province who want to make improvements to Ontario’s Health Information System. That is the reason the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) has joined other Core Aboriginal Organizational Partners such as the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC), Tungasuvvingat Inuit (TI) and the Ontario Native Women’s Association (ONWA) in efforts to collect baseline health data for Aboriginal peoples in Ontario.

“Our Health Counts: Development and Application of a Baseline Population Health Database for Urban Aboriginal People in Ontario” is a research initiative that will respect the cultures, languages, knowledge, values, and rights to self-determination of the Métis of Ontario. The Métis specific health data collected through the initiative will help to ensure the provision of accessible, useful, and culturally relevant urban Aboriginal population health data to local, small region, and provincial policy makers. MNO’s participation in the collection of Métis specific data will be community based and participatory and be driven by respondents. The data collected will be handled with strict adherence to data management protocols.

Indigenous Knowledge Networks

The Indigenous Knowledge Networks (IKN) is another research initiative that will enhance Métis infant, child and family health in Ontario and Saskatchewan. The IKN will gather, synthesize, and apply locally relevant Indigenous and public health knowledge to culture-based parenting and infant/toddler health promotion programs.

The six project partners involved will host community based research activities and identify two community research team members: a project liaison and a network
participant to help complete the data collection.

IKN Partners:

  • Métis Nation of Ontario
  • Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres
  • Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto
  • Meadow Lake Tribal Council
  • Canoe Lake
  • Village of Ile a la Crosse

The goals of IKN are to:

  • develop, maintain, and evaluate a network of Métis and First Nations front line health workers, policy makers, knowledge keepers and Indigenous academics;
  • conduct an international review of Indigenous culture- based parenting and infant/toddler health promotion programs and share the results with communities;
  • assess and further develop existing, locally relevant baseline public health data sources which communities can utilize to evaluate their programs;
  • support communities in uncovering and archiving original Indigenous infant, child, and family health knowledge using oral history;
  • support communities in articulating underlying local core values, attitudes, knowledge, and skills regarding infant, child, and family health that influence
  • health programming;
  • support communities applying the knowledge acquired to enhance existing culture-based parenting or infant/toddler health promotion programs in their community;
  • facilitate the sharing and uptake of study results to existing networks with similar mandates and contribute to the development of additional regional networks.