Behind the Science: Health Access of Indigenous Women

July 15, 2022

Interviewee: Chelsey Perry, M.S.c, Simon Fraser University, Authors/Editors: Negin Nia & Romina Garcia de leon (Blog Co-coordinators)

Published: July 15th, 2022

This week the WHRC spoke to Chelsey Perry, who is focusing her master’s work and research with the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE) to examine social and structural factors that influence health access of Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people. Perry has been working on several projects aiming to make a change in a colonial health system, and to amplify Indigenous voices. Read more about their work below.

Could you please tell us about the work that you do with the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity?

I started my master's degree at SFU last year and before that I started working on some projects in the summer at the CGSHE. They were about decolonizing Indigenous research methodologies and creating training for researchers who want to get involved in Indigenous research with the CGSHE and Vancouver Coastal Health. 

On the other hand, I am also working on projects with the SHAWNA (Sexual Health & HIV/AIDS: Longitudinal Women’s Needs Assessment) and AESHA (An Evaluation of Sex Workers Health Access) cohorts housed at CGSHE. In these projects we have pulled the Indigenous data from those two cohorts to specifically look at Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people's experiences throughout the COVID 19 pandemic.This was to make sure that we are accurately and appropriately looking at the data from an Indigenous lens. And, also to inform on social and structural inequities during the course of the pandemic. 

My work specifically focuses on access to routine health care for Indigenous women, and gender-diverse people during the pandemic. But, also how Indigenous communities have come together and how that's impacted access to health services among Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people.

And how does this tie into your master’s thesis?

My master's work is nested within a larger project called the Amplify project at CGSHE, which looks at equitable and culturally safe sexual and reproductive health services among Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and gender-diverse people. This is where my master's work and my research work are really intertwined. My master's research focuses on that access to routine health care, access to sexual reproductive, and health services. But I also do work on other projects for the Amplify project and the AESHA cohort as well. 

What got you interested in this type of research in the field of women’s health?

I have always been interested in health research because of my family experiences and just wanting to make change in a colonial health system. There is a lot of room to bridge gaps between a colonial health system and Indigenous ways of knowing. I have mixed Nisga’a, Haida, Scottish and French ancestry and I'm a member of the Nisga’a First Nation – and I think my varying identities can bring a unique perspective to this work.

I also believe that it is so important to be amplifying Indigenous voices to inform actionable change — and I want to be a part of supporting change. And I really wanted to work with the supervisors I'm working with, because they have all been doing excellent work within this field and really inspire me. 

What are some long-term goals for your research?

In my thesis research, each objective is tied to the calls to action and recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation, In Plain Sight, and the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls reports. So, this research addresses calls to action and recommendations from these reports to look at gaps within health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples as well as social and structural factors that impact Indigenous women, Two-Spirit and gender diverse peoples health.

I hope this research will support policy changes to address the urgent need for culturally safe care and anti racism legislation, here in BC, but also broader in Canada, too. And to address health gaps that are caused by social and structural inequities.

Where can people find you and your work?

People can learn more about me and my work @chelseyllperry on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

Blog Author(s)

  • Blog
  • Equity
  • Indigenous
  • Indigenous health
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • LGBTQIA2s+
  • Sexual health
  • women's health

First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

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