Indigenous Health

The Firelight Group approaches Indigenous Health research from a holistic perspective, including recognition of the social determinants of health. It is important for our team to meet communities where they are and we take a strength-based approach to our work.

What We Do

The research we conduct ranges from environmental scans, assessments, evaluations of projects and programs, and Indigenous knowledge studies of health and wellness. Our work includes developing innovative research methods, including asset mapping methodology for Indigenous health and wellness, and developing mHealth (mobile health) data collection methods using open-source tools and mobile technologies.


Our team includes social scientists with decades of experience working alongside Indigenous communities; we are responsive and adaptive in our research process in a way that is respectful of the communities’ knowledge, needs, and desired outcomes. The Firelight Group has extensive experience working on social equity, social determinants of health and protective factors in a range of contexts within Canadian Indigenous Communities. Firelight team members also have deep experience working with Inuit communities conducting research into midwifery practices as well as Inuit health and food insecurity.

Capacity Building

We provide training on health research in Indigenous communities, helping to establish mechanisms for identifying, assessing, monitoring, and managing the issues that impact community wellbeing. Our experience of program evaluation has focused mainly on First Nations-led evaluations, and health care-related evaluations. Some examples of this include asset mapping training and teaching rural Ugandan women to collect data through mHealth (mobile health) training.


Rachel Olson
PhD Social Anthropology
Vancouver Office
Phone: (604) 563-2245

I have been taught by my elders that there is a direct connection between the health of our bodies and the health of the environment, and that we must approach everything fully understanding and respecting that connection. My work in growing the Firelight Indigenous Health research team is to recognize this balance, and to contribute to the revitalisation and restoration of Indigenous perspectives of health and wellness in communities across Canada. It is a privilege to do this work. Mahsi cho!

Dr Rachel Olson
Firelight Health Team Lead


Download eBook here.

Born into my Grandmothers Hands: Honouring First Nations’ Birth Knowledge and Practice in Northern Yukon

Rachel Olson PhD, Charlotte Moores, and Kathleen Cranfield, RM.

Yukon First Nations have a long history of birthing on the land with Indigenous midwives who held the birth knowledge necessary to safely deliver the next generations. Born into my Grandmother’s hands: Honouring First Nations’ birth knowledge and practice in North Yukon is a collection of stories and
knowledge that set out to explore the history of childbearing in the Yukon.

The main areas of focus in this book are stories of childbirth on the land; the history of traditional Indigenous midwifery and birthing practices; changes in maternity care, including relocation for childbirth; traditional parenting practices; and community values in relation to pregnancy and childbirth process.

Research and Data Collection for the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy

The National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy (NISPS) is a tool in assisting communities, policymakers and governments to work together to address the full breadth and complexity of both risk and protective factors known to help reduce suicide in our communities.

On the third anniversary of the release of NISPS, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami announced a research and data collection project (conducted by Firelight) and the launch of a website.

The report presents findings from an environmental scan that was undertaken to support NISPS objectives. The scan involved a review of both grey and academic literature, and a series of key informant interviews with individuals who have experience working on suicide prevention and related initiatives across Inuit Nunangat.

The Firelight Group

Research, policy, planning, mapping, negotiation, advisory, and capacity building services for Indigenous and local communities.


VICTORIA (250) 590-9017
EDMONTON (780) 760-1255


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