(Dec. 8, 2020) Laurentian University is pleased to congratulate the team behind Aaniish Naa Gegii: the Children's Health and Well-being Measure (ACHWM). This initiative is a direct result of the dynamic partnership between Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre and the Evaluating Children's Health Outcome (ECHO) Research Centre at Laurentian University. Alongside the re-launch of the organization's website. The launch was timed to coincide with the celebration of National Child Day, November 20.
This initiative is a testament to the years of research, hard work, and leadership of Research Chair Dr. Nancy Young, Naandwechige-Gamig Health Services Director Mary Jo Wabano, and their devoted teams. The journey began in 2009 when Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory and Laurentian University initiated an active collaboration to create a new measure for Indigenous children. They have since developed ACHWM, a tablet based app and website where community leaders can access information and statistics.
The app is a culturally relevant measure of health and well-being for Indigenous children aged between eight and eighteen years old. Created with the children and for the children, the tablet-based app serves as a catalyst for discourse, services, and possibly future funding. Some of its functions include health assessment, program evaluation, and mental health screening. All the work that has gone into the creation of this app was made possible by funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Ontario, and a grant from AMS/OSSU. Its goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous children.
Currently the services provided through the website and app are intended to help community leaders support children between eight and eighteen, however, a model that could work for younger children between three and seven years old is in development. Additionally, the team has been working on creating a model for adults, for instance Indigenous students in postsecondary education.
“I commend Dr. Young, Mary Jo Wabano and their team for the years of hard work that has led to the creation of this app. It’s extremely rewarding to see this continued partnership with Naandwechige-gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre and the many participating Indigenous communities.The relationships built through this important work truly speak to the aspirations established in Laurentian University's 2018-2023 Strategic Plan and our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.”
Robert Haché, President and Vice-Chancellor of Laurentian University
“Our goal is to make sure this supports wellness for all Indigenous children and youth [Inuit, First Nation, and Métis]. It started off being about planning and evaluating in the community and along the way we discovered that we need to help each child in the process. There are no financial barriers for communities that want to use this, whether it’s for 5 children or 500.”
Dr. Nancy L. Young, Director of the School of Rural and Northern Health and Research Chair
“I am passionate about making sure the children of our community [Wiikwemkoong] and now communities across Canada have access to services to support their needs and fill in the gaps. This will give us a better sense of what we can do as a community to collectively support our children towards maintaining balance in life, maintaining wellness. This is my driving force: it’s all for the children.”
Mary Jo Wabano, Health Services Director, Naandwechige-Gamig Wikwemikong Health Centre
“There is such an incredible team working tirelessly to create mindful resources that make sense and work for Indigenous people. We have such a vast team, I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Mia Bourque BA (hons) / MA Candidate, ACHWM Community and Culture Liaison, Evaluating Children’s Health Outcomes (ECHO) Research Centre, Laurentian University