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Multi-partnerships working to support heart disease, Kennedy’s disease research in Saskatchewan

A USask. research group said Indigenous people have higher rates of heart disease and Kennedy’s Disease and there is a need for culturally responsive health research. File Photo/ Global News

Multiple organizations in Saskatchewan are collaborating to support research on heart disease and spinal-bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA), also known as Kennedy’s disease.

A University of Saskatchewan (USask) research group called pewaseskwan partnered with the Key First Nation and the Yorkton Tribal Council (YTC) to learn more about the research.

Pewaseskwan is using Indigenous voices in the research and the Yorkton Tribal Council and The Key First Nation have been instrumental in providing support.

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According to a media release, Dr. Alexandra King of Nipissing First Nation and co-lead of pewaseskwan, said Indigenous people have higher rates of heart disease and Kennedy’s disease.

“To address this, there is a need for culturally responsive health research, services and programming that prioritize Indigenous knowledge systems, create ethical space between Indigenous and Western systems, and ensure culturally safe and resonant Western approaches,” she said in the release.

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“Heart disease and Kennedy’s disease have much higher-than-average rates in our communities, and we want to ensure our people play a strong role in the research to reduce the burden of these diseases.”

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The Key First Nation Chief stated in the release that members of his community are starting to learn more about Kennedy’s disease and the impacts of it in Indigenous communities.

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“The research team is invested in ensuring that the study is carried out in a good way, and we are especially pleased that one of our own, Elder Sharon Jinkerson-Brass, is helping to lead its implementation,” stated Chief Clinton Key.

Pewaseskwan partnered with the Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada (CANet) to support the establishment of an Indigenous Peoples Engagement and Research Council (IPERC) which consists of Indigenous elders, Knowledge Holders, people with lived/living experience of cardiac conditions, and Indigenous health leaders from various parts of Canada.

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Approximately 83 per cent of people with Kennedy’s disease in Saskatchewan are Indigenous, with most of them self-identifying as Cree or Saulteaux.

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