Family is at the center of our Métis community, so in partnership with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, and McMaster University, we have completed the Ehawawisit (With Child): Maternal and Perinatal Health Outcomes Among the Métis in Alberta and the Influence of Proximal, Intermediate, and Distal Determinants of Health research project.
Ehawawisit, is the Michif word meaning “with child” and for this project, we gathered evidence and knowledge about the unique ways Métis Albertans experience pregnancy and birth. Through an epidemiological analysis of administrative health data, we saw where Métis women and babies experienced different health outcomes compared to non-Métis women and babies. The Ehawawisit project activities were completed in April 2021 and the findings will be complied into two reports and will be shared in summer 2021.
To understand these differences and explore solutions, we brought Métis women together to share their experiences, knowledge, and perspectives on pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. Between November 2018 and September 2019, we held gatherings in each of the six MNA regions: Edmonton, Slave Lake, Lac La Biche, Cold Lake, Calgary, and Fort Vermilion.
The women who participated in the project Gatherings collectively created Trees of Knowledge summarizing the main themes and topics of each discussion as branches on a tree.
We are finalizing three manuscripts based on project findings, which will be submitted to and published in academic journals, as well as distributed to the Métis community.
The findings will inform future supports and services through the Department of Health’s Community Wellness pillar, as well as the MNA Comprehensive Health and Wellness Centre. Understanding the challenges Métis women face during pregnancy and childbirth, and hearing from Métis women themselves, is integral to the creation of comprehensive programs and services rooted in Métis women’s lived experiences.
Lii Zaanfaan (The Children): Understanding the Health and Well-being Trajectories of Métis Children in Alberta is the next research project from our Maternal and Child Health team. Started in April 2020, the Lii Zaanfaan project will deepen our understanding of Métis health and build on knowledge from the maternal and perinatal health research. This project will explore how intergenerational trauma and maternal and perinatal health impact the health and well-being of Métis children.
This project is funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.