Implementing Community-Engaged Participatory Research Methods in a Study of Cree Women’s Wellness: Describing Recruitment Processes and Outcomes


  • Nitya Khetarpal Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Science, University of Alberta
  • Luwana Listener Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta
  • Richard Oster Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta
  • Sue Ross Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta
  • Cora Voyageur Department of Sociology, University of Calgary



Background: In 2017, the Sohkitehew Group was funded to undertake research to identify wellness strategies adopted by mature women as they age in the rural Cree community of Maskwacis, Alberta. We describe our recruitment processes and outcomes for events from July 2017 to June 2018, the first phase of this research.

Methodology: Data gathered from minutes of 36 Sohkitehew Working Group and two Elders Advisory Committee meetings were used to identify recruitment strategies, event characteristics and recruitment outcomes for two large community events and three Sharing Circles.

1. Recruitment strategies: Strategies were similar for community events and Sharing Circles: event posters were displayed throughout Maskwacis, and advertisements were broadcast by Hawk Radio and appeared in Band newsletters.
2. Event Characteristics: Settings included a large community gymnasium for large events, and smaller community venues in different Bands for Sharing Circles. Traditional/cultural protocols were addressed by smudging meeting spaces, inviting community Elders to attend all events, and saying prayers. Healthy lunches were provided.
3. Event attendance: The two larger community events attracted 96, and 37 participants, respectively. Sharing Circle attendance ranged from 8 to 23 participants.

Conclusion: Recruitment strategies succeeded for the Sohkitehew events in Maskwacis. Prior trusting and respectful relationships with the community established over several years provided a firm basis for this research. Successful recruitment efforts required time, planning, flexibility, and careful attention to culture and tradition to meet objectives to attract participants. Similar strategies may be successful in other rural Indigenous communities if tailored for the specific needs and expectations of individual communities.






Health Sciences