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Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education



Acknowledgements: The author group would like to thank members of the Ktunaxa Nation for making this university-community collaboration possible. We would also like to acknowledge the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for funding the Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres project. Abstract The Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres (KCLC) project, a community-university partnership, was funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research from 2006–2009. KCLCs were developed in three First Nations communities and aimed to provide community members with a physical and online space to access culturally relevant health education. Community leads collaborated with community members and university partners to coordinate KCLC development, and each KCLC evolved into a unique community resource that operated dynamically and according to various community factors. The current article presents four case studies, written from the point of view of community and university research and technology leads who worked on the KCLC project. Each lead discusses their self-perceived role in the project, successes and challenges they experienced throughout, and future goals and directions for the learning centres. This article is intended to illustrate the unique approaches that the KCLCs have been used and valued in their community from the point of view of those on the ground during their development.
© Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012 39
Ktunaxa Community Learning
Centres: Unique Community
Perspectives on the Development of
Health Education
Katherine Wisener; Nigel Warden; James N. White; Lisa Three Feathers; Brandy Joe; Sandra Jarvis-
Acknowledgements: The author group would like to thank members
of the Ktunaxa Nation for making this university-community collab-
oration possible. We would also like to acknowledge the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for funding the Ktunaxa
Community Learning Centres project.
The Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres (KCLC)
project, a community-university partnership, was
funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research
from 2006–2009. KCLCs were developed in three First
Nations communities and aimed to provide community
members with a physical and online space to access
culturally relevant health education. Community leads
collaborated with community members and university
partners to coordinate KCLC development, and each KCLC
evolved into a unique community resource that operated
dynamically and according to various community factors.
The current article presents four case studies, written
from the point of view of community and university
research and technology leads who worked on the KCLC
project. Each lead discusses their self-perceived role in
the project, successes and challenges they experienced
throughout, and future goals and directions for the
learning centres. This article is intended to illustrate the
unique approaches that the KCLCs have been used and
valued in their community from the point of view of
those on the ground during their development.
Key Words: University-community partnerships;
community-based research; health education; technology;
community health
40 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
The current article presents the development, imple-
mentation, and evaluation of a health education pro-
gram implemented in three First Nations commun-
ities from the perspectives of the community- and
university-based project leads. This health education
program, titled the Ktunaxa Community Learning
Centres (KCLC) project was a community-univer-
sity partnership funded by the Canadian Institute
of Health Research from 2006–2009.1 The rationale
for the KCLC project stemmed from the well-estab-
lished disparate health outcomes for Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal people in Canada combined with
the recognition that Aboriginal health is an umbrel-
la term that encompasses more than just health care
delivery and the straightforward provision of health
services (Loppie Reading and Wien, 2009). The over-
all goal of the KCLC project was to collaboratively
develop three learning centres that were each de-
signed by and for community members, providing
communities with health education and resources
specific to community-defined health priorities. The
current article presents the descriptive case studies
of the learning centres, illustrating the unique ap-
proaches that each learning centre has used and val-
ued in their community.
Community Learning Centres
Community Learning Centres (CLCs) are part of a
community-based educational intervention to im-
prove access to health education and resources.
Having access to health information that addresses
culturally relevant definitions of health is important
for Aboriginal people to build capacity in address-
ing their own health needs (Blueprint for Aboriginal
Health, 2005). A CLC includes both a physical space
with computers, and an online portal with cultur-
ally appropriate health information and resources.
The goal of a CLC is to recognize the unique contexts
specific to individual communities, and to engage
community members and community-based health
professionals in the design of the CLC space and web-
1. The KCLC project was funded in the 2006 “Aboriginal Health Human
Resources in Community-Based Research” Competition under ap-
plication #156723
site. This fosters community ownership and involve-
ment in determining appropriate health concerns
and educational resources to address those con-
cerns. Originating in 2001 in Mexico’s Tecnologico
de Monterey (Monterrey Tech), the CLC concept
was established to bring health information to resi-
dents of geographically isolated regions of Mexico,
suffering from a paucity of health care providers and
services. The concept was then piloted in 2005 in
British Columbia’s Tl’azt’en Nation to understand
how information and communication technologies
could be integrated into an Aboriginal community
to provide otherwise inaccessible access to health
education (Jarvis-Selinger et al., 2008; Jarvis-Selinger
et al., 2009). Lessons learned from the Tl’azt’en CLC
were used to plan the development and implemen-
tation of three CLCs in British Columbia’s Ktunaxa
Nation (Jarvis-Selinger et al., 2009).
The KCLC Project
The three communities profiled in this article are
located in the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa
Nation in the southeast corner of British Columbia,
Canada. In 2006, the UBC eHealth Strategy Office
partnered with the Ktunaxa Nation and success-
fully obtained a three-year grant from the Canadian
Institutes of Health Research. The eHealth Strategy
Office is a self-funded research group in UBC’s
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 41
Faculty of Medicine; its mission is to carry out re-
search, community engagement, and educational
activities that explore how modern information and
communication technologies can improve health.
The KCLC project followed a Community-based
Participatory Research (CBPR) approach. CBPR is a
collaborative orientation to research that involves
community members and researchers as partners in
all stages of the research (Minkler and Vallerstein,
2011; Cornwall and Jewkes, 1995). CBPR approaches
have the potential to reduce health disparities be-
cause they are grounded in community collabora-
tion and capacity building that benefits participants
(Israel et al., 2005). The CBPR approach was illustrat-
ed in the KCLC in the collaborative nature between
community and university partners in codevelop-
ing the learning centres in the community-driven
health education content. In addition to CBPR prin-
ciples, the principles of Ownership, Control, Access,
Possession were relied on throughout all research ac-
tivities (First Nations Centre, 2007). The study was
approved by the University of British Columbia’s
Behavioural Research Ethics Board (H07-03122).
The majority of project funding supported the
hiring, training, and ongoing mentoring of one eval-
uation lead and one technical lead within each com-
munity to coordinate the activities of each KCLC.
These community leads received mentorship and
guidance from the University of British Columbia
research and technical team as they developed their
capacity to be providers and facilitators of health in-
formation to their community.
The community evaluation leads learned how to
conduct research in their own community by iden-
tifying health priorities, and then using these priori-
ties as a starting point to develop culturally relevant
health content or workshops based on community-
identified needs. Evaluation leads also completed
data collection with community members through-
out the project timeframe to assess their KCLC’s ef-
fectiveness in reaching the community.
The community technology leads learned how to
maintain and update KCLC equipment and online
health information. Technology leads also support-
ed community members as they navigated KCLC
technology. The university and community team
members met regularly to deal with administrative
tasks, problem-solve, collaborate on education and
training events, share information, and guide the di-
rection of each KCLC.
