MNO Citizens Present at National Health Conferences CPHA and CSEB

Abbigail Simms, Gabriel Tjong and Sabastian Koprich attend CSEB

The health and wellbeing of Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizens has always been a top priority for the MNO; and spearheading Métis-specific health research is an essential part of closing existing gaps in health outcomes for Métis in the province.

Recently, a collaboration between the MNO and research partner the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) provided MNO citizen-researchers, Abigail Simms and Sabastian Koprich, with an incredible opportunity to present Métis-centred health research and findings at two national health policy conferences.

The conferences, put on by the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) and the Canadian Society for Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CSEB), brought researchers, public health officials, policy-leaders, and students to Hailifax in June 2023. Indigenous perspectives were incorporated into the conferences and emphasized the significance of Indigenous cultural safety in public health practice.

“I think it’s important to present on Métis health and research at public health conferences to bring awareness to the health and wellness needs of Métis people,” says Abigail. “I came away from these experiences with new research questions and directions that may be of interest to the MNO – there are so many things you can do with the data we have, which is very exciting!”

Determined to ensure Métis perspectives are featured in national dialogues on public health, MNO citizens Abigail and Sabastian (along with colleagues Tatiana Baziw, Leah Quinlan, Gabriel Tjong and Noel Tsui) presented their research on contemporary issues impacting MNO communities, including:

  • Household food insecurity amongst MNO citizens (CPHA & CSEB)
  • Housing conditions and self-reported health in MNO (CPHA)
  • Understanding the relationship between housing and health of MNO citizens (CPHA)
  • COVID-19 vaccine intentions amongst Métis parents of children under 11 years old in Ontario (CPHA)
  • Hepatitis C (HCV) prevalence in MNO citizens (CSEB)
  • Prevalence of HIV among MNO citizens (CSEB)
  • Monitoring Cardiovascular Disease in MNO citizens (CSEB)

Abigail stresses the importance of having Métis-specific health research to understand where MNO citizens are doing well and where needs are not being met:

“Once you have this picture, which you can get with health research and data, this information can help shape policies to create programs and services,” says Abigail. “We have now had a few MNO citizens, including myself, working with [ICES] so it has been really exciting seeing capacity being built within the Métis community to do this work too.”

Sebastian too, echoes the importance of Métis specific health research, claiming:

“The data sovereignty of each distinct Indigenous group is important to be recognized, and a lot of literature currently available pan-indigenizes data [and] fails to identify the unique differences between Indigenous groups. So, these gaps in Métis-specific research are important to address.”

For Sebastian, this work is helps him connect with community in a meaningful way.

“Researching Métis health and working with the MNO is a form of healing in a way, to give a voice to Métis,” he says. “I love doing research, and I have always been motivated to get better education so I could help in more ways.”

The MNO would like to extend its deepest appreciation to the MNO citizens who generously shared their thoughts and experiences as well as the researchers and those who contributed to this body of research, including Shelley Cripps, Robynn Sadler, Keith King, Sarah Edwards, Amy Mersereau, Cindi Rye, David Crenna, Jeff Evenson, Samantha Morais and Andrew Mendlowitz.