Smart Indigenous Youth

APPROACH: SMART Indigenous Youth embeds a land-based, culturally responsive, digital health initiative into school curricula to promote mental health, minimize substance abuse, and prevent suicide among Indigenous youth (13-18 years) in rural and remote regions. Before implementation of the Smart Indigenous Youth initiative, our team built strong partnerships with the communities based on equity, respect, and co-ownership. This partnership articulates not only study co-conceptualization and co-creation of knowledge, but also co-ownership of data and integrated knowledge translation. In implementing Smart Indigenous Youth, we are integrating services supported by the Saskatchewan ministries of health, education, and sport, thus enabling a policy of systems integration.

CONTEXT: Utilizing the SMART Platform, this 5-year community trial involves the embedding of a culturally, linguistically, and geographically appropriate land-based program into the school curricula in collaboration with school administrators, Elders, and community leaders.

COHORT: This program was developed and is being implemented in collaboration with Indigenous school administrators, Elders, and community leaders. The youth are the citizen scientists in this initiative, where they interact with researchers in real-time using smartphones to provide their perception of their own evolving behaviours in response to the land-based intervention.

PROCESS: This process involves engagement of stakeholders at all levels of government in co-creating evidence-based policy solutions with Indigenous decision-makers. Knowledge Translation, Citizen Engagement, and Community Participation are three pillars of this initiative. Community partners who co-own the data are consulted continuously to determine changes to the intervention, and to collaborate in knowledge mobilization. The project is informing Indigenous self-determination and governance.