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OUR WORK

Broadly, the AMP Lab is focused on community-led research that aims to improve cultural safety in academia and in the workplace, to integrate land-based Indigenous learning methodologies into core curricula, and to improve current public health conditions for Indigenous communities in Canada.

OUR GOALS

The research in the AMP Lab relies heavily on relationships with Indigenous peoples, communities and organizations, who propose ideas for future research areas. Dr. Mashford-Pringle’s research interests lie in addressing the profound health and education disparities for Indigenous peoples, which has been demonstrated to be connected to culture continuity that will improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people (Mashford-Pringle, 2016). Using Indigenous research methodologies, I explore how culture, language and identity of Indigenous peoples is connected to outcomes for their health and education in collaboration with diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, communities, and organizations.

Using the Medicine Wheel as a Theory, Evaluation Tool, Data Analysis Tool and Way of Being, the figure below shows select traditional teachings in the outer boxes and the research of the AMP Lab in the four directions.

There are three streams of research that I intend to work on for the next five years:

Cultural Safety

Cultural safety training  for a wide variety of professions to eliminate racism in institutional structures;

Impacts of Incarceration

Speaking with previously incarcerated Indigenous peoples to influence programs and services offered in and out of prisons;

Connection to First Nations Culture

Privileging and uplifting First Nations cultures, languages, and environmental stewardship through research on food systems, land-based learning and engaging Elders and Knowledge Keepers to document in Indigenous ways of being and knowing while protecting sacred knowledges.

 

 

 

I have secured grant funding for each of these three streams with the overall objectives for the streams as:

  1. Advance Indigenous health theories, methodologies and policies;

  2. Train the next generation of Indigenous health researchers, policy makers, and advocates;

  3. Decolonize the academy through cultural safety training; and

  4. Convene leading scholars in one or all of my research streams to produce an edited collection and other culturally relevant knowledge translation products.

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OUR PROJECTS

New Respect Cultural Safety Program:

Oshki M'naadendimowin

Cultural safety (CS) is a growing field that aims to improve the relations between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people. This project will identify the best ways to use online platforms to deliver effective, Indigenous-led cultural safety content to professionals and students in the fields of health, education, and social services using Indigenous research methods.

This project is under development with an anticipated pilot testing session in Winter 2022.

Funded by Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) Skills Consortium

Kijibashik

Stories of Previously Incarcerated Indigenous Mothers

Kijibashik is a SSHRC-funded project led by a team of community members, students, advocates, and academics who want to eliminate the over-representation of Indigenous women and girls in Canadian prison systems. By speaking to formerly incarcerated Indigenous mothers or mother-figures, we aim to inform new programs, policies, and services to support these women and their children and break the cycle of incarceration.

Funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council: Insight Grant

Collaborators: Dr. Jerry Flores, Dr. Karen Lawford, Dr. Flora Matheson, Tenzin Butsang

Community Partners: Aboriginal Legal Services, Native Women's Resource Centre of Toronto, Elizabeth Fry of Toronto, PASAN

Establishing an Indigenous Guidance Council on Healing and Interconnectedness for Previously Incarcerated Indigenous Women, Men, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People

Kijibashik Engaging in Early Partnerships II

This project aims to take an action-oriented, community-based approach to understanding the perspectives of previously incarcerated Indigenous women, men, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, as well as service providers at Indigenous and criminal justice advocacy organizations. Using Indigenous research methods, this project will establish an Ontario-wide Indigenous guidance council to inform the design and delivery of research activities to ensure balanced power dynamics, increased trust, and a sense of project ownership. To facilitate reciprocal relationships and rapport building, care packages that were created with community input will be given to partners to distribute to previously incarcerated clients. Additionally, we will conduct one-on-one interviews with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous criminal justice-related service providers as well as individuals with experiences with incarceration who have used healing or re-entry programs since their release to gain knowledge about interconnectedness of incarceration, gender, family relations, and reintegration into their community(s). This will be done with an intersectional lens that incorporates the Medicine Wheel teachings and accompanying knowledge from an Algonquin perspective (PI and Elders contributing). We are interested in learning if there are differences in gender and family-inclusive policies for those who were previously incarcerated and how to assist with reintegration and healing after their release.

Funded by Canadian Institute for Health Research: Indigenous Gender and Wellness Team Grant

Community Partners: Aboriginal Legal Services, Native Land Digital, PASAN, Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society

Waaneziyenhwiininoodjimoowayin (The Path That Is Taken To Heal Together):

Indigenous Parents' Stories of the Child Welfare System

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) refers to inequities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in child welfare systems as a “growing crisis”. Enhanced understanding of the lived experiences of Indigenous parents and caregivers’ interactions with the child welfare system in Canada contributes to a gap in the literature and is a step towards truth, reconciliation, and healing.

With our community partners, we aim to
(1) examine the experiences of Indigenous parents and caregivers who have had contact with any child welfare systems including the mental, spiritual, physical, and relational implications;
(2) analyze the intersection of social determinants, being Indigenous, and parent-children relationships; (3) strategically share the unique needs and challenges for policy and practice implications through manuscripts, briefs, and webinars.