The development of the KCLCs during and after
the funding period was unique to each commun-
ity context. The current article presents the creation,
implementation, and evaluation of each KCLC as
case studies. Each case study is described from the
perspective of the community- and university-based
leads who collaborated with community members
and university partners to coordinate the KCLCs.
Therefore, each case is written in the first person,
providing insight into the various community and
personnel factors that gave each KCLC a unique
identity as a community-based, health education re-
source. Within each journey, the KCLC community
and university leads describe their self-perceived role
in the project, the successes and challenges they ex-
perienced throughout the project, and future goals
and directions for each learning centre.2
The CLC at Lower Kootenay
Lower Kootenay or Yaqan Nu?kiy (pronounced Ya-can
Noo-chi) has 212 registered members, 90 of whom
live on reserve (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
[INAC], 2010). Lisa Jimmie worked in the Lower
Kootenay CLC as the evaluation lead for the major-
ity of the project. Unlike the other two CLC com-
munities, Lower Kootenay was unable to identify a
community-based technical lead to coordinate the
CLC technological and equipment. Nigel Warden,
the technical lead in the Aq’am CLC, provided Lisa
with technology support through community visits
and remote assistance. Lisa was the only consistent
and long-term Lower Kootenay CLC staff member
and describes her experience below. As will become
apparent, Lisa’s own technology skills and online
literacy developed significantly over time, and she
shared these skills with other community members.
2. While one evaluation lead and one technical lead were originally
hired to coordinate each KCLC, there were several instances of KCLC
staff turnover. The current case studies are presented by those leads
who were involved in the KCLC project for some length — some
throughout the entire three-year project.
42 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
Lisa Jimmie, Research Lead
My name is Lisa Jimmie, I’m 30 years old, and I
started working on the Lower Kootenay band CLC in
the fall of 2007. The learning centre website3 was cre-
ated to keep the community informed with health
topics, healthy recipes, upcoming events, profiles
of the CLC team, UBC team, and contact informa-
tion. Our CLC was located in the basement of the
Yellow House, which also contained the daycare and
health staff. There were eight computers in the CLC.
I felt like I was in a unique position, since the project
had already started before I came on board. When
I joined the KCLC team, the person on the project
before me helped by giving me the information
they had already researched, along with the names
and phone numbers of people that worked on the
project and a schedule of phone conferences. That
made it easier for the transition to take place. My
job title was the Lower Kootenay CLC Research Lead.
There were two positions for each community, the
research lead and technical lead. Since there was no
technical lead when I first started my role as the re-
search lead, I was approached by UBC about the pos-
sibility of holding both jobs. I was a little nervous
at first but since I was interested in computer tech-
nology, I gave it a chance. One obstacle that I faced
right off the start was being the only one here and
not knowing a lot about computers. Being a visual
learner it’s easier to show me how to do things so
being on my own was a challenge. It was made easier
by having the technical lead from Aq’am teach me
about remote assistance. This method helped me do
3. The Lower Kootenay CLC can be found at
some of the technical things and it was a wonderful
experience to be able to work hands-on and to be
able to use the computers at the CLC.
As a research lead, I led the creation of health
articles on various health topics that were said to
be important by the community members. The top
three health priorities in the community were can-
cer, diabetes, and healthy living (e.g., exercise and
nutrition). I mainly used computers and the Internet
to do this research and gather information on these
health topics. I would also go out into the commun-
ity and collect data from community members in
order to gather information on various topics. After
I collected this data, I worked with the UBC team
to write health education articles, and I sent the
completed information to the technical lead, who
made the articles available on the CLC websites. I
also included information that was culturally rel-
evant, such as traditional recipes and information
on community-based workshops.
Successes experienced
During the time I spent on this project I learned a
lot. It took a little bit of planning but we had a web
design workshop in the winter of 2008. This was a
very good workshop. We learned how to do web lay-
outs, web pages, and various web designs. It was dif-
ficult at first, not knowing a whole lot about com-
puters. It took a little practice to get used to using
codes for layouts, colours, inserting pictures, head-
ings, paragraphs, fonts, especially because everyone
at the workshop was at a different stage of computer
knowledge. However, once the workshop instructor
showed a few examples of how to use different codes,
it got easier. The instructor did a wonderful job. For
some it would be refreshing for others, like me, it was
a new topic for learning.
Throughout the project we kept in close contact
with the crew from UBC on a weekly basis. When
I first started on the project I was involved with
one-on-one teleconferences with the university re-
searcher. After the CLCs were up and running, we
started doing group teleconferences with the rest
of the CLC leads from the other bands. We stuck
with this method after finding it was most effective.
More recently, we started getting into more tech-
nical means of communication through Web-Ex and
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 43
Skype. With these programs along with the use of
headphones and web cams, we were able to see and
hear each other. This was a great learning experience
and made the weekly meetings more enjoyable.
As part of the research, we worked as a team to
create interviews and questionnaires for our com-
munities which were meant to keep track of the
CLCs and how they were benefiting the commun-
ities. It was a great way to stay in contact and bring
the community together. It also brought the leads
from each CLC closer together to work as a team.
Challenges faced
Overall, learning the technical lead skills was my big-
gest challenge. Right from the start, one obstacle I
faced was being the only one at the Lower Kootenay
CLC, and not knowing a lot about computers. Nigel
and I started working together when we were hook-
ing up the computers for the grand opening on
February 5th, 2008. That was a good way to start,
just by setting up the computers. After that we had
more one-on-one sessions. He would come to the
CLC and teach me how to maintain the computers.
For example, he showed me how to: update the anti-
virus software: remove viruses: install the Ktunaxa
language on the keyboards; fix printer problems and
connect the printer t o all computers; set the time; and
add and remove various programs. Nigel also taught
me about web design software (i.e., Dreamweaver).
He went through how to use the templates for the
website and I worked on the CLC website it in or-
der to practice what I had learned. I started by add-
ing links on the website. It was a good experience to
learn how to make website updates and also it was
easier having him right here. Since Nigel couldn’t
be here all the time we started using remote assist-
ance so we were both able to have control over my
computer and he could continue teaching me about
maintaining the computers. In addition, we kept in
contact using MSN Messenger as I had a lot of ques-
tions about computers. Using Messenger I learned
how to send files and receive them using web links. I
would save conversations and print them.
Future directions
One thing I want to work on is encouraging our com-
munity to be more involved. I want our people to
feel comfortable enough to try out new technology.
There seems to be pretty valid reasons why I’ve had
a hard time to get people to come to the CLC. Some
people are intimidated by computers and are un-
comfortable working on them. Some of these people
feel better knowing that there’s someone here to
help them. Other people have their own computers
in their homes. For these people I would like them
to know about the website and let them know that
their input is important as well. I’ve worked on a
plan to get people here and get their input at the
same time. I’d like to have a questionnaire put up on
the website to get feedback about the CLC and small
prizes for their valuable input.
