Walking the Prevention Circle: Bearing Witness to an Indigenous Process for Knowledge Sharing
Yamada, Samantha Akemi
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Knowledge translation (KT) is a key factor in improving approaches to preventing and addressing violence, abuse, and mental health problems. Knowledge sharing in an Indigenous context to improve health outcomes (i.e., Indigenous Knowledge Translation – IKT) is thought to be different than western conceptions of KT; however, research on IKT is lacking. Walking the Prevention Circle (WTPC) is a community-capacity building program developed by and for Indigenous people with the aim of preventing violence in communities. This program provided a unique opportunity to collaboratively study effective knowledge sharing in an Indigenous context. Together with the leaders of WTPC, I aimed to identify and understand the elements and processes of knowledge sharing in the context of WTPC. I studied the types of knowledge being shared, the process of sharing knowledge, the tailoring of program content and process, and barriers and catalysts to knowledge sharing in WTPC. Qualitative data were gathered from interviews with nine facilitators from across Canada. I also observed the implementation of WTPC in one community. Interview and observation data were transcribed and coded in NVivo 10 using inductive thematic analysis. To increase validity, coding was done with the assistance of an independent Indigenous research assistant and initial themes were checked with the leadership of WTPC. The findings of this research confirm the importance of aligning the content and process of knowledge sharing with the unique aspects of an Indigenous context. Understanding the influence of colonization on Indigenous communities and the subsequent lack of safety around sharing knowledge in Indigenous contexts is key. Knowledge sharing in WTPC is characterized by a decolonizing approach designed to counter the layers of colonial harm with layers of safety. Facilitators take an attuned, responsive, and humble relational stance that values knowledge already in communities. This stance creates a paradigm shift that challenges the historically unsafe process of sharing knowledge. Findings can be used by communities to advocate for more culturally-safe processes for knowledge sharing and may lead to an expanded and more culturally-safe conceptualization of knowledge translation. Findings may also guide the Canadian Red Cross in ways that support and improve the WTPC program.