Patient-engaged priority setting and mental health data in the syilx-Okanagan Nation

Project Summary

The Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) is a Tribal Council supporting syilx Okanagan communities. ONA has identified mental health as a priority area. While the political and social landscape has been slowly shifting to incorporate culturally relevant and appropriate services, challenges remain because the current western system does not understand and support syilx Okanagan world view of wellness and health.

This study is framed by engagement with syilx Okanagan Nation members and seeks to leverage Indigenous syilx knowledge and approaches to ensure access to meaningful and culturally safe health care for nation members.

captikwł (oral stories) provide instruction on syilx Okanagan natural laws and protocols that need to be followed in order to live in harmony with all creation including oneself. This study reflects discussions nation members had about priorities related to syilx health from engaging with captikwł teachings about syilx Okanagan wellness. Syilx Okanagan participants incorporate lived experiences, including those with mental health, in community decision making about mental health priorities.

The central output will be a greater understanding the significance of local context in Indigenous mental health and patient engagement (PE).

Project Findings

This project has been wonderful for forging strong university-Indigenous (UBC-ONA) relations, and for reaffirming the importance of local Indigenous health knowledge for shaping solutions to Indigenous health.

So far, we have successfully implemented the project to date, using syilx Okanagan knowledge and protocols, including Okanagan approaches to wellbeing, captikwł story work, and traditional stories.

ONA, and by extension the community more broadly, have extended their capacity for academic research, through the training experiences of ONA staff and of two syilx students’ involvement in the project.

At this stage, we are collecting and analyzing data.

We anticipate producing a resource to be used by ONA and the Okanagan communities at large, as well as a publication and conference presentations. These outputs are subject to ongoing revision by our community partners based upon community needs.

This project is part of the Patient Engagement Methods Cluster.


Jennifer Lewis
Raila Dallevoert
Branden Te Hiwi
Jeannette Armstrong
Mike Evans
Kalli Van Stone