Nunavut Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research
NEIHR expands knowledge and capacity to promote wellness among Nunavut’s Indigenous communities through collaboration
Dr. Gwen Healey Akearok, Founder, Executive and Scientific Director, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre
Through Nunavut Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NU NEIHR), Dr. Healey Akearok and the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre set out to build knowledge capacity in Nunavut’s Indigenous communities by promoting pathways to wellbeing through land-based programming, visual and performance arts, Inuit research methods, community-driven ethics, and conversations in international Arctic communities. To achieve these goals, the Centre is collaborating with Aqqiumavvik Society, Ilisaqsivik Society and Ittaq Research Centre, and Qaggiavuut Society for the Performing Arts to investigate health research priorities for Inuit communities, develop an environment of Inuit community leaders in research that will increase awareness, and provide training and support for the next generation of Inuit students and scholars. This unified approach could benefit the mobilization of Indigenous knowledge into action for the wellbeing of Indigenous communities around the world. NU NEIHR hosted a two-day meeting in October 2020 where representatives from all four organizations discussed Inuit philosophical concepts, and collective decision making for activities and collaborations over the next several years. NU NEIHR also developed a webpage, a social media feed, features for community radio, and stories for community newspapers so that Indigenous residents can stay informed of its research developments through various communication channels. Even though COVID-19 struck Nunavut in Spring 2021, each one of the four NU NEIHR collaborative organizations has still been able to move forward with their local, community-based learners and researchers. However, the pandemic has prevented these students from working together in the communities of the collaborative organizations due to travel limitations.
“NU NEIHR is continuing to implement projects and support for students that include Indigenous experience and knowledge,” said Dr. Healey Akearok. “We’re also exploring the benefits of land-based programming, as well as collecting narratives from our Elders that help us understand deep philosophical meanings and approaches to research and wellbeing from a community perspective. As NU NEIHR develops, its governance structure will also expand to include representatives of our four collaborative organizations as well as one student and one Elder.”
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