The CLC at Aq’am
The Aq’am CLC (pronounced Ah-kahm) has 352
registered band members, 192 of whom live on re-
serve (INAC, 2010). The Aq’am CLC is the most cen-
trally located and has the largest number of com-
munity members within the Ktunaxa Nation. For
most of the project, the CLC was staffed by an evalu-
ation and technical lead. Midway through the pro-
ject, the evaluation lead left her position and there-
fore her story is not reflected in this article.
Nigel Warden was hired as the original technical
lead and maintained his position for the duration
of the project. In fact, throughout the project, Nigel
continued to undertake training and developed his
skills to the extent that he became an expert in IT
and acted as a resource for other KCLC technical
leads. He was also hired by the Nation IT depart-
ment as a permanent staff member. As evidenced by
Lisa’s story, Nigel emerged as a mentor and expert in
the KCLC project. Below, Nigel presents the unique
journey of the Aq’am CLC and touches on both
evaluation and technical aspects of its development.
Nigel Warden, Community Technical
My name is Nigel Warden. I first became employed
by St. Mary’s Indian Band (Aq’am) in 2006, when
I was 26 years old. I primarily fulfilled an IT role
for the staff and offices here. The Aq’am CLC was
housed in a small trailer in the centre of the clus-
44 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
ter of office buildings across from the St. Eugene’s
Mission Resort. Inside there were 10 computers
arranged tightly against the walls of a small room
just big enough to accommodate. When I started I
didn’t know what the CLC project was all about. For
a while, I basically just participated in the weekly
meetings, answered emails, and jumped through
hoops as they came up. For quite a long time, it
seemed like there wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm
for this in myself and in my supervisors and even
from the UBC leads at times — possibly because
there was no solid direction yet. Obviously, there
were plans already drawn up regarding milestones,
overall goals, and what the project would include.
For example, we knew that we wanted to create a
computer lab environment, a health content related
website, and a community engagement plan to de-
termine what content the community would like to
see on the website.
The CLC technical lead’s main responsibility was
to design and maintain the CLC website4 and equip-
ment, a job that definitely picked up as the project
went on. Right from the start I knew my role was to
create a website, so I looked to my previous ama-
teur experience in web design. I started creating the
website from scratch using techniques that I knew
were part of the standard practice of web develop-
ment such as sketching a layout and making initial
decisions about the technologies to use. I collabor-
ated with the UBC leads about what sections would
appear and threw ideas around about how those
sections might be presented. It took me a while
to write the initial framework on the website, be-
cause I started from scratch. I installed a Linux web
4. The Aq’am CLC can be found at
server on a spare computer, which was a fun tech-
nical exercise and learning experience. By the time
I had that sorted out, the Adobe Dreamweaver li-
cense that UBC provided at my request arrived and I
began writing the raw code in the PHP/HTML/CSS/
JavaScript languages. Having no formal education in
web design, it was kind of directionless, with a lot of
unnecessary micromanaging and debugging code. I
didn’t realize this until the Ktunaxa Nation Council’s
communications guru said that I was trying to re-
invent the wheel, and showed me better ways to
use Dreamweaver. He taught me that Dreamweaver
had many features built right into it — especially
hierarchical template schemes — where every page
on the site was cloned from a template and every
template was based on another template above it.
This was mind-blowing to me, and I began applying
this concept to my web development — searching
for and using well-established tools, and essentially
trusting the software.
The web development continued and I started
collaborating with the research lead on ideas for
site content. One of the first pages we worked on
was the traditional native plants page. I started cre-
ating the templates and ideas for the sections and
we scheduled a nature walk hosted by a commun-
ity member who knew some things about tradition-
al plants, such as how to identify them and some
of the traditional uses. I brought along my digital
camera and we took notes based on the bits of in-
formation we heard. We organized the notes into
sections that explained what the plants are good
for, how they might be dangerous or how they were
used traditionally by Ktunaxa people. We got back to
the office and the research lead matched her notes
to my photos and we put the information on the
website. A screenshot of the website featuring one
of the plants and the community knowledge associ-
ated with it can be seen below.
From then on, the content development of the
site followed that same pattern with the other pages.
The research lead began to develop research articles
on important health topics identified by the com-
munity from start to finish. It was a process, starting
from choosing a health priority, researching it, writ-
ing an article with key information and resources
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 45
relevant to our community, and working with me
to update it on the website. We eventually ended up
with health articles on a number of topics, includ-
ing: addictions, diabetes, depression, hepatitis C,
HIV, and HPV. Increasing the variety of information
available on the CLC meant that over time the site
has seen many visual and technical upgrades and
my skills have increased tenfold. It’s a steep learning
curve and you have to keep up with new technol-
ogy and feedback from the community. Things really
started to fall into place when the computer lab por-
tion was opened and ready for the community. This
involved installing and configuring Windows XP for
about 50 computers that were intended for all of the
CLCs in the Ktunaxa Nation. After the launch, the
site design and functionality was always improved
upon, with plans for more improvements continu-
ously being developed.
Successes experienced
One of the major successes of the CLC was holding
various health and technology workshops. Health
professionals or experts in the field would lead work-
shops with community members about: cancer pre-
vention, career cruising, job readiness, resume writ-
ing, Ktunaxa language typing, music recording, web
design, and data analysis. The job readiness workshop
hosted by one of Ktunaxa’s employment officers had
a large turnout, and the web design workshop for all
CLC staff was also very useful to the project team. I
found the music technology workshop to be person-
ally the most exciting workshop. It was directed to-
wards youth, and it seemed that anyone who heard
about it wanted to help or be a part of it. The goal
was to attract people with local music skills and tal-
ent and have them bring their own equipment in or-
der to show the “newbies” how to use technology in
music recording and also just to share our ideas and
skills. The idea quickly gained a lot of support from
the Aq’am’s staff, the CLC leads and external groups.
There was a very surprising turnout from the youth
in the community. Some may have been truly in-
terested in learning about making music, and some
may have just gone to see Rex Smallboy talk.5 By the
end of the workshop, we had sparked the interest of
several youth who were eager to attend future music
workshops and also generated a lot of interest and
awareness of the CLC. The best thing about the work-
shops was that they enabled community members
to get their hands dirty with technology.
The other primary success of our CLC is that the
community is regularly using it. We have at least one
person using the CLC every day. Students frequently
come to check their email, do homework, and even
ask for help with their homework. Sometimes youth
just come in to chat about things. One of our com-
munity Elders is visually impaired and comes in to
the CLC to use the computers. JAWS, a screen read-
er program, allowed him to browse websites and
use his email with ease. Software programs such
as JAWS and others are installed based on specific
community needs, and helps people feel supported
when they use the CLCs.
