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Research Profiles – Two-Eyed Seeing: Bringing Aboriginal Perspectives to Health Research

Your health is about more than just the notes on your medical records. The strength of your community, your connection to your past and your culture, and the health of the environment around you can all affect your well-being. But traditional research methods sometimes fail to capture these broader measures of health.

Across Canada, researchers and Aboriginal communities are beginning to work together in a new research model known as “two-eyed seeing”. This approach combines the strengths of both traditional scientific methods and Aboriginal ways of understanding health. Together, these teams are hoping to create a more collaborative and comprehensive way to study health issues. In the process, Aboriginal people are reconnecting with their culture and feeling a greater sense of ownership and involvement in the research going on in their communities.

This month, we’re profiling CIHR-funded projects that examine health through the lens of Aboriginal culture and tradition.

  • The Power of Equal Partnership: Researchers at Dalhousie University and members of a Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq community are collaborating to assess the health and environmental impacts of a local paper mill.
  • Recapturing your Voice: With the help of researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, teens of the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation are using photography and traditional Aboriginal art forms to illustrate their definition of health.
  • Cultural Recovery: Dr. Colleen Varcoe at the University of British Columbia is working with Aboriginal Elders to develop a domestic violence intervention that addresses social and cultural concerns.

A mural by young residents of the Standing Buffalo Dakota First Nation reserve in Saskatchewan.