Congratulations to Karen Kopciuk and her colleagues on their CIHR success!

Dr. Karen Kopciuk and colleagues Dr. Huiming Yang, Dr. Angeline Letendre, and Ms. Reagan Bartel will study how: Nishtohtamihk li kaansyr (Understanding Cancer): Cancer Screening, Outcomes and Experiences among Métis People in Alberta


Congratulations to Karen Kopciuk and her colleagues on their CIHR success!

Prepared for the Institute by Karen Kopciuk, PhD
Research Scientist, Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research, Cancer Care Alberta


The Métis people are a culturally and genetically distinct group that displays different patterns of cancer morbidity and mortality from First Nations (FN) and Inuit people. They have a higher prevalence of hypertension, heart disease and cancer compared with FN in Alberta, for instance. Métis people compared with non-Indigenous people also have higher incident rates for female breast and cervical cancer, as well other cancers; however colorectal cancers were lower in females but comparable in males. Despite a decade old call for a better understanding regarding the uptake and outcomes of cancer screening amongst Indigenous people, there is essentially no data related to the Métis population. 

Alberta is an ideal setting due to its large Métis population and being home to the only land-based Métis Settlement communities within Canada. Previous research, seldom co-led with Métis people themselves, has resulted in only the application of Western research and perspectives. This does little to identify the health inequities of Métis people based on their lived experiences and perhaps even less to provide a foundation for the creation of solutions inclusive of the health philosophies, lived realities and community knowledge.

This study represents a first collaborative partnership between AHS Screening Programs and Alberta Métis leadership and communities that will provide important data related to accurately assessing and verifying the uptake, effectiveness, and timeliness of screening among Métis people. As an important first step toward addressing concerns from an evidence-based perspective, understanding Indigenous perspectives will help to transform current programming to increase uptake of primary and secondary strategies for the prevention of cancers among Métis people in Alberta.

Working with the Métis Nation of Alberta, this co-designed study will evaluate cancer screening outcomes from the perspectives of Métis Albertans and Alberta (AB) cancer screening programs in three phases.  Phase one will utilize a systems-level approach to quantify screening uptake and follow-up care amongst Métis people across Alberta and reveal inequities experienced by these populations when compared to their non-Métis AB counterparts. Phase two will evaluate barriers and facilitators to cancer screening for Métis Albertans through questionnaires especially designed to consider their lived realities. A third phase will build on the knowledge learned from Phase one and two to explore themes related to the knowledge, attitudes, intentions and experiences with cancer screening. This work will take place during small community gatherings in a future project.

This study will provide a significant opportunity to bridge the knowledge-to-action gap between cancer screening programs and services that Métis people in Alberta require to increase rates of screening and improve cancer outcomes. It will inform future planning for culturally safe and appropriate cancer screening service delivery to Métis and other Indigenous populations in Alberta.