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A drowning prevention policy framework
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In this work, I demonstrate the novel application of the “ʈiič-mɑɫ-ɴi” (living and surviving with water) teaching to a practical challenge, at this time, there is no drowning prevention policy in Canada. Through a narrative-research-design, I conducted sixteen research interviews with aquatic professionals, Indigenous community members who live in aquatic contexts, and people working within Indigenous-health-leadership (2021-09-20 to 2022-08-04). The primary exploratory research question is, “How can First Nations or Indigenous populations or communities be supported in the areas of injury and drowning prevention programming?”. This work resulted in eight principles. 1. Colonization is a probable contributor to the inequity in drowning mortality. 2. Historical relationships with water have been disrupted by colonization, segregation, geographic relocation, poverty of opportunity, socioeconomic inequity, cultural barriers, racism, and lateral aggressions. 3. Community needs assessments and lived experiences and data should inform prevention efforts. 4. Community members should be leaders, teachers, and facilitators. 5. Measures of success should be determined by the community. 6. Community skill building, resilience, safety recreation and emergency response may be considered key objectives. 7. Mutual respect building with the 5 elements teaching, and community-members should be core values. 8. Address unintentional injury (drowning) as a public-health issue and a specific cause of death in First Nations communities causing excess mortality. The author shall continue to consult with multi-sectorial stakeholders to address real-world gaps in knowledge and priority areas that inform a drowning prevention policy framework.