The Decolonizing Birth Research project aims to explore the experiences of Indigenous families during pregnancy and childbirth, using participatory methods and measures that reflect the values and needs of the communities. The main objectives are:
We are working with six communities (Okanagan, Haida Gwaii, Vancouver, Seabird Island, Port Hardy, and Cross Lake, Manitoba), in partnership with Community Leads who:
Community members have been active participants and have been involved in defining research questions, methods of engagement, and interpretation of results. Through a patient-oriented approach, we were able to recognize and incorporate Indigenous methods and multiple ways of collecting information such as through talking circles, storytelling/journaling, online surveys, and individual interviews with the community leads, and/or trusted community leaders and Elders.
As a result, project results are more reflective, relevant and useful to specific community needs and priorities.
Our project showed that, to Decolonize Birth Research, researchers must plan for and respond to the three R’s: respect, reciprocity, and relationships.
In our project, to show respect, the research team acknowledged and recognized the Community’s priorities for learning and knowledge sharing. We decided to modify ways to conduct the research and change timelines in favor of urgent community needs, exercise patience, trust and accept that the work will get done when the Community is ready, not when the researcher needs it to be done.
Our work was reciprocal, in that we saw each Community Lead as the expert in the research process, while the PIs and research units provided the technical tools and information. We created a process and structure for the research plan for communities to define priorities and research objectives within a larger umbrella of “ways to measure experiences of respectful maternity care”.
Our relationships to each other, the Community Leads, and the communities were critical to the progression of this work. We learned that conducting research in good ways in Indigenous communities, with both Indigenous and settler researchers, means to center relational principles, such as humility, critical reflection, willingness to put aside our agendas; and engage in communication that is genuine, authentic, and transparent.
As a result, participants were able to identify measures and metrics that elicit their lived experience. Participants chose ways to share that did not re-traumatize, and prioritized measures that describe strengths-based models of care, including Indigenous midwives, doulas, and birth on sovereign lands.
We expect that, by the end of March 2022:
Dr. Rachel Olson, Co-PI
Dr. Wanda Phillips-Beck, Co-PI
Elder Roberta Price
Dr. Saraswathi Vedam, Co-PI
Rayann Big Plume Harris
If you’re in a rush, check out these snack-size highlights:
How patient partners informed the Delphi process
Patient engagement as empowerment
Respectful engagement means flexibility
Watch the full webinar: