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March 21 - The Indigenous Healthy Built and Social Environment: A Framework to Address Health Disparities of Indigenous Peoples

Pepper Pritty, who is a PhD student at the University of Manitoba studying Indigenous built and social environments, and is also the director of Green Action Centre and a Program Coordinator at the University of Manitoba, presented her work on developing an Indigenous healthy built and social environment framework. 

The Indigenous Healthy Built and Social Environment: A Framework to Address Health Disparities of Indigenous Peoples

For over a century, through the advancement and investment into the colonial built environment, Canada has progressed and achieved status as one of the greatest developed countries in the world. Meanwhile, the development of Indigenous communities have been neglected with health and living conditions comparable to developing countries. Communities built according to influence of settlers, lack insight into culture, spirit, and traditional ways of living that are pertinent to Indigenous people. While many agree what constitutes the core areas of a built environment, studies have focused on non-Indigenous communities. There is a gap in the literature from the perspectives of Indigenous peoples whether the current Healthy Built Environment Framework is structurally and culturally applicable for Indigenous communities and how disparities in the built environment affect communities.

This study identified relevant core pillars of the built environment for community functioning and health for an Indigenous community in Canada. Although these pillars closely emulate the Healthy Built Environment Framework promoted by public health in Canada, adaptations were required to address the specific needs of Indigenous people. This involved analysing and modifying the language used to describe the core pillars and emphasising the importance of the social environment as the foundational underpinning of the built environment. These adaptations and the development of the Indigenous Healthy Built and Social Environment Framework makes space for Indigenous world views, the historical context of colonization and unique community priorities of Indigenous people.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have any experience working with Indigenous communities to create healthier built and social environments from their perspectives? Do your programs have jurisdictional boundaries?
  2. Is there any capacity in your programs or jurisdictions to conduct healthy built environment gap assessments? If yes, how is it conducted?
  3. How do you prioritize your HBE work?
  4. What tools would be helpful for you to become more involved in HBE or to incorporate more aspects of HBE in your work?

As an outcome of this study, a short video was created to highlight the impact of a colonial built and social environment from the perspectives of community members in O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation (OPCN). Please review this video prior to the webinar:

Webinar Recording