Grounded in Indigenous methodology valuing respect and reciprocity, we will use semi-structured interviews (kitchen table talks) with 20 Indigenous parents or caregivers. Thematic analysis guided by Medicine Wheel teachings will be used to interpret the data. By creating space for Indigenous voices throughout the project, self-determination is asserted in research and data management. Accessible education resources such as articles, policy briefs, and videos will inform policymakers and practitioners to improve social conditions impacting Indigenous families.

Funded by Edwin S.H. Leong Centre for Healthy Children: Leong Centre Catalyst Grant.

Community Partner: Aboriginal Legal Services

Decolonizing Indigenous Food Systems:

Building Partnerships for Sustainable and Equitable Food Systems in Canada and Kenya

Indigenous food systems and food sovereignty have been disrupted, and in some places, eradicated through the “development” and exploitation of land and resources. Indigenous peoples have struggled to stop the destruction of their lands, waters, plants, animals, insects, birds, fish and trees – grounded in the All in Creation principle. To amplify and elevate Indigenous voices and knowledges, the overall goal of this project is to build authentic and reciprocal relationships among researchers, Indigenous peoples, and community organizations in Canada and Kenya for the benefit of Indigenous food systems, and ultimately, reclaiming food sovereignty. Through reciprocal relationships, we will discuss wise practices, current and systemic issues affecting Indigenous food systems, and Indigenous ways of knowing about traditional and modern food systems and food sovereignty affecting both countries.

Collaborators: Dr. Erica Di Ruggerio, Dr. Paula Braitstein​

Mamwi Gidaanjitoomin:

Together We Change It

The goal of this Indigenous-led initiative is to address homelessness in the general population while privileging Indigenous Knowledges. This project will provide low-barrier winter respite to those experiencing homelessness in urban settings while increasing awareness of traditional Indigenous structures.

The four aspects of the project outlined below provide unique opportunities for Indigenous peoples, cultural continuity, people experiencing homelessness, and the general public. There are 4 aspects of this project: (1) Perpetuation of Indigenous Knowledges; (2) Shelter; (3) Service provision; (4) Shelter deconstruction and garden creation.

Note: This project is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government — Universities' Agreements for First Nations Health Care Services 1960-1990 Health Care Services

This project will provide insight into the impacts of historical contracts between the Government of Canada and universities on First Nations health outcomes.

​The goals of the project are to:

(1) Explore cross-institutional contracts for knowledge of the design and patient/physician interactions of health care services in First Nations health care zones.
(2) Identify the nature of patient/physician interactions.
(3) Discover the relationship between Government—University contracts and present-day health outcomes and health care policies.
(4) Inform policies, practices, and interventions to address the longstanding history of systemic racism within the medical education systems and Government.

Assessing Mental Health and Substance Use Needs and Service Disruptions for People Released from Custody During COVID-19

People who are released from correctional facilities face significant mental health and addiction challenges – in addition to poverty, homelessness, poor physical health and discrimination – as they return to the community. These issues have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, as resources have been more difficult to access, and Indigenous, Black and 2SLGBTQ+ persons have been particularly affected as they are over-represented in the prison system. Through qualitative interviews, this study will examine the challenges related to mental health and substance use for people released from custody during the pandemic.

Within Ontario, we will explore how this population is adapting to disruptions to mental health and addiction services and how service agencies are adapting their practices to support the population despite physical distancing and other public health safety measures. We will conduct a rapid evaluation of service disruptions/adaptations and releasees’ needs and responses to service changes, followed by in-depth qualitative analysis.

The study is a collaboration between researchers, community service providers and knowledge users who support people released from incarceration. The findings will inform government responses to pandemics to ensure people who have incarceration histories are adequately supported. In addition, the findings will document innovative adaptations in the mental health and addiction sectors that can inform present and future pandemic plans, preparations and responses to better address the needs of this population.

This project has 3 goals:

(1) Needs assessment. Assess mental health and substance use (MHSU) needs among people released from correctional facilities during the pandemic.
(2) Understanding releasees' service use. Examine releasees’ responses to the new and shifting service environment, as reflected in patterns of service access, experience and avoidance.
(3) Identifying service disruptions and adaptations. Evaluate the disruptions, adaptations and innovations in MHSU services among community agencies that support releasees’ reentry and care
(4) Recommendations. Provide real-time, evidence-based agency- and system-level recommendations to achieve more efficient and equitable matching of mental health and substance use responses with the needs of this population as the pandemic continues, when new waves emerge and during future health crises.


Principal Investigator: Dr. Flora Matheson

STUDENT-LED PROJECTS

The Turtle Island Journal of Indigenous Health (TIJIH)

The Turtle Island Journal of Indigenous Health (TIJIH) was founded in 2019 by graduate students at the University of Toronto. It is a collaborative project run by an expanding network of graduate students, community members, and Knowledge Keepers from across Turtle Island. The Journal and accompanying Community of Practice (CoP) are currently supported by the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.

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