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First Indigenous SCI Gathering: November 4, 2022
Praxis and Indigenous Peoples’ Liaison, Richard Peter, held the first Indigenous SCI Gathering on Friday November 4, 2022. The gathering took place at the offices of Spinal Cord Injury BC and provided a space for peers with spinal cord injuries (SCI) and other mobility issues to share and raise awareness on their experience as Indigenous people with a disability.
Facilitated by Richard Peter, the gathering also included Praxis-supported and -associated researchers. Billie-Jo Hardy, Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto and the Waakebiness Institute for Indigenous Health; Brittany Bingham, Assistant Professor in Social Medicine at UBC and Director, Indigenous Research at Vancouver Coastal Health; Andreas Pilarinos from the Vancouver Coastal Health Indigenous Health Team; and John Chernesky, Manager of the PLEX (people with lived experience of SCI) team at Praxis. Each presented information on their programs.
Open table discussions wove around information on current research and Praxis initiatives seeking to drive awareness and understanding of SCI among Indigenous communities. Invited peers shared insights and resiliencies from their own lives that illustrated why learning more about Indigenous experience is essential to developing solutions for health care and also research in SCI. Peers shared experiences with housing, education, funding and access to wheelchair equipment that significantly impact daily life. They also highlighted the loss of community that so many peers and caregivers experience when moving to urban areas for better service provision.
Experiences shared showed that there is a diversity of needs that are not being addressed currently, and that gatherings like this are important steps in raising awareness for research, health care, and in the wider community. Praxis intends to grow this initiative into a regional SCI-focused Indigenous network, for ongoing engagement and learning that will help better inform SCI research, clinical care and community support in BC and across Canada.