By Bobinec, Greg on September 10, 2018.
Two researchers at the University of Lethbridge won Parkland Institute awards for their research projects on the use of gallows humour in the Kainai, and one on midwifery care in Alberta.
Amberlea Parker, a graduate student, plans to develop an oral history of gallows humour among the Kainai people, while Tiffany Boulton, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology, will examine access to midwifery care in Alberta.
Parker, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Cultural, Social and Political Thoughts, plans to talk with Kainai Elders and younger generation in their 20s and 30s about gallows humour. Gallows humour can be defined as grim and ironic humour used in desperate or hopeless situations. An example from the Kainai people is Everett Soop, a syndicated comic artist who used Indigenous experiences in his political cartoons.
“The Kainai people have been dealing with settler colonization and the residential schools,” says Parker, in a press release. “We’re talking about traumas that are alive and well today. It is important to look at how humour has been employed by Blackfoot Elders and youths to see how it has changed among the generations, how residential schools and colonization affected elders and how the younger generation uses humour.”
The Blackfoot people used oral history and tradition as teaching tools and passed down stories long before first contact. Parker continues that custom with her own oral history project.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) came out with recommendations to place the First Nations at the centre of reconciliation, so it is my personal mandate to make sure that my work and my thesis reflect that,” says Parker. “This award is a really nice confirmation of how my hard work and passion has paid off and how important it is.”
Parker hopes to speak with around 30 Kainai members, both Elders and university aged youth, about how they use their humour. When she analyzes the data, she will be looking for themes, differences in the way the two groups use humour, and how that related to the recommendations from the TRC.
Tiffany Boulton became interested in midwifery care when she was working with Claudia Malacrida on a research project on childbirth choices in Alberta. Their research showed how women reported more positive childbirth experiences with midwives than physicians, with her own experience with midwifery care to provide the point.
“With a midwife, you have a continuity of care that you’re not guaranteed with a physician,” says Boulton, in a press release. “You get to develop a relationship with you midwife – you see them throughout your pregnancy, they’re there for the birth and they’re with you for six weeks post-partum.”
In Alberta, the wait lists for a midwife are long and most midwives work in and around Calgary and Edmonton. Midwifes attend about five per cent of births in Alberta, where in British Columbia and Ontario, they attend around 20 per cent of births respectively. The Lethbridge region has only two midwives, both working out of Cardston.
Boulton plans to interview midwives about the length of their wait lists, who they serve, who they see as being under served and challenges they face in their practices. She will also be conducting a policy analysis at local, regional and provincial levels.
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