Another success of our CLC is that it has helped
preserve the Ktunaxa language. With our lan-
guage being an isolate,6 preservation and education
through generations is critical to its survival. The
CLC was able to help this process by translating the
site content into Ktunaxa, hosting Ktunaxa keyboard
workshops, and delivering an online course from
the local college titled “Introduction to Ktunaxa.” To
help students take this course, I designed a Ktunaxa
Keyboard Inlay, which acts as a handy reference
sheet to go with the old font and the alt-code refer-
5. Since the 1990s, Rex Smallboy has been actively involved in the shap-
ing and development of the Canadian Native Rap Music Scene. He
played a essential part in pioneering the market for positive Native
rap music concerts and workshops bringing entertainment and em-
powerment to First Nations communities all across Canada.
6. An isolate is a language unrelated to any other known languages.
Isolates often carry unique traits unseen in other languages and are
a priority for language revitalization efforts and linguistic study.
 
 
46 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
ence people sometimes have taped to their moni-
tors or desks. This keyboard inlay can be folded and
trimmed to fit snugly in the gap above the top num-
bers row for desktops or laptops.
Challenges faced
Although the CLC eventually had regular users, when
it first opened, it was hard getting people to even be
aware of the CLC and what it could be used for. It
seemed that communications about the CLC to the
community weren’t reaching the audience that we
thought we were targeting. There were lots of ideas
for workshops that could be delivered but many of
them didn’t happen. We may have underestimated
the amount of advertising and planning that was
required to put on a successful workshop. Limited
funding for promotional materials didn’t help, and
even when the research lead came up with a creative
strategy to fund promotional materials and snacks
and beverages, having only a small number of par-
ticipants made it difficult to sustain motivation to
put on any other workshops.
I think we also had trouble fleshing out a com-
plete, big-picture plan for the CLC, and instead our
focus was largely on getting the word out about the
CLC’s presence. When I say presence, I don’t just
mean having people aware of the CLC, or even getting
them to come here, but to have them identify their
interests, which could then drive the CLC’s identi-
ty. That’s the key factor that’s going to bring them
back, that’s what’s going to keep them around, and
that’s what’s going to make them care. Things got
a little easier and started to pick up in the summer
when school was out and students hung around the
area, and discovered that there was a place that they
could come and use Facebook, You Tube, and talk
to each other. It didn’t matter what we were bring-
ing them in for and maybe we didn’t always have
to sell the idea of workshops and learning about
health information. The way people were going to
know about the CLC and eventually see value in it
was simply by spreading the word, and I think that
was the key to attracting the youth. That’s when we
shifted focus from delivering empty workshops, to
going out into the community online and in per-
son to tell people about the CLC. Simply saying “you
should come check it out” was a way to reach out to
the community, even if the programming wasn’t ne-
cessarily health or traditional learning related.
A final challenge was the difficulty keeping up
with technology. Having someone on hand with
technical capacity in each CLC was a big undertaking.
This person didn’t necessarily need extensive experi-
ence, but at least needed to have the basic knowledge
to begin fixing the challenges that came up in every-
day IT life. Someone needed to continually improve
the equipment in the CLCs, as hardware limitations
were quite obvious when you actually sat down to
use one of the computers. Even after updating the
computers through Computers for Schools, they were
still the bare minimum of what was needed to run
Windows XP “comfortably.” It was rewarding but
also quite challenging to realize that there is a large
social component to IT work. For example, knowing
and gauging what technical level someone was at,
and adjusting my attitude, language, and delivery in
order to strike a balance between not doing things
for them and not going way over their heads came
up almost daily. I’ve learned through the KCLC proj-
ect that being an IT worker is actually very closely
related to being a teacher.
Future directions
If you asked a lot of people “how would you feel if
the CLC was gone?” I think a lot of people would
say they would feel at a loss. Even if they didn’t use
it, they knew someone who made good use of it. It
would be nice if the CLC continued to be a part of
the community in the future, because it has com-
puters, a lending library, it’s free and accessible.
The CLC at Akisq’nuk
The Akisq’nuk community has 261 registered band
members, 113 of whom live on reserve (INAC, 2010).
James White was hired as the technical lead at the
beginning of the project in 2006. He set up the space
and the equipment and never hesitated to teach CLC
users about the technology. Brandy Joe took on the
evaluation lead position about mid-way through the
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 47
James White, Technical Lead
Brandy Joe, Research Lead
My name is James, I’m 63 years old and have been
working on the CLC in Akisq’nuk since 2006. The
CLC7 is located in the Akisq’nuk First Nation build-
ing basement and began set-up in September of
2007. The hours of operation were set from 1:00
pm–5:00 pm, Monday to Thursday. Friday was set to
10:00 am–2:30 pm. The CLC was closed on Saturdays,
Sundays, and holidays. In setting up the CLC, first
all of the computers to be used by the CLC were
prepared. Because these computers did not have
the current software and hardware this took several
weeks. Initially, we did not have an evaluation lead
on board and taking on the task of both the technic-
al and the evaluation lead made progress slow and
sometimes discouraging. Gathering content for the
CLC was truly an uplifting task. To see and hear dif-
ferent ideas from community members helped the
CLC progress. The CLC launch date was on May 21,
2008. In attendance that day were a UBC team rep-
7. The Akisq’nuk CLC can be found at
resentative, a Council member and members of the
local Akisq’nuk First Nation.
Surveys were conducted and all the information
gathered was prioritized and used on the CLCs web-
site. Community members, young and older, made
visits to use the CLC. In 2008 one community mem-
ber — Brandy Joe — showed interest in helping and
taking on the role of the evaluation lead. Together,
Brandy and I set the goal of creating a new web page
for the CLC. CLC staff consisted of one evaluation
lead, one technical lead, with an appointed super-
visor for most of the project timeframe. Weekly com-
munications were done using the Internet, phone,
and post. The physical space previously housed dif-
ferent educational projects, but none of them lasted
as long as the CLC. A lot of upgrades were completed
over time, and physical accessibility upgrades were
always in the works. As the technical lead, I coordin-
ated the CLC web design and provided support to
community members who accessed the CLC.
I’m Brandy Joe from Akis’nuk and I was 24 years
old when I became involved in the CLC. In September
of 2008, while taking an online course called IC3
(Internet and computing core certification), I start-
ed coming to the CLC on a regular basis to use the
high speed Internet connection. The course was a
20 week program in which I spent a minimum of
20 hours a week in the CLC working on my course
gaining knowledge in computers and the CLC itself.
In January 2009 my 20-week IC3 course was com-
pleted and I had received my certificate, at which
point I was very familiar with how the CLC was run
and I smoothly transitioned from the IC3 course to
becoming an employee of the CLC. My hands-on
technical skills were put to the test by James, includ-
ing introductory computer hardware and software
maintenance procedures. James and I took apart a
computer as he explained each component and we
built it back up together again.
