Supporting Men/Two-Spirit Folks Along their Journey to Becoming Fathers: A Community-led and Father-driven Approach

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

Amy Wright is a Nurse Practitioner, is the Nominated Principal Applicant, and Assistant Professor at Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto. Dr. Wright’s research focuses on equitable access to health care with expertise in qualitative and community-based research methodologies. Dr. Wright has eight years of experience collaborating with Indigenous communities. Her research includes several Tri-Agency funded projects, and this project was co-created with Indigenous parents and service providers.

Purpose of this research project

The purpose of this research project is to develop a parenting program by and for Indigenous fathers and Two Spirit parents to support their parenting and promote the healthy development of their children. In future, the Program can be adapted for use by other Indigenous and LGBT2SQ communities, having a national and global impact on the wellbeing of Indigenous families.

Early childhood development is critical for a healthy life trajectory and supporting parents during this time is critical to healthy parenting and promoting the healthy development of children. In particular, the impact of fathers and their infants has been demonstrated to lower infant mortality rates, decrease risks of cognitive delay, improve parent-infant attachment and reduce parental depression. The role of Indigenous fathers in the lives of their infants is less understood. Colonization has disrupted traditional parenting roles leaving few resources to conceptualize fatherhood and its associated responsibilities. Additionally, we have found no studies to describe the parenting experiences of Two Spirit folks who identify as fathers. Our partners at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre (HRIC), the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IDHC) in Niagara and Six Nations, and the Six Nations Birthing Centre (SNBC), each responsible for the delivery of a large number of Indigenous-led programs, acknowledge the absence of locally available prenatal programs that adequately address the needs of Indigenous fathers. In their experience, this has resulted in limited access to the education, peer support and positive role models that fathers desire to effectively transition to and enact their new role. Together, a pre-planning group consisting of Indigenous community members and partner organizations have designed this proposal to create a community-developed program to meet the parenting needs of Indigenous fathers as they transition to their new role.

In a scoping study on the role of Indigenous fathers in meeting the health needs of their
infants, we found that Indigenous men take a journey to becoming fathers, and that
supportive parenting programs developed for and by fathers are severely lacking globally yet an important way to support healthy parenting and early childhood development.

This 3-phased project takes an Indigenous community-led and gender-focused approach. While the literature suggests that Indigenous fathers are adopting contemporary parenting styles, they long to regain traditional roles and value integrating culture and spiritual wellbeing into their parenting. Phase 1 involves gaining a thorough understanding of fathers’ and Two Spirt parents’ needs during their journey to parenthood. Phase 2 is a community-led development of a Parenting Program for Fathers. Phase 3 will see the implementation of a pilot Program and its evaluation. This project will fill a current gap in services for Indigenous men and Two Spirit folks by supporting them in their parenting and promoting the healthy development of children. In future, the Program can be adapted for use by other Indigenous communities, having a national and global impact on the wellbeing of Indigenous families.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

Little research exists on parenting programs by and for Two-Spirit parents that meet their unique parenting needs and support healthy development of their children as members of a marginalized community. As a community-led, participatory study, our project facilitates meaningful engagement of Two Spirit folks by including a Two Spirit person on our Advisory Board (currently recruiting to the Board).


Two-Spirit parents with a child younger than 3 years old. Two-Spirit parents who live in the Hamilton/Niagara/Brantford/Six Nations area.


Participants will receive a $50 gift card as a token of appreciation.

Mitigation measures

Participants may experience psychological/emotional risks and/or social risks as members of the LGBT2SQ community. While participants will be informed that answering any and all questions in the interview is completely voluntary, and no questions are traumatic in nature, sharing their experiences may be traumatic. This risk is mitigated through the involvement of community members on the Advisory Board, including members from the LGBT2SQ community who share a cultural understanding with the participants. Additional supports (by way of websites/phone numbers) will be provided to all participants in the letter of information/consent form for anyone who wishes to discuss their feelings following the interview.

Promoting the Study

Our partner organizations (i.e., Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle, Six Nations Health Centre - Birthing Centre) will help to promote the study by distributing our recruitment flyer to their clients and networks. The recruitment flyer will be posted in local newspapers and community newsletters and our project website, and the social media flyer will be used on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Interested participants will be instructed by the flyers to contact the research coordinator, who will screen the participant for eligibility. We’ve consulted with Two Spirit people and they are recruiting through their networks. The study will also be promoted through word of mouth by inviting potential participants to identify others who may fit the eligibility criteria and invite them to contact the research coordinator directly.