Jessica Dutton, PhD

Manager, Research Ethics and Regional Programs
South Slave Research Centre (Fort Smith)

Research Statement

As a social scientist working in the field of Public Health, I’m interested in the ways political, cultural, social, and structural factors impact human health behaviours. My graduate research explored food and the social factors that influence eating behaviours, the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples’ traditional food use, and the barriers and facilitators of diabetes self-management. Currently, my research addresses community-identified priorities in partnership with community organizations, Indigenous governments, policy-makers, and other key Northern stakeholders. Recent research topics include local food production, Northern food systems, sustainable traditional/country food use, benefits of digital technologies, Northern research ethics, and community wellness.

During my Master’s degree I trained in community-based research as an intern with the Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph. This approach has continued to shape the development of my research programs. In my work, I aim to source research questions from community members, organizations, businesses, and governments, then work collaboratively to design and carry out studies that are locally relevant and have a positive impact for my research partners. My areas of methodological expertise include community-based participatory research, qualitative methods, critical theory, postcolonial theory, and program evaluation.

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Current Projects

Research Capacity and Support Here (CASH) (2019-2020) – A research grant-writing workshop offered in partnership with Hotıì ts'eeda with funding from SSHRC to support Northern researchers. The workshop will focus on Tri-Council funding programs with the goal of increasing the success of Northern applicants.

Food Security and Climate Change in the Canadian North (2019-2023) – A research partnership with scholars at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo, Tłı̨chǫ Government and several NWT communities that aims to identify, develop and implement community-defined and -driven initiatives to enhance local capacity to plan for and address food security issues in the face of climate change and other stressors.

Indigenous Women and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs): Supporting an Empowered and Resilient North-South Community – A partnership with scholars at University of Alberta, Indigenous scholars from institutions in Canada, Chile, and Mexico, and Indigenous Women’s organizations across North and South America to co-develop and recommend ICT strategies and solutions to the priority areas that support Indigenous women.

DigitalNWT (2019-2022) – A community-based participatory project in partnership with the University of Alberta, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Gwich’in Tribal Council, and Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, designed to increase capacity to teach digital literacy skills across the NWT.

Research Ethics (ongoing) – I maintain an ongoing program of research in the field of research ethics, with particular interest in its application in Indigenous communities and community-level review. 

Significant Contributions

Dutton J. 2019. Modeling change to traditional food systems on the Northwest Territories: Findings from the "State of Country Food Systems in the NWT: Planning for Long-term Sustainability" study. ArcticNet Conference. Halifax, NS.

Dutton J. 2019. An urban and a northern REB perspective on applying Chapter 9 of the TCPS2. Canadian Association of Research Ethics Boards Conference. Winnipeg, MB

Dutton J. 2018. Lessons from stories of diabetes self-management: Enunciating culture in health decision-making in the third space. PhD Thesis, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.

Dutton J. 2017. Urban and northern perspectives on indigenous community engagement in human research ethics. Recorded oral presentation at the Canadian Association of Research Administrators West Conference, Victoria, BC.

Dutton J. 2017.Telling the story of diabetes: Understanding how cultural identity impacts diabetes management. Community oral presentation of research findings. Fort Smith, NT.

Dutton J, and Sellwood C. 2017. Home grown harvest: Guide to mapping the local food market in NWT communities. Available from the Aurora Research Institute, Inuvik, NT. 

Dutton J. 2010. First come, first served: Post-colonial barriers to traditional food consumption in Aboriginal communities. MA Thesis, Department of Political Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.