An Aajiqatigiingniq (Consensus) Process to Develop an Evaluation Tool for Health and Wellness Outcomes of Land-Based Programs in the Canadian North

Be'sha Blondin, Maria Cherba, Kaila de Boer, Meghan Etter, Gwen Healey Akearok, Sidney Horlick, Nicole Redvers, Laurie Russell, Jimmy Ruttan, Taha Tabish

Abstract

Mental health is one of the key priorities of Indigenous communities in the Canadian North. Land-based programs rooted in Indigenous knowledge and focused on building connections to one’s land and culture have been used to promote mental wellness. However, evaluation of land-based programs is an emerging field of work. In this article, we describe the process of developing and implementing an evaluation tool for community-led land-based programs across the Canadian North to promote mental wellness among Indigenous boys and men. Through a partnership between eight community organisations and a community-based northern health research centre, a scoping review of existing evaluation tools and related literature was conducted by the research team to identify priority evaluation concepts. These concepts were then further discussed and reviewed during a consensus workshop to develop an evaluation tool (36-item questionnaire). Six community organisations in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Nunatsiavut used the tool to evaluate their programs, which validated its usefulness to assess programs varying in their activities, geography, and organisational types and capacities. Some implementation challenges were also identified. The findings highlight the necessity of developing program evaluation strategies tailored to the specific contexts of Indigenous communities, as well as the need for further research to report on the outcomes of evaluation initiatives.

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