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NCCIH

Webinar - Past, Present, and Future: The Story of a Northern Ontario First Nations Health Data Partnership

October 2022

Overview

In 2016, several First Nations health service organizations in northern Ontario came together to address a shared challenge: a lack of high-quality, community-specific health data that they needed to make evidence-informed decisions. This led to the formation of Mamow Ahyamowen (Everyone’s Voices), an epidemiology partnership of 11 First Nations organizations collectively serving 78 communities across the region. Building on the foundational work of the Chiefs of Ontario and ICES, Mamow Ahyamowen used health administrative data to better understand the mortality experiences of its communities in 2019. Since then, the Partnership has prioritized meaningful knowledge translation and capacity-strengthening activities to share findings in ways that support Partners and communities.

This webinar will tell the story of Mamow Ahyamowen through lenses of self-determination and Indigenous Data Sovereignty. Participants will hear from presenters who hold various roles in the Partnership, including Loretta Loon (Steering Committee Member for the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority), Dr. Jennifer Walker (Epidemiologist, Health Services Researcher & Advisor), and Maureen Gustafson (Knowledge Translation Specialist). Together they will provide an overview of the Partnership’s history, work to date, and path forward.

Speakers

Loretta Loon is Eeyou and Inninew Cree. and a band member of Fort Albany First Nation, and a member of MoCreebec Eeyoud in Moose Factory, Ontario. She is a PhD Candidate at York University in Education since 2016 within the Language, Culture and Teaching degree program in which her thesis is entitled, “Stealing Across Time: Indigenous Eeyou Istchee as Autochthonous and Aspects of Decolonization.” Loretta is Associate Vice President – Culture, Healing and Well-Being at the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) since April 2022 and prior to this, she was Director of Minomathasowin Public Health at WAHA since 2020 and continues as Co-Chair of the WAHA Research and Ethics Committee.

Since 1993, she has worked in community development and administration in James Bay, supporting the advancement of Cree communities. Having worked within health policy and the post secondary education sectors over the years, Loretta has taught and developed Indigenous-focused and decolonizing curriculum at a number of universities including Algoma, York, Brock, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) as an Assistant Professor (2020-2021) in the School of Child and Youth Care as well as a Faculty Lecturer within the School of Continuing Studies at McGill University during the 2019-2020 academic year.

In addition, Loretta has worked as a Health Policy Analyst for Noojimawin Health Authority in Toronto for many years while attaining the completion of her post-secondary education: Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree in International Development Studies at York University attained in 2010; a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) degree in Indigenous Adult Education at Brock University attained in 2012; a Masters Certificate in Project Management from the Schulich School of Business – Executive Education Centre attained in 2014; and a Masters of Education (M.Ed) degree specializing in Indigenous Education at York University attained in 2016. Loretta enjoys spending her time outside and at home in James Bay with her children Meridian and Amelia.

Dr. Jennifer Walker is a Haudenosaunee member of Six Nations of the Grand River with a Ph.D. in Community Health Sciences (Epidemiology) from the University of Calgary. Dr. Walker’s work focuses largely on Indigenous community-engaged health research using large health services databases through her work as a Core Scientist and Indigenous Health Lead at ICES in Ontario and through the Health Data Research Network Canada.

Dr. Walker has an active community-engaged research program in aging and dementia at McMaster University, where she is Associate Professor, Health Research Methods, and Impact. Conjointly, her program prioritizes the ongoing effort to enhance the health knowledge translation process to better ensure the development of relevant and appropriate health policy, programs, and services accessed by Indigenous Peoples. Dr. Walker co-leads the SPOR Evidence Alliance Indigenous Peoples Working Group (IPWG), whose mission is to ensure all knowledge synthesis and related activities promote Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination and are respectful and inclusive of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, being, and doing.

Maureen Gustafsonis Anishinaabekwe of mixed Ojibwe and settler heritage. A member of Couchiching First Nation, she grew up nearby in Fort Frances, Ontario. She is a loving auntie, sister, daughter, cousin, and friend.

Maureen obtained a Master of Public Health with specializations in Health Promotion and Indigenous Health from the University of Toronto in 2019. Her work is also informed by professional experience at Indigenous-led research institutes in both Canada and Australia, as well as health and social service providers in northwestern Ontario. She is privileged to support Mamow Ahyamowen as the Knowledge Translation & Exchange Specialist.

Learning Objectives

  • Explore Mamow Ahyamowen’s work as an example of First Nations leadership in Indigenous Data Sovereignty;
  • Highlight the variation in mortality-related health inequities experienced by First Nations communities in northern Ontario; and,
  • Recognize the importance of meaningful knowledge translation in supporting self-determination.

Suggested Reading

Mamow Ahyamowen. (2020). Learning from Our Ancestors: Mortality Experience of First Nations in Northern Ontario - March 2020 (PDF).

Mamow Ahyamowen. (2020). Learning from Our Ancestors: Mortality Experience of First Nations in Northern Ontario - February 2020 - Companion Report (PDF).

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