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New grant will fund research about health of Indigenous infants and toddlers

Jun 10, 2020

Michelle Butt

Above: Michelle Butt

Dr. Michelle Butt, associate professor in the School of Nursing, and Dr. Amy Wright, assistant professor at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, will co-lead an exciting new research project that seeks to improve the health of Indigenous infants and toddlers. Their research team was just awarded an Indigenous Gender and Wellness Development grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). 

Butt explains the thinking behind the research. “Early childhood is a critical period for growth and development, and challenges experienced during this time can have negative, long-term implications for an individual’s health and success as an adult,” she says. “Individuals in a parenting role are responsible for meeting their child’s caregiving and developmental needs. Parents must have the resources and skills necessary to optimize the health and wellness of their children. Indigenous parents, despite a history of resiliency and community support, face the challenge of parenting within a colonized, Western society where parenting approaches, gender roles, and priorities can differ and where there are few culturally-relevant programs to support parenting.”

The grant will allow the team to host an Indigenous-led Community Gathering on the traditional territories of the Haudenosaunee and Mississauga nations, Butt says. “Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Holders, parents, health providers from Indigenous-led organizations, and researchers will gather to discuss the strengths, challenges and gaps related to healthy parenting and optimizing early childhood development of young children in Hamilton. The Community Gathering will allow for knowledge sharing on parenting among Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Holders and community members, facilitate relationship building and, ultimately, establish priorities for an Indigenous-led research project related to optimizing child health and wellness through gender-diverse parenting.”

Grant Details:

Amy Wright (Nominated Principal Investigator), Michelle Butt (Co-Principal Investigator), Audrey Davis, Brenda Jacobs, Rachel VanEvery (Collaborators). Optimizing the Health of Indigenous Infants and Toddlers: Identification of Community Strengths, Needs and Priorities to Promote Early Childhood Development through Healthy, Gender Diverse Parenting. CIHR, $68,215, April 2020 – March 2021.

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