Heather Foulds, Assistant Professor, Ph.D.

College of Kinesiology
University of Saskatchewan

Heather Foulds, Ph.D. (she/her/hers), is a member of Métis Nation-Saskatchewan. Her family comes from the Métis communities of Bresaylor and Langemeade, Saskatchewan. She is an Assistant Professor in the College of Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan and the Heart & Stroke/CIHR Indigenous Early Career Women’s Heart and Brain Health Chair. Dr. Foulds is Co-Scientific Director of the mamawiikikayaahk (Healing together) Métis Research Network of the Saskatchewan NEIHR. Her research partners with Métis communities to evaluate the importance of cultural connections, identity and social support as determinants of cardiovascular disease for Métis People, and how Métis dancing can improve health and wellbeing. Heather Foulds co-authored “Social determinants associated with physical activity among Indigenous adults at the University of Saskatchewan”. Her research focuses on determinants of cardiovascular disease, particularly among women and Indigenous populations.

Historic political relationships, government engagement, assimilation policies and social experiences impacts on the health of Indigenous and diverse populations

Colonization, including assimilation policies and practices, continues to disrupt cultures, traditions, identities, and social and community structures of Indigenous Peoples, with far reaching impacts on health and wellbeing including mental, physical, emotional and social health. Diverse populations, including gender diverse, racialized and LGBTQ2SA+ peoples also experience disparate health inequities tied social experiences. Within the three recognized Indigenous identities in Canada: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, there are hundreds of distinct and diverse nations and communities, each with their own history, culture, and experiences. Understanding and addressing health inequalities experienced by Indigenous Peoples requires specific approaches and partnerships with distinct Indigenous nations, recognizing the unique culture, identity and experiences of the partnering Indigenous community. Similarly, distinct and diverse genders, racialized peoples and LGBTQ2SA+ peoples experience unique health, health determinants and social circumstances, with different approaches and strategies needed to improve health equity among each diverse community. One study partnering with Indigenous Peoples in Saskatchewan identified associations of discrimination experiences with physical activity participation among Métis adults. Specific to Cree/Nehiyawak First Nations, community and family support, family experiences in foster care, perceptions of support and discrimination experiences were associated with physical activity. Another study identified depression associations with experiences of microaggressions among LGBTQ2SA+ students of European-descent, and experiences of victimization among racialized LGBTQ2SA+ students. These examples highlight the influence of government initiatives, assimilation policies, and social experiences in health and health behaviours among Indigenous Peoples and diverse populations, and the importance of recognizing distinct communities and identities within these diverse populations.