After some basic technical training, my role with
the CLC was the research evaluation lead. My in-
volvement with the CLC consisted of research and
study, which was put toward articles that focused
on issues of importance in our communities such
as health information and awareness. I was also in
charge of coming up with new ways to reach out
48 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
to people through the CLC, whether it was through
writing interesting articles, planning workshops, or
just talking to people. I believe my role was really
about trying to make people aware about our activ-
ities and issues that need to be addressed. I feel it was
not only about raising awareness of certain issues,
but trying to change certain things as well. For me it
was “seeing what there was to change, and to change
it; seeing what there was to address and address it.”
Successes experienced
When the CLC project started, more than 50% of
homes in our community did not have a computer,
and those that did were limited in that they didn’t
have high-speed connection. This made the CLC a
good, safe, reliable, and comfortable place to come
to. As some health issues could be too embarrassing
to talk about face-to-face with community-based
health professionals, individuals felt more comfort-
able choosing technological information solutions
to answer their questions. To accommodate this, I
researched easy and informative web sites to link
into the CLC. Community members also came in to
use the CLC for researching, resume building, and
editing using different applications. Students’ com-
puter literacy varied, some were more experienced
and were comfortable using the computer and its
applications. Other community members were first
time computer users and went through a quick and
easy introduction. Typing was always a difficulty
with some, so online and CD keyboarding lessons
were used. Questions on where to find informa-
tion, how to search on the Internet, and the safety
of websites were answered by the attending tech-
nical lead or other experienced CLC users. Two of the
CLC computers were not connected to the Internet
to help beginners learn how to use a computer and
these computers also contained some beginning in-
formation on the Ktunaxa language and traditions.
Using these “offline” computers helped beginners
move to the online Ktunaxa language information
and practice working “live” on the Internet.
The CLC had an especially positive effect on the
kids in our community. Elementary school students
accessed the CLC daily after school, some just play-
ing games, while others used this time to finish
homework, research labs, or spend time on social
websites. Computer usage was not limited to just
doing resumes, emails, etc. Downloading and up-
loading photos, music, and activating phones, iPods,
mp3s, cameras, and other devices taught them more
and more about technology. The more advanced stu-
dents mentored other community members who
were new to technology. Just having the CLC open
when the kids got off the school bus gave them a
place where they could go which was fun and social,
rather than them just going home and being bored,
made the CLC an important place in the commun-
We were successful in creating CLC website con-
tent relevant to health concerns that were identi-
fied in surveys conducted with a wide age range in
our community. Three top issues identified were
about addictions, cancer, and diabetes. Information
from interviews, family gatherings, and workshops
was used to research different web sites which were
published on the CLC website. The evaluation lead
headed all these tasks and the technical lead did the
editing before publishing the information. A big arti-
cle I put a lot of time and research into was about
mental health, specifically, suicide. Suicide is a com-
mon cause of death in First Nation’s communities
yet the issue is rarely addressed and is instead “swept
under the rug” and ignored. This is an example of an
article that helped with the healing process, provid-
ed resources, and helped people identify the warning
signs to prevent future suicides.8
As the evaluation lead, the most positive as-
pect of my involvement with the KCLC project was
making a difference in the community by voicing
my thoughts and opinions. The music technology
workshop that we had, for example, was the best
experience I had with the CLC because it was a per-
sonal thing for me. I helped with promoting the
event, creating posters, sending out emails, talking
to people about it, and so on. I even approached a
musician whom I saw as a very positive role model
and asked him to come to the workshop to share his
success and struggle stories and a few words of in-
spiration with the youth about music and life goals.
It was a start of positive change in the community
8. The article on suicide prevention can be found here: http://akisqnuk.
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 49
— as with many youth in general, finding our voice
and our identity is very hard. For some this struggle
turns them toward drugs, alcohol, violence, promis-
cuity, and other negative activities to fill that void.
Writing, making music, rapping, or singing was just
a small way youth in our communities could express
themselves. Any form of venting or self-expression
was helpful in growing and moving forward. Music
has personally helped me a lot in my life, and I want-
ed it to do the same for other people. And it did
help some of the people who went to that work-
shop, especially those who listened to Rex Smallboy
(the workshop instructor) and what he said about
his own life, talking about his experiences and giv-
ing us inspirational, motivational speeches. I think
the youth got a lot out of the workshop and con-
tinued to use the things that they learned. Since the
workshop, youth continue to use the CLC and the
music equipment on a regular basis with regular
Friday night jam/recording sessions. This has kept
the youth busy so they are not going out to the par-
ties and getting themselves into trouble.
Challenges faced
The biggest challenge with our CLC was its location.
We were in the basement of the band administra-
tion office, down a million stairs. As far as how
these challenges affected the project, if we were in
a better location, more Elders would use the facili-
ties. Additionally, other community members didn’t
know about its existence because it was downstairs.
For about a year, I didn’t even know the CLC was
there. I was told to call James White because I had
some computer problems and when I arrived at
the band office, I was told to go down to the CLC.
Changing to a location more noticeable and access-
ible for Elders and people with disabilities would
increase CLC impact. Elders of the community ap-
proached the new technology with some quiet ap-
prehension. Those that used the CLC once did not
return because of the access entrances, not because
they were not interested.
Another main challenge was that a lot of people
had ideas about to improve the CLC, but putting
those ideas into action was sometimes difficult. For
example, we tried to hear everybody’s concern; like
when we spoke to community members they all had
their own ideas about what the CLC should be and,
as CLC staff, sometimes we were limited in being
able to address these things. Some ideas were be-
yond our control due to budgetary constraints or
just having too many ideas for too short a time-
line. The project budget covered our wages but there
wasn’t much set aside for workshops and activities.
We had be creative in finding ways to get people in-
terested in ways that didn’t involve big events. So
while everybody had their own hopes and needs, we
weren’t always able to meet every one of those be-
cause sometimes it would have taken too much time
or too much funding.
Creating momentum for a new community pro-
gram was sometimes difficult, and it was hard to
engage many people in the community. Sometimes
I thought that pride stopped people from coming
in because they didn’t know how to use a computer
and they were ashamed about that. A lot of older
people who got on the computer and realized they
didn’t know what they’re doing, thought that they
should somehow “know,” and it shamed them to
have their kids typing fast and knowing more than
their parents. A lot of the time people didn’t come
in for that reason — they’d rather not face that hu-
miliation. I couldn’t go to every house and tell them
about the CLC, but if somebody in each family spoke
to at least one other relative, the word would have
spread about the CLC. As CLC staff, I had to become
more social in order for people to feel comfortable
coming to us. That was part of our job. It was dif-
ficult because some people would rather just stay at
home all day, sleep, and play video games, because
to get up, get dressed, and get ready for the world
was sometimes a lot. A lot of people have prob-
lems with being social. For example, a lot of people
around here are family, but sometimes I meet people
that I never heard of before.
