Odeminiwin: Understanding and Supporting Childhood Stimulation in an Algonquin Community

  • Rebecca Marian Thorne McGill University
  • Mary Ellen Macdonald McGill University
  • Christine Thivierge Health Canada
  • Georgina Whiteduck Rapid Lake
  • Serge Vignola Health Canada


Legacies of colonialism have been associated with risk factors for delayed childhood development in Aboriginal communities in Canada. In the Algonquin community of Rapid Lake (Québec, Canada), the maternal-child nurse carries out regular screening for developmental delay in children (0-66 months) using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). The aim of this project was to explore parenting practices and cultural traditions regarding childhood stimulation in this community as well as primary caregivers’ perceptions of the use of the ASQ. Using a Community Based Participatory Research framework, we conducted a focused ethnography over four months, which included 28 participants. Outcomes of our research included the development of a stimulation activity for families involving all generations in the community, incorporating traditional parenting practices and language, and promoting a safe learning environment. Results can be used to support efforts towards community-driven childhood development services in other Aboriginal communities. 

Keywords: childhood development, Aboriginal, parenting practices, cultural traditions, ASQ, stimulation

Author Biographies

Rebecca Marian Thorne, McGill University

Rebecca Thorne, BA&Sc, MScN, RN has completed her Masters of Nursing at McGill University. As part of this program she was accepted into the Global Health stream and spent four months in Rapid Lake completing this project and a clinical placement. Her primary interests lie in maternal child nursing and she is currently working in the NICU of the Montreal Children's Hospital. Ms. Thorne's experiences in Rapid Lake have strengthened her interests in working with Aboriginal communities within this field.

Mary Ellen Macdonald, McGill University

Mary Ellen Macdonald, PhD, is a medical anthropologist in the Division of Oral Health and Society, Faculty of Dentistry, McGill University. With a primary focus on the health needs of underserved populations, her main areas of research include access to services for urban Aboriginal peoples in Montreal, and the health needs of Aboriginal peoples in Northern Quebec. Other areas of  her research include palliative care, with a focus on family bereavement after the loss of a child.

Christine Thivierge, Health Canada
 Christine Thivièrge, RN, is a nurse at the Kitiganik Health Clinic in Rapid Lake, Quebec. She is currently the director of the maternal child and school health programs at the clinic. Her passion lies within assisting to create community driven activities and programs that draw on local resources and expertise. She is involved in the training and career development of local Aboriginal health care workers.
Georgina Whiteduck, Rapid Lake
Georgina Whiteduck has been the Maternal-Child Community Health Worker at the Kitiganik Health Clinic in Rapid Lake, Quebec since 2009. She runs many community driven programs around parenting and child health through the clinic and plays a vital role in accompanying families from the community in navigating the health care services available to them. she recently completed her doula certification and now accompanies women from the community throughout their entire pregnancies and during labour and delivery at outside hospitals.
Serge Vignola, Health Canada
Serge Vignola, RN, has been the head nurse of the Kitiganik Health Clinic in Rapid Lake, Quebec, since 2004. In 1986 he took a nursing position with Health Canada in an isolated Aboriginal community in northern Quebec, and has since pursued a nursing career focused on remote and isolated Aboriginal community health. In 2008 he was involved in developing a partnership between the Kitiganik Health Clinic and the McGill School of Nursing, which has since resulted in a four month student nurse placement every fall. He is committed to assisting local Aboriginal health workers develop, implement, and sustain health promotion and prevention programming in an effort to ultimately improve the health of Rapid Lake community members.
How to Cite
Thorne, R. M., Macdonald, M. E., Thivierge, C., Whiteduck, G., & Vignola, S. (2016). Odeminiwin: Understanding and Supporting Childhood Stimulation in an Algonquin Community. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 11(1). Retrieved from https://fpcfr.com/index.php/FPCFR/article/view/291