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Building Knowledge and Capacity to Support Healthy Eating and Active Living in the Canadian Arctic Open Access


Other title
Healthy Eating
Chronic Disease Prevention
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Fournier, Bonnie
Supervisor and department
Kushner, Kaysi (Nursing)
Raine, Kim (Public Health)
Examining committee member and department
Salas, Anna Santos (Nursing)
Petruka, Pammla (University of Saskatchewan, Nursing)
Gibson, Nancy (Anthropology)
Faculty of Nursing

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-06:Spring 2017
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This qualitative single exploratory case study design, informed by Critical Social Theory (CST) (Habermas, 1982) and a participatory approach (Freire, 2000), explored how to build knowledge and capacity to support policy interventions that create conditions for healthy eating and active living in Aklavik, NT. The specific objectives of the study were: 1) to increase understanding of and capacity to support policy adoption and implementation and; 2) to develop and evaluate a culturally relevant policy tool kit that is community- driven and sustainable. Fourteen in-depth face-to-face individual interviews and two Wisdom Circles were conducted with local community decision makers, policy influencers and health practitioners. The participants identified themselves as innovators in terms of policy to support healthy eating and active living and supported three policy approaches: (1) banning unhealthy foods in public buildings; (2) banning the sale of energy drinks in the community and; (3) providing programs to educate the community about how to make healthy food choices. A policy tool kit was developed in collaboration with local decision makers and policy influencers to support policy adoption and implementation. Adopting and implementing policy to support healthy eating and active living is a complex process especially when worldviews differ (Indigenous and Western). Understanding the local context and how worldviews differed supported a locally and culturally relevant form of policy development. As a non-Indigenous researcher engaged in research with Indigenous peoples in the Canadian Arctic, a number of tensions arose as I entered the field to begin data collection. These tensions were a result of applying CST. Emancipatory and participatory theoretical and philosophical positions, such as CST, are supposed to expose Eurocentrism and offer possible paths for an ally working alongside Indigenous peoples. However, seeing my effort in knowledge production from this light has revealed my own potential complicity in colonizing, and thus contributing to the continued suffering of Indigenous peoples. As I began to look for answers within CST, I found limitations in how to engage practically in a decolonizing process of the research study and myself. Therefore, I put forward an argument for a theoretical position known as Anticolonial Theory that recognizes the importance of a locally produced knowledge. If left on its own, CST can perpetuate negative stereotypes through exposing and redressing inequities if the focus does not include a local voice, and in the case of my study, an Indigenous voice. A food policy story emerged during data collection. A story is a way of knowing that also captures the voice of local participants. Stories are also a way to communicate to policy makers, researchers and practitioners the results, successes, lessons learned and challenges of policy change that engage the reader in recognizing patterns similar to our own experiences. The policy processes of a local school food policy to address unhealthy eating are discussed. Dimensions of the RE-AIM framework are applied to evaluate the policy. A number of key activities facilitated the successful policy implementation process and the building of a critical mass to support healthy eating and active living in the community. The study has significant potential to inform decision makers, researchers and practitioners of how to build knowledge and capacity to support healthy eating and active living in the Canadian Arctic offered by the community of Aklavik.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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