Thompson Rivers University

Public invited to provide input at roundtable: understanding dementia in Indigenous communities

June 27, 2013

Thompson Rivers University will host a free community event, Being accountable to communities: Dementia research with Indigenous peoples, on July 4.

The need to understand the way dementia is experienced in Indigenous communities is the impetus behind several projects spearheaded by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from TRU and Interior Health Authority. The researchers have worked collaboratively with First Nations Elders to understand the impact of dementia in Secwepemc communities and to teach nurses ways to provide culturally-safe dementia care for Secwepemc Elders.

Among the outcomes of this research was the production of a children’s book and a video for teenagers. Both will officially be launched during the public portion on July 4 from 6:45pm to 9pm in the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Centre.

A Good Day with Grandma (Kyé7e) and Me, is a book, intended for children at a Grade 3 to 6 reading level, was written to help children in First Nations communities understand dementia within the context of their culture. A companion video project, Remembering our way forward: Dementia from a Secwepemc perspective, was produced for teenagers in First Nations communities.

The public is invited to attend and join the dialogue. Panelists will include local Elders and researchers and invited guests from Saskatchewan (researcher), Oklahoma (researcher), Ontario (PhD student), and Alaska (Inupiat Elder). Refreshments will be served at 6:45 and the event will start at 7.

A Good Day with Grandma (Kyé7e) and Me, written and illustrated by Karlene Harvey, and Remembering our way forward: Dementia from a Secwepemc perspective, by filmmaker Trevor Mack, draw on themes identified through roundtable discussions and individual interviews conducted in Secwepemc communities. Dr. Wendy Hulko of Thompson Rivers University’s Faculty of Human, Social and Educational Development explains that while there are some existing books and videos for children and teens that address the topic of dementia, it was important to create materials that spoke specifically to children in First Nations communities.

Being accountable to communities: Dementia research with Indigenous peoples is planned as part of a two-day forum, the Indigeneity and Dementia Roundtable, which brings together members of the International Indigenous Dementia Research Network (IIDRN), Culturally Safe Dementia Care (CSDC) researchers, and Elder advisors. Participants will share findings on memory loss and memory care for Aboriginal people and discuss possibilities for future collaborations. Hulko planned the roundtable forum with Tracy Christianson of Thompson Rivers University’s School of Nursing and Danielle Wilson of Interior Health – Aboriginal Health. Christianson was the CSDC research manager and Wilson is the CSDC practitioner co-lead.

Hulko and Christianson received a $25,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health to host the roundtable forum. Researchers, practioners, students, and Elders attending, and others from as far away as New Zealand, will be contributing chapters to a book Hulko and Wilson are planning to produce on the topic of indigeneity and dementia.

Dr. Wendy Hulko,
Thompson Rivers University