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  • Writer's pictureMarielle Moraleja

Meet Dr. Persaud and Her Experience Working in Thunder Bay!

Dr. Savitri Persaud is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Health and Society working with the Benoit Lab. Sav is the qualitative lead who will primarily be working on the CIHR-funded WHiSE 2.0 research project assessing Indigenous-specific harm reduction needs and increasing access and knowledge of harm reduction in the Northern Ontario communities of Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and Sudbury.

Sav was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health after completing a PhD in the Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought (York University), where her SSHRC-funded (Social Science and Humanities Research Council) doctoral research explored how mental distress is understood and experienced in Guyana and among Caribbean diasporas.

Sav recently returned from a research trip to Thunder Bay where she worked with elders, peers, and community organizations and research partners (Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy [Oahas] & Elevate NWO) to conduct a focus group with Indigenous women related to the creation of an Indigenous Healing Program per the women’s priorities to centre Indigenous healing approaches (e.g., smudging, medicine picking, land-based activities, creating medicine bundles), including ceremonies (e.g., full moon ceremony, birth drum ceremony, letting go ceremony, and blanket ceremony).

Sav wishes to express her sincere thanks to Elder Linda Barkman, Melissa Deschamps, Candida Sinoway, Holly Gauvin, Elaine Toombs, and the teams at Oahas and Elevate NWO for welcoming her and for their vital support during her time in Thunder Bay – miigwech! This important work is a part of Sav’s larger program of research, which focuses on BIPOC health equity (specifically in Caribbean and Indigenous communities) and utilizes critical public health approaches, disability studies frameworks, and transnational feminist teachings to centre BIPOC communities and their health priorities. The focus group session was a success and we can't wait to re-visit Thunder Bay in a couple of months. Stay tuned!

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