Indigenous Success Stories

Health (18-24)

Dr. Jennifer Shea, Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University

December 7, 2020

News at Medicine: Memorial University – Dr. Jennifer Shea, Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, along with a team of community partners, hopes to make cancer care delivery more culturally responsive and more respectful. Supported by the Canadian Partnership for Cancer at $866,000 for four years, the project is led by the Nunatsiavut Government, in partnership with Memorial University, the NunatuKavut Community Council, Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation and the Mushuau Innu First Nation.

Their project, “Courage, Compassion, and Connection, The Journey to Healing: Exploring Cancer Pre-diagnosis for Indigenous Peoples in Labrador” came from a stakeholder session held in Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 2018. Two main themes emerged: Challenges during both pre-diagnosis and transitions in care and Cultural Safety

Participants in the session expressed concerns about:

  • the high costs of travel for tests;
  • continuity in care due to a high turnover of health professionals
  • communities without a physician;
  • delays in getting test results.
  • transitions in care around discharge planning, such as patients being released without awareness of the remoteness of their community and expectations on family/caregivers to provide palliative care once they return.

“For First Nations, Inuit and Métis, a cancer diagnosis has obvious health implications, but also social, financial and interpersonal challenges,” said Dr. Shea.

“Often people living in rural and remote communities have to leave their homes and familiar surroundings for health services in unfamiliar territory. Add to that language barriers and misunderstandings of cultural practices and beliefs, which can make communication difficult.