In 2013, WAHRS began to work with the Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI), part of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, on a community-led research project funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. The research investigated Aboriginal peoples’ experiences with:
- Accessing addictions treatment
- Accessing healthcare
All participants were members of WAHRS. The project is special because WAHRS Board Members decided the research questions, collected the data, analyzed the results, and developed recommendations for change, with background help from the UHRI. In other words, it was ground-breaking because WAHRS became the researchers, and were able to do the research in a good way that respected Indigenous ways of knowing.
Since WAHRS had never done research before, the Board went to Galiano Island in 2013 with Dr. Thomas Kerr to figure out how WAHRS was going to do research.
How we did the research
WAHRS used talking circles to gather data about our peers’ experiences with each different topic. As Aboriginals, talking circles are very sacred, so this was a culturally respectful way to do the research. The talking circles were led by other Aboriginal people who use illicit drugs and/or illicit alcohol, so people were able to pour out their hearts in the circles.
After the circles, WAHRS worked alongside staff from the UHRI to analyze themes from the circles, and identify recommendations for meaningful change in the community.
Now, with generous support from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, WAHRS is busy telling people about their research and recommendations. WAHRS has presented to healthcare providers, policy makers, researchers, community members, and more. Some people call this ‘Knowledge Translation’, but WAHRS decided to call it ‘Cultural Sharing in Research’, because it better represents what we’re doing.
Want to learn more?
If you’re interested in hearing more about our research, we would love to present to you or invite you to come to the VANDU space to meet our members. Please contact us to set up a presentation.