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Our Work

My expectations of the work I conduct is that it is meaningful and impactful to Indigenous peoples. My research would not be possible without the support of my community partners that serve Indigenous communities to meet their health and social needs. I hope that I am able to support their research ideas to the same degree they have done for me.

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Indigenous Women's Stress Study - IWSS

The Indigenous Women's Stress Study was conducted in Toronto and Thunder Bay. IWSS aimed to describe Indigenous women's life stressors, measure stress through salivary stress biomarkers and questionnaires, determine desired stress-reducing strategies and develop a stress-reducing intervention including Indigenous cultural practices.

CIHR Operating Grant 2016-23: $449,674

Walking for Harm Reduction through Street Engagement - WHiSE

Elevate NWO is a community-based, not-for-profit organization that provides services, opportunities and programs to improve the lives and empower people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis C in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario. WHiSE, a project conceptualized and led by Elevate NWO, was conducted to describe the harm reduction needs and practices of Indigenous people who use substances in Thunder Bay, Ontario. A public report and brief booklet describing the findings have been written.

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Our project is guided by a team of largely Indigenous people who conduct health research, provide and access harm reduction and health services, or do both. This project will create new knowledge on the harm reduction approaches and strategies desired and used by Indigenous people who use substances including STBBI and substance use rates in Thunder Bay, Sudbury, and Sault Ste Marie. This information is unavailable in two of our northern cities. By collecting more data in our three cities, we will have the opportunity to assess the success of harm reduction strategies for our Principal Applicants to modify their services to better meet the needs of their clients over a two-year period. Our research team understands the social, political, and historical contexts that have shaped the ongoing challenges of Indigenous people who use substances. Indigenous knowledges, values and cultures are important in this project.
CIHR Project Grant 2022-24: $971,550

Assessing Indigenous specific harm reduction needs and increasing access and knowledge of harm reduction - WHiSE 2.0


Establishing a circle of care for Indigenous people that increases access and use of Indigenous healing strategies

The vision for Circle of Care is to build an Indigenous Healing Program. In brief, it is anticipated that through discussions with Indigenous women, needed and wanted 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) will be identified and enacted in the program delivered by a Knowledge Carrier to learn and practice the approach. Through the program, it is anticipated that the women will be able to build their own circle of care and identify who they want in their circle (e.g., Knowledge Carriers, nurse, counsellor, or pharmacist).

CIHR Project Grant 2019-2023: $100,000

Indigenous women from the Sixties Scoop healing through the full moon ceremony and storytelling

The Sixties Scoop describes Canadian policies and practices from the 1950s to 1980s of forcibly removing Indigenous children from their families and communities. Children were placed into the foster care system or were adopted by non-Indigenous families in Canada, the United States and overseas. Survivors have discussed the ways in which the Sixties Scoop has negatively impacted their lives. This includes having identity struggles, forming unhealthy relationships with their adoptive families, having poor health, and feeling disconnected from their indigeneity. Reconnecting to Indigenous culture and knowledge can be a source of healing for Sixties Scoop survivors and may also contribute to restoring ties to indigeneity. A manuscript, blog, pamphlet and report have been developed for this project.

CIHR Project Grant 2019-2022: $25,000


The socio-cultural meanings associated with ‘ancestral or traditional’ food systems is an Indigenous determinant of health given their significance in ceremony; use by different gender and age groups; connections with different locations, seasons, and particular cultures; harvesting and gathering of local foods (i.e., plants, animals and water), and even decision-making. The overall purpose of the project is to conceptualize ‘food’ as an Indigenous determinant of health with historical and ongoing significance for Indigenous peoples in Canada. The research question is: What is the impact of food as a determinant of health for Indigenous Peoples? The objectives are to: 1) determine the characteristics of food as a determinant of health, 2) describe the role of food as a means to promote cultural continuity, and 3) initiate discussions on exploring food as a methodology. Indigenous women will participate in a butchering program, a firearms safety training course, and a food knowledge workshop. Our objectives will be investigated through a sharing circle after the workshop. 

Connaught New Researcher Award: $20,000

Food as a determinant of health

Project lead/Co-lead

  • Harm reduction services used by Indigenous people (Systematic review)

  • Housing as a central element of harm reduction (Literature review)

  • Use of Indigenous knowledge in health research (Scoping review)

  • Disability and cancer screening (Quantitative)

  • Use of Two-Eyed Seeing (Scoping review)

  • Health related quality of life among people living with HIV of African and Indigenous ancestry (Quantitative), $32,400

  • Defining health related quality of life among people living with HIV of African and Indigenous ancestry (Qualitative)

All images were designed by Sylvia M. Benoit.

Contact Information

Department of Health and Society
HL230, Highland Hall


University of Toronto Scarborough

1265 Military Trail

Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1C 1A4

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