Dr. Carrie Bourassa | Protecting Our Home Fires Strategy as a Driver for Self-Determination

Dr. Carrie Bourassa | Protecting Our Home Fires Strategy as a Driver for Self-Determination

COVID-19 has laid bare to the world what most Indigenous Peoples have already known since colonial influence. Racism, oppression, historical legacies and government polices continue to perpetuate the ongoing state of Indigenous Peoples‘ health inequities in many Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples carry an inordinate burden of health issues and suffer the worst health of any group in Canada. Beyond that, Indigenous Peoples experience the poorest living conditions, inequitable access to education, food, employment and healthcare/health services in a country that reliably ranks in the top ten on the United Nations human development index. Inequitable access leads to the worst health outcomes but most importantly racism has been identified as the major factor in creating and reinforcing these disparities. This racism is rooted in colonial history and the processes that have – and continue to – disconnect Indigenous communities from their lands, languages, and cultures. This pattern is similar in other colonized countries including the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, India and many other countries.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa's presentation focused on the concept of cultural safety, how it can address the impacts of colonization, intergenerational trauma and the burden of health issues that Indigenous Peoples carry. Moreover, Dr. Bourassa provided a concrete example of cultural safety that has been mobilized at the direction of the communities we serve – the Protecting Our Home Fires strategy. This model is rooted in self-determination, strengths based, community driven priorities and incorporates the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) – this despite the fact systemic racism is invariably the leading cause of ill-health for Indigenous Peoples globally.

Dr. Carrie Bourassa, B.A., M.A., PhD is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (CIHR-IIPH) and a Professor, Community Health & Epidemiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan. She is an adjunct Professor in the Faculties of Education and Kinesiology & Health Studies at the University of Regina and is the Nominated Principal Investigator for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) funded Morning Star Lodge established in 2010, as well as for the recently CFI-funded Cultural Safety, Evaluation, Training and Research lab that will be built by the summer of 2021, hosted at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. Dr. Bourassa has nearly 20 years’ experience as a professor in the field of Indigenous health studies across four different Universities. Through her role as Scientific Director of IIPH, she leads the advancement of a national health research agenda to improve and promote the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Canada. Dr. Bourassa has been recently appointed (2020) as the Indigenous engagement lead for the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force and the Indigenous lead for the Rapid Response team, Saskatchewan Health Authority. Dr. Bourassa is Métis and belongs to the Riel Métis Council of Regina Inc. (RMCR, Local #34).

Sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute and the Native American Student Alliance at Duke University.

Thumbnail using image created by Pascal Bernardon on Unsplash.