Indigenous & Marginalized Communities Research

My research focuses on promoting health equity for disadvantaged and marginalized groups with a particular focus on working with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis.

I recognize that healthcare is founded on systemic settler racism that continues to disenfranchise and marginalize Indigenous Peoples today.

Over the years I have directly witnessed the inequalities systemic racism has created and this has led me to recognize the urgent need for transformative change, which has increasingly situated my research within critical decolonizing methodologies and approaches. 


Developing wise practices for a culturally safe rapid public health response to COVID-19 with Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation

2020 – 2022

This study aims to understand how the Pikwakanagan health team and community responded to the COVID-19 pandemic,
To explore how all four aspects of Indigenous wellness (Physical, Spiritual, Emotional, Mental) and land-based practices and values are integrated into the Pikwàkanagàn COVID-19 responses, and to develop wise practices for integrating Indigenous knowledge & land-based values into public health responses, programs and services during a pandemic.

CIHR grant # 174969

Team: Wendy Gifford, Peggy Dick, William Dick, Veldon Coburn, J Craig Phillips, Thomas Foth, Tram Nguyen, Rebecca Robillard, Maggie Benoit, Brenda Mullin, Kim O’Brien, Marlene Sackaney-Keeling, Danielle Rolfe, Shokoufeh Modanloo, Zeina Al Awar


Adapting a holistic program to support the mental health and wellness of front line workers providing care to homeless and street communities with Ottawa Inner City Health

2020 – 2022

This study aimed to address the intensifying mental health needs of frontline workers serving homeless and street-involved communities during the COVID-19 crisis

We worked collaboratively with the Ottawa Inner City Health to adapt, implement and evaluate mental health supports for frontline care workers in the current and post-COVID-19 pandemic context.

CIHR grant # 173083

Team: Wendy Gifford, Wendy Muckle, Joan Almost, J. Craig Phillips, Marlene Haines, Kim Van Herk, Veldon Coburn, Thomas Foth, Claire McMenemy, Kednapa Thavorn, Amanda Ahmed, Brian Cornelius, Anne Marie Hopkins, Audrey Lusignan, Shokoufeh Modanloo, Danielle Rolfe, Zeina Al Awar.


Building culturally safe cancer survivorship care with Inuit in Inuit Nunangat in partnership with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

2020 – 2025

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada have developed a series of Inuit Cancer Resources to allow nurses, Community Health Representatives, and other health providers to provide culturally safe cancer care and improve health and wellness for Inuit cancer survivors. This 2-phase study aims to implement those resources in 2 communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. Based on the evaluation, we plan to develop a framework for scaling up implementation in all four regions of Inuit Nunangat.

CIHR grant # 169014

Team: Wendy Gifford, Savanah Ashton, Joan Almost, Ian Graham, Linda Juergensen, Kednapa Thavorn, Annie Buchan, Tina Buckle, Peggy Day, Shylah Elliot, Jenn Gordon, Justine Grenier, Sophie Keelan, Nicole Robinson, Tracy Torchetti, Zeina Al Awar


Finding Common Ground: A Knowledge Mobilization plan with Inuit

2021 – 2023

In 2019, the Center for Research on Health and Nursing (CRHN) brought together First Nations, Metis and Inuit stakeholders in our first Finding Common Ground symposium. We are now planning the next Finding Common Ground event in partnership with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada . We will hold a one-day virtual research symposium that will include opening and closing ceremonies, Inuit cultural performances, presentations from researchers and decision makers, student poster presentations, and a networking event for cross-cultural sharing. Objectives of the symposium are to:

  1. convene health and social sciences researchers working with Inuit to share research methodologies, findings and impacts on Inuit communities and quality of life;
  2. inspire and grow health and social science research connections with Inuit and non-Inuit students, researchers, decision makers and knowledge users;
  3. provide a cross cultural sharing experience with opportunities for networking and engaging in critical discussions of health and social science issues with Inuit;
  4. profile the CRHN as an innovative and transformative health and social sciences research center.

Funding received from the University of Ottawa 2020-2021 Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Grant funded by the SSHRC Exchange Grant

Knowledge Mobilization Strategies to Integrate Culturally Safe Care with First Nations People

2021 – 2023

In our previous study, Providing culturally safe cancer survivorship care with Indigenous communities, we partnered with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation to explore culturally safe healthcare practices that support cancer survivorship among First Nations people and communities using a Journey Mapping technique. We developed a 30-minute documentary
film that includes footage from the journey mapping focus groups and interviews.

This Knowledge Mobilization project aims to disseminate the results of the study through holding screening events for the documentary film at the Pikwaknagan community, film festivals, and conferences/workshops hosted by Indigenous advocacy groups or organizations. Additionally, we plan to produce a shorter educational film to submit to healthcare conferences, lecture series, seminars, and symposia aimed at healthcare providers, health researchers, and students.

Funding received from the University of Ottawa 2020-2021 Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) Excellence Award funded by the SSHRC Exchange Grant


Adapting transitions-in-care (TiC) strategies for cancer care to be culturally relevant with Pikwàkanagàn First Nation communities

2019 – 2024

This study builds on our existing partnership with Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, an Algonquin community in Ontario, to implement and evaluate a culturally relevant TiC strategy for community members who have experienced cancer.

We are working collaboratively with a community Advisory Group to adapt and implement a TiC strategy for system navigation for cancer care.

CIHR grant # 163079 and 165594

Team: Wendy Gifford, Peggy Dick, Roanne Thomas, Amanda Vandyk, Ian Graham, Kednapa Thavorn, Ian Graham, Kednapa Thavorn, Linda Juergensen, Danielle Rolfe, Gwen Barton, Maggie Benoit, Zeina Al Awar


Providing culturally safe cancer survivorship care with Indigenous communities: an integrated knowledge translation study

This study had a descriptive participatory mixed methods research design that included:

  • a systematic review to synthesize the evidence on cancer survivorship strategies used by indigenous people around the world
  • a qualitative component to explore culturally safe healthcare practices that support cancer survivorship and barriers and facilitators to culturally safe care among First Nations and Inuit.

We partnered with Tungasuvvingat Inuit and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and held two Focus Groups and semi-structured interviews with cancer survivors, family members and healthcare providers that included traditional craft activities and country food.

We also partnered with Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation Health Services and Family Health Team. We held journey mapping exercises in 2 focus groups and individual interviews with cancer survivors, family members and healthcare providers to explore the community’s experience with cancer care.

All focus groups were videoed and the interviews were audio recorded.

Results have been disseminated at the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in September 2019 and have been accepted for presentation at the Rural Health Equity Conference (May 2020), Indigenous Health Conference (May 2020), Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology Annual Conference (July 2020). Additionally, two articles have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals as a result of this study:

 “Breaking the Silence” to Improve Cancer Survivorship Transitions: A Knowledge Translation Strategy

This study aimed to understand how healthcare practices and community-based programs can address unique cancer survivorship needs and improve outcomes for First Nations people in Canada.

We held several discussions and a research retreat with an Advisory Group of FN Elders, traditional teachers, providers, caregivers, and survivors to determine how to develop and implement survivorship supports that are culturally meaningful practices and address psychosocial survivorship needs.

The meeting was audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed inductively. Based on these results, We created a logic model to guide implementation.

A First Nation’s Cancer Care Journey – Pikwakanaganing taji Anishinàbe Màmiwinini Kijàdigwan Amogowin Pabàmàdiziwin: