Appropriate Engagement and Nutrition Education on Reserve: Lessons Learned from the Takla Lake First Nation in Northern BC

// // Posted in Vol 6 Issue 1

Pamela Tobin, M.A., University of British Columbia, Research Associate, BC
Leadership Chair in Aboriginal Environmental Health UNBC

Margo French (aka Sumkoltz), Takla First Nation

Neil Hanlon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Geography Program, University of
Northern British Columbia

ABSTRACT

Concerns about living conditions on First Nations1 reserves are attracting a great deal ofattention from public health practitioners and researchers looking to design and implement measures to improve and promote health. Issues related to geographic isolation, low socioeconomic status, and threats to traditional practices are known to contribute to poor health outcomes, especially amongst Aboriginal youth. Research and educational programs are needed to address these challenges yet even the most state-of-the art initiatives are destined to fail if they are perceived to be disrespectful of, and insensitive to, local First Nations’ culture and ways of knowing. Inspired by Smith’s call for decolonized methodologies, we develop the concept of appropriate engagement as a framework for working with First Nations. A case study of research and a nutrition program conducted in Takla Landing, British Columbia are presented to offer an outline of appropriate engagement and how it can be used to better inform public health initiatives aimed at improving the dietary practices of First Nations populations.

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