Dr. Heather Foulds, University of Saskatchewan
Can you describe your area of research and how it is helping address a health-related issue in Saskatchewan?
My research work partners with Indigenous communities to explore Indigenous-specific health determinants. I have several projects on the go, centering on the importance of Indigenous identity, connections to culture, and cultural activities for health. My current SHRF-funded Establishment Grant explores health benefits of the Métis Red River Jig dance. Understanding unique health determinants and associations experienced by Indigenous Peoples supports positive health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples.
What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?
Partnering with Indigenous Peoples and communities, knowledge sharing and hearing stories from participants are the most rewarding parts of this work. I really value the strength and power of the words, stories and photos shared by participants. Recognizing the themes and experiences of Indigenous Peoples in health and physical activity and identifying the importance of identity and community through multiple qualitative and quantitative projects is a rewarding outcome.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
Some venues are less familiar with Indigenous worldviews and Indigenous experiences. I have faced challenges in my work when engaging with some individuals and organizations who do not have the understanding of differences and uniqueness of specific Indigenous identities and Nations, or who may not understand the reasoning and background behind Indigenous methodologies and processes for conducting research with Indigenous Peoples.
How did you first become interested in this area of research? What inspires you to do the work that you do?
As a Métis scholar, this work resonates with me and I see the value of this work within my community. The mentors and community around me have guided my research direction. Many of the research questions I pursue are brought to me by Indigenous Community Advisors and community members with whom I partner. I am recognizing the impactful outcomes of the research I have conducted to date and am eager to continue along these lines to further understand and support the health of Indigenous communities.
Where is your research headed in the next five years?
I hold a current CIHR Project Grant, which expands on my current SHRF Establishment Grant. I intend to continue along this path of exploring Métis dance, including the stories and symbolism, the importance for the health of our Métis communities and the physical and mental health benefits for individuals. Across my research program, I intend to build on my current work evaluating Indigenous identity and cultural engagement as determinants of health. I plan to pursue additional research and interventions to further this research at the direction of the community partners and participants.
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