MNO Senator Lois McCallum
MNO Senator Lois McCallum opens the MNO Workshop “Understanding and
Enhancing Métis Public Health Using Participatory Action Research” with a
moving recitation of MNO’s Statement of Prime Purpose.

The Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) was ‘front and centre’ at the 2013 Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Annual Conference held in Ottawa on June 9-12, presenting three papers on the MNO’s Chronic Disease Surveillance Program (CDSP) and offering a 90 minutes skills development workshop highlighting best research practices for working with Métis partners.

The first of its kind in Ontario, the CDSP is a landmark health surveillance project to determine the rates of key chronic diseases in Métis populations in Ontario – data previously unavailable. While the public health challenges among Métis populations are widely recognized, the data are significantly lacking, largely because Métis cultural identity information is not routinely collected in population and public health research, despite the large and growing numbers of Métis in Canada.

Spearheaded by the MNO and funded by the Public Health Association of Canada (PHAC), the CDSP research is being conducted in close collaboration with leading researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), a government supported scientific research institute dedicated to understanding illness rates and treatment outcomes. The MNO was initially approached by the Public Health Association of Canada to undertake this Métis specific research because of MNO’s highly reputable registry, known for the quality of its data. Knowledge gained from this important research initiative will be directed towards building much-needed programs, policies and services for addressing key Métis health needs.

The strong MNO presence at the CPHA Conference this year is significant. With over 900 delegates from the most senior levels of government, the health professions, and Canadian research institutions attending, the CPHA meeting is regarded as Canada’s pre-eminent conference on public health issues in the country. MNO’s involvement in key meetings such as the CPHA Conference do much to raise awareness of the significant health challenges faced by Métis communities throughout Ontario, and to demonstrate the important leadership MNO continues to provide in addressing these challenges.

MNO CPHA workshop panel
MNO CPHA workshop panel members (left to right) Storm Russell, Wenda Watteyne, David Henry,
Clare Atzema, Saba Khan, Martin Cooke and Yvon Allard.

During the CPHA conference, MNO held a workshop entitled Understanding and Enhancing Métis Public Health Using Participatory Action Research.

Workshop on Best Practices

Entitled Understanding and Enhancing Métis Public Health Using Participatory Action Research Approaches, the 90 minute workshop held on June 11 aimed to provide participants with practical knowledge and skills to support more effective and culturally relevant public health research and interventions with ‘at risk’ Métis populations. Using ‘best practice’ research examples and designed as a panel discussion, the workshop was opened by MNO Senator Lois McCallum who provided a moving reading of the MNO Statement of Prime Purpose.

Panel members included MNO Director of Healing and Wellness Wenda Watteyne, MNO Senior Policy and Research Analyst Dr. Storm Russell, MNO CDSP Research Coordinator Yvon Allard; Dr. David Henry of ICES and Dr. Saba Khan of ICES; Dr. Martin Cooke of the University of Waterloo; and Dr. Clare Atzema of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.


Along with the workshop, three oral presentations on different aspects of chronic disease were also delivered by members of MNO’s CDSP research team.

Dr. Storm Russell presented MNO’s preliminary research on selected mental health conditions among Ontario Métis, which pointed to the need for more work in this area across a broader range of mental health issues, and with larger samples. Yvon Allard presented a paper on the Burden of Chronic Respiratory Disease in the Métis Population in Ontario which highlighted the unacceptably high rates of adult asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer among Métis citizens in Ontario. Dr. Saba Khan reported the CDSP findings on various cancer rates among the Métis.

Together these results demonstrate that MNO’s research in this field is providing the critical first steps required to understand the underlying issues affecting the health of Métis people in Ontario. The findings are essential for determining the health priorities of Métis people in Ontario and for ensuring that health programs, services and resources are responsive to the specific needs of the Métis. By increasing awareness of the significant health challenges facing Métis, the MNO is playing a key leadership role in addressing these issues, and in providing much-needed direction to decision makers involved in providing the essential supports required to improve the health of Métis people.