The symposium aimed to develop relationships and networks to collaborate on health and social research priorities related to Inuit life. Over 70 participants were present, including Inuit and non-Inuit students from the University of Ottawa and other universities, health and social sciences researchers conducting research with Inuit, and community members (including residents, artists, and health and social practitioners). A panel discussion, presentations, and research posters allowed for cross-cultural sharing about health and wellness as experienced by Inuit.
The opening presentation featured the lighting of the qulliq, a traditional oil lamp made of stone and blubber of seals or whales for fuel, by Elder Jeannie Okalik. It is customary to light the qulliq before ceremonial events and is a symbolic expression of the strengths of Inuit women. It is one way Inuit women are passing down the traditions of their ancestors. The Finding Common Groundsymposium also featured country food and Inuit artwork.
Notably, the event took place at the Sandy Hill Community Centre, site of the Annie Pootoogook Park, posthumously dedicated to the Inuit artist in 2021.
The panel discussion titled “Inu-vation: Challenges and Opportunities for System Change” elicited strong participant engagement, emphasizing the urgency for research for system change, with housing a priority. The event lead from the University of Ottawa, Dr. Wendy Gifford, full professor in the School of Nursing and co-director of the Centre for Research on Health and Nursing, is looking forward to prospective research.
This symposium was funded by the University of Ottawa Office of the Vice President of Research through a SSHRC Exchange grant in partnership with Pauktuutit. It was the second Finding Common Ground event. The first was held in 2019 with First Nations, Inuit and Metis.
Gifford and team plan to continue working to strengthen collaborations while identifying priorities for culturally safe and ethically sound research with Inuit, to inform health and social policies, programs and practices.