Future directions
One direction we always strove towards was to en-
courage more involvement from our own commun-
ities, and specifically the band administration staff
located upstairs from the CLC. Since their offices
were upstairs and we were in the basement, they had
no idea what we did in the CLC. If they knew more
about what we were doing, we could have teamed
50 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
up and done a lot more. I know everyone was busy
doing their own thing, but they probably person-
ally had their ideas, opinions, and concerns, and it
would help to be aware of them. For example, col-
laborating with other departments in the Akisq’nuk
administration brought forward the idea to use the
CLC for its original purpose and to also include in it
a space for language and traditional knowledge.
We also wanted to make more educational
courses accessible through the CLC. Essentially,
people wanted to see more happen with the CLC
that involved them; they wanted to see courses that
women could take, men could take, they wanted
the CLC to be accessible to everybody, all ages, and
all abilities. Some community members requested
certain certificate courses (e.g., trades, hairstyling,
cooking courses, etc.).
Moving forward, I wanted to see the CLC con-
tinue and get better. I didn’t want it to just get
smaller and die off, I wanted to see it grow bigger
and have a future. And I hope to see it here a couple
years from now as it continues to get better. I think
we strove for a perfect CLC. The perfect CLC would
involve everybody, doing what they want to do,
being happy, and just having everything that they
need. I wanted it to be there for them. Having it in
a nice sunny place where the sun could shine in the
windows — that would be close to a perfect CLC.
The development of the CLC was successful; other-
wise we wouldn’t have seen kids in there every day.
We started from pretty much nothing to something
very beneficial and useful to a lot of people. People
who had health concerns used the CLC to find infor-
mation. Each time somebody logged onto the web-
site, it became more proof that someone acknow-
ledged us, that what we were doing was good.
The University Lead
Katherine Wisener, UBC Lead
Hi everyone, my name is Katherine Wisener and I
became the university research lead for the KCLC
project when I was 24. At the time I was a new em-
ployee at the eHealth Strategy Office and the KCLC
project was my first opportunity to become involved
in a university-community partnership. I was eager
to be involved in such an exciting initiative! As the
community-based research and technical leads co-
ordinated the on-the-ground implementation of
three CLCs in their communities, my role was to pro-
vide support and guidance throughout this process.
This involved setting regular working meetings to set
goals, problem-solve, collaborate, plan events and
workshops, and guide the project evaluation. I acted
as the liaison between the community leads and the
larger UBC and Ktunaxa team who guided the big-
picture project goals (e.g., principal investigators).
Successes experienced
The largest success of the project for me was the pro-
cess of turning a concept into reality. We began the
project with the vague goal of developing a physical
gathering space in First Nations communities and
an online web resource that provided community
members and staff with health education and re-
sources. Beyond this we didn’t know exactly what
each CLC would look like, where they would be
housed, and if they would be a valued commun-
ity resource. This lack of clarity early in the project
was intentional and consistent with the CBPR ap-
proach we followed — we wanted the CLC identities
to develop organically, based on community health
priorities, input, and interests. It was amazing to be
a part of a dedicated group who took a promising
idea and made it reality. The end result was three
collaboratively built CLCs that housed computers,
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 51
hosted health and education workshops, and pro-
vided accessible online health articles and resources
(e.g., traditional nutrition information, community
events). Most importantly, community members
actively used the CLCs! Playing a role in the CLC
development and seeing the impact was the most
meaningful success for me.
Another project success was the meaningful rela-
tionships that emerged between myself and the com-
munity leads. Developing relationships across geo-
graphical distances can be challenging. The other UBC
team members had travelled to the communities in
the initial community engagement phase. I became
involved just after this, so I met with the community
leads once a week over teleconference. Even though I
found this difficult at first, after a couple of meetings
it became easy to collaborate, work through issues
that came up as a team, encourage peoples’ ideas,
and come up with plans to achieve them. Once the
leads were on my MSN and Facebook accounts, we
began to use those social networking tools to com-
municate in a more informal and “as needed” way.
Eventually, we acquired WebEx, a videoconferencing
web-based tool that allowed us to meet “visually” —
as close to face-to-face as we could get. Transitioning
towards web-enabled tools really supported us in
meeting our goals, working together as a team, and
developing ongoing friendships.
Another success was to see the community leads
build their capacity as community leaders. There are
examples that stand out in my mind. For example,
Lisa began the project with a strong enthusiasm for
working with technology but not a strong skill set.
During our work together, Nigel and myself worked
with Lisa to teach her the technology in the learn-
ing centres. Lisa soon became confident enough in
her skills to teach CLC users about technology. At
the Akisq’nuk CLC, Brandy was personally affected
by a suicide in the community. She took her pain
from that experience and wrote a suicide prevention
article that was posted to the CLC to help others.
James, a Ktunaxa speaker, password protected each
CLC computer with a word in Ktunaxa and used that
as an opportunity to teach youth in his community
their traditional language. Nigel suggested music as
a healthy outlet of expression for youth in the com-
munity and turned this notion into a very success-
ful music recording workshop that was highly val-
ued. These examples and more are illustrated in the
above case studies. For me the notable thing about
them is that each had a positive effect on the CLC
leads in developing their leadership roles which led
to increased pride and ownership of the CLCs. This
commitment, dedication, and leadership inspired
other community members to value the CLCs.
A final notable success was my own develop-
ment as a researcher in a community-university
context. I quickly learned that my previous experi-
ence in leading research projects did not necessarily
transfer to the KCLC project. For example, schedul-
ing formal meetings with agendas and the expecta-
tion that the meeting begins and ends exactly on
schedule worked for other projects, but did not ne-
cessarily fit with KCLC. I really learned how to be
more flexible and understanding towards different
ways of approaching research. If there’s a death in
the community, you need to respect the commun-
ity’s way of coping, which may mean that everything
closes down for several days. There were many ex-
amples of things that I learned throughout the pro-
ject and I think it’s made me a more understanding,
respectful, and flexible person, both professionally
and personally.
Challenges faced
I experienced several challenges as well. When I first
became involved as the university lead, my role was
to provide research support to the leads as they co-
ordinated CLCs and conducted research with com-
munity members. What I didn’t know was that I
would also have to be a strong motivator for the
leads. I came on board just as the CLCs were “going
live.” There was quite a build up to this launch and
the community-university partners were extreme-
ly excited about the achievements to that point.
Unbeknownst to us, it would take a little bit longer
for the community itself to feel the momentum. The
leads were somewhat let down that the community
wasn’t as excited as we were. I knew that it would
take some patience and encouragement to foster and
support positive attitudes and this quickly became a
part of my job description. There was a real chal-
52 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
lenge in getting the community to access the CLCs
right after they opened, which led to the “launch
excitement” dissipating. As a more introverted laid
back personality, it was a learning curve for me to
become a positive, enthusiastic team member but I
knew that’s what I had to do.
