Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Building Healthy Mi'kmaq Communities in Prince Edward Island

Academic journal article The Canadian Journal of Native Studies

Building Healthy Mi'kmaq Communities in Prince Edward Island

Article excerpt

Abstract / Résumé

This study is important as there has been little research undertaken with the Mi'kmaq communities of Prince Edward Island. The purpose was to focus on two determinants of health: childhood development and personal health practices and coping. Unique features of this study are the inclusion of children as informants, the use of a multi-disciplinary team, and the active involvement of the Mi'kmaq community in all stages of the project. The study population included all Aboriginal children between the ages of O to 18 years and their parents, and pregnant women from the Lennox Island and Abegweit communities. Interviews (108) were conducted including two key informants and four case studies. Research findings have emerged in the form of descriptions of children's and youths' perceptions of health, and of their own health behaviours.

L'article traite d'une étude importante, car il s'agit d'une des premières études sur les collectivités micmaques de l'île-du-Prince-Édouard. Elle avait pour objectif l'examen de deux déterminants de la santé, le développement des enfants et l'hygiène de vie, accompagnée de la réponse du sujet face aux stresseurs. L'étude est unique en raison de l'intégration des enfants à titre de répondants, du recrutement d'une équipe multidisciplinaire et de la participation active des Micmacs à toutes les étapes du projet. La population étudiée comptait tous les enfants autochtones âgés de 18 ans et moins et leurs parents, ainsi que les femmes enceintes, des collectivités de Lexxox Island et d'Abegweit. On a interrogé 108 personnes, y compris deux répondants clés, et mené quatre études de cas. Les résultats de la recherche prennent la forme d'une description des images de la santé perçues par les enfants et les jeunes et de leurs propres comportements liés à la santé.

Introduction

In the past several years there has been a renewed interest in the health of Canadians with a particular focus on the health of Canadian children (Federal, Provincial, & Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health, 1999; Federal Provincial Territorial Council on Social Policy Renewal, 1999a & 1999b). While the majority of children in Canada are healthy, certain groups, like the children of Canada's Aboriginal people are considered more vulnerable. According to the Canadian Institute on Child Health (CICH, 2000), "the general health status of Canada's Aboriginal population ranks below the national standards for all other populations" (p. 145). Approximately 50% of Aboriginal children, both on and off reserve, live in poverty (National Forum on Health, 1997). The prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer is higher in the Aboriginal population than in the general population and appears to be increasing (Federal, Provincial, & Territorial Advisory Committee on Population Health, 1999). While statistics regarding the health status of Aboriginal populations are discouraging, more comprehensive information about Aboriginal health factors are needed to facilitate appropriate planning and policy decisions. Current statistics regarding Aboriginal health reinforce the importance and urgency of identifying culturally appropriate ways to improve the health and well-being of this population.

During the past decade there have been several health surveys involving the Aboriginal people in Canada. In many of these studies, the Aboriginal population on Prince Edward Island has not been adequately represented. Given the lack of information regarding the health status of this population, the Abegweit and Lennox Island First Nations began a collaboration with the University of Prince Edward Island's (UPEI) Faculty of Education, School of Nursing and Department of Family and Nutritional Sciences to gain a more comprehensive profile of perceptions, health behaviours, and needs of Aboriginal children living on reserve in both of these Island communities. …

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