Online Program

Decolonizing HIV research using arts-based methods: What aboriginal youth in Canada had to say

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sarah Flicker, BA, MPH, PHD, Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
Jessica Danforth, Native Youth Sexual Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
BACKGROUND: One explanation for the elevated prevalence of HIV/AIDS within Aboriginal communities is that systemic colonial oppression faced by Indigenous populations propagates conditions of risk. Many conventional HIV prevention strategies that fail to take these legacies into account, have proven ineffective. METHODS: “Taking Action: Using Arts-Based Approaches to Develop Aboriginal Youth Leadership in HIV Prevention” is a community-based research project examining how Aboriginal youth understand the links between individual risk and structural inequalities. A participatory research design using arts-based approaches (e.g. photography, theatre, painting, hip hop) was adopted in six Aboriginal communities. Data were collected through the creation of cultural productions during weekend workshops and in-depth follow-up interviews. Over 100 youth participated. RESULTS. Youth involved identified that both the process and product of arts-based methods were important. They identified the process: as fun, participatory, empowering, instilling pride, helpful in learning about culture, healing, enhancing recall, and assisting in opening up dialogue. In addition, products were: a source of pride, accessibly transmitted complex information, useful in raising awareness, conveyed emotion, tangible and long lasting and helped to both bridge and challenge traditional culture. CONCLUSION: Our findings support the notion that arts-based approaches to HIV prevention with Aboriginal youth can work. As an innovative tool that involves youth “where they are at,” it also embeds cultural understandings of health in by-youth, for-youth prevention and policy efforts. Arts-based approaches represent one way to assist with decolonizing the research process, moving forward the agenda of self-determination.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Describe the utility of arts-based research/intervention approaches Explain why a decolonizing approach to research is necessary Identify some strategies for engaging Aboriginal youth in health promotion

Keyword(s): HIV Interventions, Native and Indigenous Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal of multiple federally funded and foundation grants focusing on HIV prevention and ethical issues in research. Among my scientific interests has been the development of innovative CBPR strategies and prevention methods.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.