Another challenge was adapting to changing
timelines. We had originally proposed to CIHR that it
would take six months for the CLCs to be developed;
in reality, we were still navigating the community
engagement process after six months. For me this
was a major challenge because I had to reconcile the
strong, authentic community engagement with the
externally imposed timeline of the project funders.
Since this was a three year funded project, many of
the milestones were difficult to achieve within our
original estimates. My role was to work between the
community and university partners, and the chal-
lenge was meeting those timelines from an external
funding perspective, but also supporting the great
things that were being done at each community site.
As we found out, there were many extra factors that
played into these changing timelines. For example,
the community engagement process (e.g., engaging
the right groups and being inclusive with commun-
ity members, staff, and councilors) needed time to
achieve buy-in. As well, the community lead pos-
itions were paid positions, but most of our other
community partners were contributing to KCLC on
the side of their desk and therefore we needed to be
sensitive to their work priorities. Another example
is that the lead positions were part-time and often
the leads had other part-time jobs, were taking an
education program, and/or raising a family as well.
There were many challenges regarding timelines,
which made it that much more meaningful when
the CLCs were successful.
Another challenge was related to the sometimes
restrictive nature of funding. KCLC was funded as
a research operating grant and therefore we were
restricted in our ability to purchase hardware, fur-
niture, etc. Our funding only supported human
resource costs and “expendables” (i.e., items that
could be used up before the project end date such
as stationary). If one of the community leads re-
quired a webcam, microphone, keyboard, etc., we
weren’t allowed to reimburse them for that. It was
unfortunate because these were things that might
have given them a little bit more motivation and I
had to say no. For example, we sent basic guides on
how to use information technology to each CLC and
when I asked Lisa where she was storing them, she
said they were piled up because she wasn’t able to
get a bookshelf from the project grant or the com-
munity. I think at times those things were discour-
aging — not having the flexibility to purchase items
for the CLCs.
Sometimes the CLCs’ physical location was a
challenge. For example, community members want-
ed certain health workshops (e.g., cooking classes)
that were not conducive to a room full of comput-
ers. As well, all three of the CLCs were only accessible
by stairs, which prevented people with disabilities
from using them. It wasn’t just the location of the
CLC but the facilities as well — like needing air con-
ditioning to keep the computers from overheating,
a security system which meant it had to be put on
the security grid, etc. It definitely taught us which
questions were important to ask.
One final challenge I will mention is the na-
ture of working at UBC — most procedures are very
structured and time consuming and don’t necessar-
ily support a community-university partnership or
match a community’s way of doing things. For ex-
ample, in order to obtain funding we had to create
a structured work plan with timelines, community
positions/hours, and pay rate well before we even
knew if this was feasible. We said we would identify
a research and a technical lead in each community,
but the limited number of community members
who were qualified/interested in the position made
this unrealistic.
Future directions
I find that the community-university partnerships
in KCLC are continually moving forward and de-
veloping. The expertise and personalities that every-
one brought to the project enabled us to build each
others’ capacity as KCLC coordinators. Personally,
I’ve developed a strong interest in the sustainability
aspect of community-university partnerships such
as KCLC. I experienced firsthand how much thought
Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 53
and planning is needed to sustain partnerships and
prevent the removal of an effective service after
funding ends. As we neared the end of the project
funding, and began to transition complete owner-
ship of the CLCs to the communities, I developed a
keen interest in seeing the CLCs sustained over time.
It was through this process that I became aware that
several factors influenced each CLC’s journey to sus-
tainability. My interest in understanding sustain-
ability issues, led me to pursue a master’s degree.
Identifying these factors and learning about their in-
tricate relationship with CLC success has continually
been an inspiration. I hope that my master’s work
can be applied to other community-university pro-
jects and/or First Nations contexts.
The current article has illustrated each community
and university lead’s perception of how the CLCs de-
veloped over time. Each CLC evolved differently de-
spite each community belonging to the same Nation.
This underscores the importance of community con-
text. Additionally, three key messages were found to
be critical across all cases in order to ensure mean-
ingful health education resource development. Each
key message is described below.
1. Technology-enabled communication tools facili-
tated successful university and community part-
ners’ communication during project development
and implementation.
Success with each CLC was partially due to open and
regular communication between university partners,
community partners, research leads, technical leads,
and community members. Early on, the team recog-
nized that CLC stakeholders lived across geographical
distances and with different cultural backgrounds.
Therefore a cooperative and respectful communica-
tion strategy was required. The university and com-
munity leads utilized many different tools to meet
regularly, including teleconferences, web conferences,
email, skype, and occasional face-to-face visits. These
were necessary to deal with administrative tasks, col-
laborate on education and training events, problem-
solve or simply share information. Regular contact
between the partners helped maintain the focus on
the project’s goals. In the Lower Kootenay CLC, Lisa
spoke to the benefits of receiving regular online sup-
port from Nigel as he helped her develop her tech-
nical skills. She also emphasized that collaboratively
creating research tools for community members was
a great way to stay in contact and bring the com-
munity leads from each CLC closer together to work
as a team. Openly communicating with community
members helped identify pertinent health educa-
tion needs within the community. For example, the
music technology workshop idea stemmed from the
leads talking to youth about how they could make
use of the CLCs. A need was identified to provide a
healthy outlet for creative expression. Because the
workshop was so closely related to a real community
need, the workshop was highly successful and had a
strong personal impact on Brandy and Nigel, as well
as many youth in the community. This idea is dis-
cussed further in the following message.
2. Community-based resources such as KCLCs should
meet community needs.
The CLCs would have been less successful if the leads
hadn’t effectively engaged community members
to identify their health education needs, then de-
veloped information and resources that addressed
those needs. The music workshop described above is
one example. Also, Nigel reported that at least one
person used the CLC every day, which was undoubt-
edly due to the fact that the CLC was adaptable to
meet individual community members’ needs. Nigel
installed a screen reader program to allow those
with visual impairments to access the CLC. He also
developed a Ktunaxa keyboard inlay, encouraging
community members to access the CLC in their
traditional language, which supported language use
and preservation. Brandy also identified a very im-
portant health priority within the communities, a
need for increased resources on suicide prevention.
By seeing the impact that suicide had on the com-
munity, and identifying a need to speak out about
the issue, the CLC became a place to help facilitate
the healing process.
3. Capacity building, training and support are neces-
sary for a sense of ownership and project success.
