Through the eyes of children: First Nations
children’s perceptions of health
Kyla English, MSc. Candidate
University of Western Ontario
In partnership with the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal
Health Access Centre (SOAHAC)
Co-Supervisors: Dr. C.A.M. Richmond & Dr. D. Rudman
May 2014
Background Information
 First Nations children face health disparities
 Cultural Identity
 “a complex of features that together shape how a
person thinks about herself or himself as an Aboriginal
person” (RCAP, 1996, p. 523)
 enhanced through traditional teachings and cultural
 Little exploration of First Nations children’s
perceptions of health
(Gracey & King, 2009; Greenwood & de Leeuw, 2012; Isaak & Marchessault, 2008; King, Smith, & Gracey, 2009; RCAP, 1996)
Research Objectives
1) To understand how First Nations children
think about their health, with an emphasis
on the activities connected to health
2) To explore how these children connect
health and culture
Community-based Participatory Research:
Working with the Community
Picture on Left
Top (left to right): Debbie Rudman, Kyla English, Melanie
Knott, Nancy Noganosh, Hannah Tait-Neufeld, Summer
Bressette, Carlene Mennen, Cindy Smithers Graeme
Bottom (left to right): Chantelle Richmond, Jocelyn Shutt,
Liz Akiwenzie
Missing: Doug George, Brian Dokis
Picture on Right
(Left to right): Erik Mandawe, Kylie Bressette,
Summer Bressette, Kyle Dolson, Kyla English,
Keesis Nadjiwon, Cindy Smithers Graeme
Missing: Marley Fisher
Bimaadiziwin Learning Experience (BLE)
• August 19 – 23, 2013
• 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
• Located at GLC
• Free of charge
• Lunch and snacks provided
• Cultural activities
• Research activities
• 4 Research Assistants
Study Participants
 20 First Nations children
 10-12 years old
 Oneida Nation of the Thames, Chippewas
of the Thames First Nation, Kettle and
Stony Point First Nation, Walpole Island
First Nation
 All were participants in the BLE
Research Activities
Data Collection
1) Painting
• Monday morning
• “What does being healthy look like to you?”
2) Sharing Circles
• Monday afternoon
• 4 circles, 4-5 children per circle
Data Analysis
• Inductive thematic analysis
Findings: Eating healthy foods
Findings: Being active
Findings: Cultural symbols
Discussion Points
Being Outside
 Outside viewed as healthy environment
 Children enjoyed outdoor activities
Importance of Relationships
 Family, friends influenced perceptions of health
 Parents viewed as role models, important sources
of health information
 Grandparents viewed as important sources of
cultural knowledge
Living Between Two Cultures
 Ideas of health largely centered around food and
 Children struggled to verbalize connection between
health and culture
Learning Through Doing
 Indigenous Knowledge largely gained through
 Children demonstrated preference for hands-on
(Richmond, 2014)
Implications for Health Promotion
 Involve community members,
especially grandparents and
Elders, in design and delivery
 Bring children out on the land
 Provide opportunities for
hands-on learning
 Incorporate Western and First
Nations ways of knowing and
ideas about health
multiple ways of
knowing and being
in the world is
fundamental to
effective research
and effective
health care
practice with and
for Aboriginal
(Greenwood & de
Leeuw, 2012, p. 7)
Thank you.
1. Gracey, M., & King, M. (2009). Indigenous health part 1: Determinants and disease
patterns. The Lancet, 374, 65-75.
2. Greenwood, M.L., & de Leeuw, S.N. (2012). Social determinants of health and the future
well-being of Aboriginal children in Canada. Paediatrics & Child Health, 17(7), 381-384.
3. Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. (1996). Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal
Peoples: Volume 4: Perspectives and realities. Ottawa, ON: Canada Communication Group –
4. King, M., Smith, A., & Gracey, M. (2009). Indigenous health part 2: The underlying causes
of the health gap. The Lancet, 374, 76-85.
5. Isaak, C.A., & Marchessault, G. (2008). Meaning of health: The perspectives of Aboriginal
adults and youth in a Northern Manitoba First Nations community. Canadian Journal of
Diabetes, 32(2), 114-122.
6. Richmond, C.A.M. (2014). Indigenous health (Unpublished). Western University, London ON.

similar documents