Showcasing Indigenous-led-research

Centre Director Charlotte Waddell gave a virtual talk about a Nuu-chah-nulth-led study on healthy child development to the child health advisory board at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on April 10.

The talk was titled, “Everything is One, Everything is Connected.”

Waddell presented together with SFU scholar Pablo Nepomnaschy, on behalf of Lynnette Lucas and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council team, the study leads.

The presentation described a multi-generational study being conducted by and within the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, whose ancestral lands are located on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

“As non-Indigenous research allies,” Waddell said, “team members from SFU are helping to merge the best of Indigenous and ‘Western’ science while upholding high ethical standards including ensuring Indigenous data sovereignty.”

“This study will be ‘the Framingham’ of Indigenous Peoples,” Waddell added, quoting Indigenous scholar Jeff Reading, who is co-leading the Nuu-chah-nulth project. Framingham refers to a famous long-term cardiovascular health study that began in 1948 and is now on its third generation of participants, helping to improve population wellbeing.

Funding and community consultations for the Nuu-chah-nulth project began in 2017 and continued in 2022 with a grant of $15 million over six years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, in partnership with Alberta First Nations.

“Everything we do,” Waddell said, “involves constant reciprocity and respect for Indigenous Knowledge and wishes.

“We are working to overcome some of the harmful legacies of colonialism by supporting Indigenous leadership of research that is by and about them, as one step towards truth and reconciliation.”

Why we need to do a better job of serving children who are neurodiverse

Centre Director Charlotte Waddell gave a Zoom talk to close to 300 parents, practitioners and policy makers on Dec. 2. The talk was titled, “Neurodiversity and mental health: Serving children better.”

The presentation covered the following themes:

  • The need to create communities where all children are welcomed and celebrated, and where services are delivered according to needs so that all children can flourish and meet their potential.
  • The prevalence of anxiety, ADHD, behaviour disorders and depression, which are higher for children experiencing three particular forms of neurodiversity (autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder and intellectual disability).
  • The research evidence for effective treatments for these four conditions for children with the three forms of neurodiversity.
  • The effective treatments for other common childhood mental disorders that can also be offered, with adaptations when needed

“We need to ensure that timely and effective treatments are offered to all children, particularly if they are neurodiverse, given higher prevalence rates,” Waddell told the group.

The talk ended with celebrating people who are neurodiverse, and the communities that support them over the lifespan.

Waddell then stayed on the Zoom call to respond to questions and comments. She also joined a small breakout group discussion to learn more about parent’s perspectives.

A recording of the talk can be seen here.