A very important factor in community-university
relationships is capacity building. The community
technology leads were responsible for maintaining
54 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
and updating CLC equipment, designing CLC web-
sites used to disseminate health information, main-
taining the websites with updated research articles,
calendar events, and other relevant information,
and supporting community members as they navi-
gated CLC technology. However, no community lead
started out with a strong knowledge base in each of
the above skills. Each lead discussed in great length
their personal development and capacity build-
ing throughout the project. For example Lisa built
her capacity as a technology lead. Even though she
began with limited knowledge around IT, receiv-
ing support from Nigel and attending a web design
workshop allowed her to support the CLC equip-
ment and website. Nigel, who started at the Aq’am
CLC with a basic level of knowledge in IT, speaks to
how much he learned throughout the project. He
emerged as the overarching technical lead by men-
toring other CLC technology needs, and now works
for the Aq’am Band to support all community staff
and their technology needs. Thus, his knowledge
and skills developed over time and continue to be
heavily valued within the community. Brandy be-
come involved in the CLC project because of an IT
course she took, and continued to build her know-
ledge base mentoring from James who taught her
about computers by taking one apart and putting it
back together again.
University partners also experienced capacity
building. It is important for university and com-
munity partners to discuss early in a project the
areas in which the community wants to build cap-
acity. Once university partners realized there was a
need for formal IT training, they worked to develop
a web design workshop for all KCLC staff and inter-
ested community members. Identifying knowledge
needs within a community and building in mech-
anisms to address those needs, supports capacity
building and enhances ownership and empower-
ment of community programs.
Sustainability and future directions
Prior to the end of project funding, all partners
discussed how each CLC and the community lead
employment positions would be sustained within
the three communities. Sustaining the centres de-
pended on a number of factors, including the avail-
ability of space within the community and whether
the community had the budget to pay for the com-
munity lead positions. Two of the three CLCs were
sustained after the funding period by commun-
ities who felt that they had value and who could
incorporate operational costs within their existing
budget. The Akisq’nuk CLC continues to be an active
resource within the community with James as the
technical lead. Brandy left her position on her own
accord shortly before the funding period ended.
The Aq’am CLC remained open for some time, and
eventually the physical space was converted to desk
space for community staff. The online CLC presence
still remains, and Nigel’s position has broadened
to provide technical support for the entire Aq’am
band — undoubtedly due to his skills learnt in KCLC.
Unfortunately the Lower Kootenay CLC was closed
as the space was converted into a much needed
home for troubled youth. Lisa is still employed by
the Lower Kootenay Band.
The CLC concept is also evolving to new geo-
graphical areas. A small amount of funding enabled
the UBC-Ktunaxa team to travel to the Yukon and
deliver community engagement knowledge sharing
workshops with several Yukon First Nations com-
munities. Members from the Ktunaxa Nation and
UBC team members will continue to assist in the de-
velopment of these new Yukon CLCs, by sharing les-
sons learned and best practices that have been trans-
lated into a number of tools. It is hoped that the
insights identified in this article can help translate
similar opportunities in other First Nations com-
munities in the future.
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research? Social Science & Medicine, 41(12), 1667–
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Ktunaxa Community Learning Centres: Unique Community Perspectives on the Development of Health Education 55
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and Hogan V. (2009). Partnering to empower com-
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Jarvis-Selinger, S., Ho, K., Novak Lauscher, H., and Bell, B.
(2008). Tl’azt’en learning circle: Information tech-
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Katherine Wisener (University of British
Katherine Wisener joined the eHealth Strategy Office
in September 2007 and is currently the project man-
ager for eMentoring: a four-year health education
program designed to support Aboriginal youth pur-
sue health careers. Katherine has a Master of Arts
Degree in the Human Development, Learning and
Culture program from UBC’s Faculty of Education.
Her research interests focus on understanding how
to best support learning and educational delivery
in an Aboriginal context, ultimately to improve
health outcomes. Katherine was the lead universi-
ty researcher on the Ktunaxa Community Learning
Centres project.
Nigel Warden (Aq’am Community Learning
Nigel Warden is a Ktunaxa Nation member and lives
in Cranbrook, BC. Nigel worked as the Technology
Lead for the Aq’am Community Learning Centre
from 2007-2009. During that time he supported
equipment needs and developed the health websites
for the CLC. Nigel’s IT skills developed throughout
the project and he now works as the IT specialist for
all Aq’am staff.
James N. White (Akisq’nuk Community
Learning Centre)
Born and raised in the ?akisqnuk First Nation
Community, a community situated in the Columbia
Valley along the Great Windermere lake. Joined
the CLC team September 2007, employed as the
Technical Lead , to provide technical and training
expertise for the Research Lead. My interests are
in reading, music, wood art, and computer related
stuff. Likes travelling by vehicle, don’t like flying.
Presently working for the ?akisqnuk First Nation.
Lisa Three Feathers (Lower Kootenay
Community Learning Centre)
Lisa Three Feathers is a Ktunaxa Nation member
currently living in Lower Kootenay Band located just
minutes south of Creston BC. Lisa is currently work-
ing as the Administrative Assistant for The Lower
Kootenay Band Office. She joined the Community
Learning Centre team in fall of 2007. Her role was
the Research Lead, which was to collect information
from the community and use it for the website. She
is a single mother who enjoys spending time with
her son. Some of her hobbies include Listening to
music, reading, watching movies, research using
the internet, driving, and mostly spend time with
Brandy Joe (Akisq’nuk Community Learning
Brandy Joe is a member of the Akisq’nuk First Nation
near Invermere, BC. Brandy worked as the Research
Lead for the Akisq’nuk Community Learning Centre.
She collected information and resources on a num-
ber of health priorities and made them available on
the CLC website. Specifically, she wrote a powerful
article on suicide prevention and helped to organize
56 © Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 10(1) 2012
a music technology workshop for Ktunaxa youth.
She has two children and enjoys music, writing and
Sandra Jarvis-Selinger (University of British
Sandra is an Assistant Professor in the Department
of Surgery and Associate Director in the eHealth
Strategy Office. She is a PhD-trained educational spe-
cialist and researcher in the area of Human Learning,
Development and Instruction (UBC Faculty of
Education). Her work focuses on educational innov-
ation and knowledge translation, which specifically
includes: 1) developing teaching excellence, 2) cur-
riculum design, development and evaluation, and
3) using technology to support education. Her re-
search supports the development, implementation,
and evaluation of effective educational approaches
in health education. Through knowledge translation,
innovative approaches, and respectful research part-
nerships, her research addresses positive curricular
change and effective lifelong learning by supporting
critical educational transitions.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Research strategies which emphasize participation are increasingly used in health research. Breaking the linear mould of conventional research, participatory research focuses on a process of sequential reflection and action, carried out with and by local people rather than on them. Local knowledge and perspectives are not only acknowledged but form the basis for research and planning. Many of the methods used in participatory research are drawn from mainstream disciplines and conventional research itself involves varying degrees of participation. The key difference between participatory and conventional methodologies lies in the location of power in the research process. We review some of the participatory methodologies which are currently being popularized in health research, focusing on the issue of control over the research process. Participatory research raises personal, professional and political challenges which go beyond the bounds of the production of information. Problematizing 'participation', we explore the challenges and dilemmas of participatory practice.
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Health Inequities and Social Determinants of Aboriginal Peoples' Health. Prince George: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health
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