Currently available health and wellness assessment tools that use the traditional Indigenous Medicine Wheel teachings are limited in scope and impact.
“The tools appear to be mostly used for substance abuse issues and mental health principles which can perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes,” said Dr. Ann Celestini, assistant professor in the Trent/Fleming School of Nursing (TFSON). “Medicine Wheel teachings offer so much more towards building a truly inclusive and holistic assessment tool that could improve the overall health of all Canadians.”
The recipient of the Office of Research & Innovation’s Strategic Initiatives Research Grant, Professor Celestini is embarking on a novel research project that brings together experts from the TFSON, First Peoples House of Learning (FPHL), and Library Services to investigate expanding the application of Canadian Indigenous Medicine Wheel teachings into nursing health assessment tools.
In the study, Two-Eyed Seeing through Medicine Wheel Teachings: A Holistic Health Assessment Tool, researchers aim to collaboratively develop a culturally safe and appropriate health assessment tool based on traditional Indigenous Medicine Wheel teachings. “We want to develop a tool that can serve as a holistic and inclusive measure of well-being among all Canadian adults,” says Prof. Celestini.
Two lenses, one goal
Working alongside Prof. Celestini are Dr. Amy Hallaran (TFSON), Laraine Hale (FPHL), and Ellen Olsen Lynch (Library Services). They'll be executing the project in four phases—scoping reviews, tool development, tool implementation, and tool evaluation. The first two phases are expected to be completed by December 2024.
Prof. Celestini says the project requires the vital collaborative input of members of the Indigenous communities in sharing Medicine Wheel teachings, knowledge, and engagement as partners throughout the tool development, implementation, and evaluation processes.
The team will be conducting participatory action research (PAR), a qualitative research methodology that will involve ongoing collaboration between the researchers and Indigenous communities to develop a tool that is based on Medicine Wheel teachings and reflects the needs of the members of communities affected by that research.
The title of the research project alludes to the PAR methodological approach being used for this project. “The two-eyed seeing framework is a concept that originated from the work of the Mi'kmaw Elder Albert Marshall of Eskasoni First Nation,” explains Prof. Celestini. "It encourages viewing the strengths and ways of knowing through the lens of Indigenous teachings with one eye and through the lens of Western knowledge with the other eye.”
Dr. Celestini says this project is an amazing opportunity for applied learning in research, as it is seeking to involve both undergraduate nursing students of Indigenous and non-Indigenous backgrounds to complete a scoping review starting September 2023 and participate in other paid research assistant opportunities.