Study to determine supports needed for Indigenous fathers

One of the first studies of its kind is looking to determine what supports Indigenous men need in their new roles as fathers.

Services for Indigenous fathers are lacking, Six Nations Elected Council heard during a presentation last week from nursing professor Amy Wright from the University of Toronto.

In collaboration with the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle and Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, local health care workers will develop and undertake the study to design programs that will serve new Indigenous fathers.

Wright sought approval from council’s ethics committee to undertake the study that will recruit study participants from Six Nations.

Wright said health care workers noticed an absence of support for new Indigenous fathers during an Indigenous mom and baby study in the city of Hamilton.

“There’s definitely a significant gap,” she said.

The first phase of the study will involve interviews with Indigenous fathers, two spirit parents and service providers looking to understand their experiences and their strengths and needs and that study will inform developing a parenting program to meet their needs.

Phase two will see community engagement and workshops, and the design of the program, and phase three will see the implementation of the pilot program.

She said the study will be conducted under the First Nations Mental Wellness Continuum Model – a framework that has 10 components with culture a central component of the wellness continuum model.

It’s a holistic approach to wellness that focuses on physical behaviour, spiritual behaviour, mental behaviour and emotional behaviour of Indigenous people, the indigenous way of viewing health.

“Our interview guide is really informed by this model to make sure that we’re as holistic as possible,” said Wright.

The research questions will include: how do men/two spirit people experience their journey to becoming fathers, what needs do fathers have along their journey and what resources do they use or want to meet their needs, and how do two spirit people and men envision a program that will meet their needs as fathers?

The study design recognizes that people experience life in different ways according to culture, environment, conflict, finances and other determinants of health, according to the factors around them. They will conduct interviews with 30 fathers and 15 service providers, then develop the program.

Once the program is up and running they would get feedback on it.

The study will respect the privacy of participants and the information will be held at the Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic.

Study participants will be compensated for their time.

The Six Nations Birthing Centre and Six Nations Health Services are excited for the results, she said.

“It will benefit the men in the community to meet a need that has a lack of service,” she said.

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