Everyday ethics of participation: a case study of a CBPR in Nunavik

Fraser, S.; Mickpegak, R. ; Vrakas, G. ; Laliberté, A. (2017)

Global Health Promotion

25(1) | 82-90

Multiple reports highlight the need for community-based family-oriented prevention services for Aboriginal peoples in order to address important health and social inequalities. Participatory, empowerment-based approaches are generally favoured for these means. Faced with important social issues, in a context of colonisation and complex power dynamics, we question how community members experience participation, as well as the everyday dynamics that take place when attempting to create community-level change.

The initial steps of this community-based participatory research (CBPR) took place over a two-year period in a community of Nunavik, a large northern region of the province of Quebec. The objective of the CBPR was to develop a community-driven project aimed at supporting families to be able to keep children within their homes or communities, rather than having to be placed under child welfare services.

We participated in, and documented, various group meetings, community workshops, informal reflexive discussions, and formal interviews with community partners to explore their everyday experiences of participation in community-based change.

We describe some of the initial actions taken in this project. We describe how certain social and power dynamics infiltrated into the process of participation leading to various tensions, personal and interpersonal experiences and needs.

We discuss how these experiences led to everyday ethical dilemmas regarding participation. We conclude that although participatory approaches towards community change may be effective, they are also ethically challenging and at times disempowering for those who participate. We describe some of the approaches used to work with these ethical challenges.