USask College of Medicine researcher Dr. Gary Groot (MD, PhD).
USask College of Medicine researcher Dr. Gary Groot (MD, PhD). (Photo: Submitted)

Federal funding invested in research that will build cancer prevention tools rooted in Métis culture

A University of Saskatchewan (USask) researcher has been awarded more than $175,000 from three major funding bodies to support a project that seeks to lower cancer rates of Métis peoples by using cultural connection as a prevention tool.

Previous research has identified that the Métis population in Canada is a high-risk and underserved group when it comes to incidences of cancer and prevention efforts. The newly funded project will aim to reduce these incidence rates by creating prevention programs rooted in the home community.

“The big question is to understand how Saskatchewan Métis communities can strengthen their connection to culture as a way to improve health and prevent cancer from happening in the first place,” said Dr. Gary Groot (MD, PhD), a USask College of Medicine professor in the Departments of Community Health and Epidemiology and Surgery, and leader of the project.

The project was awarded $100,000 from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, $50,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and $25,060 from the Canadian Cancer Society through the Action grant program to pursue this work.

The team consists of researchers from USask, the University of Regina, and First Nations University as well as partners from Métis Nation Saskatchewan. The research team plans to hold interviews and have important conversations with Métis Elders, traditional Knowledge Keepers and community members to understand the role culture plays in the lives of Métis peoples, and the knowledge and actions drawn from traditional ways of knowing and being that are integral to the building of such culture.

The project focuses on how cultural connectivity plays a role in being both mentally and physically healthy, such as by encouraging socialization, healthy eating, physical activity and other behaviours that lead to lower risk of cancer. The team hopes to develop a cultural health framework that can be applied in other Métis communities in Canada to provide equitable access to primary cancer prevention.

This project, co-designed by Métis Nation Saskatchewan, patient partners, and our research team, focuses on the strengths inherent in Saskatchewan Métis communities,” said Groot.

“We plan to use the learnings from our research to create a ‘road map’ of how this one Métis community successfully strengthened their connection to culture that can be shared with other communities.”

Other USask researchers involved in the project include Dr. Allyson Stevenson (PhD) from the USask College of Arts and Science and Dr. Tracey Carr (PhD) from the USask College of Medicine.

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