Profile: Dolores LeVangie
With the support of the Robin Rigby Trust (RRT), Dolores lived on the island of Chiloé, Chile for four months and worked in partnership with the Williche Council of Chiefs’ Intercultural Health Program (WCCIHP).
Pictured to the left is Grand Chief of the Williche, Don Armando Llaitureo Manquemilla, and Dolores LeVangie during the Williche New Year celebration June, 2010.
Dolores was already familiar with the community; she had studied Williche uses of seaweed during a 2007 internship with the Institute of Island Studies
Her 2010 research in Chiloé made up the fieldwork segment of her Master of Arts degree in Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island. Dolores' thesis is entitled: Bridging 'Islands of Medicine': Balancing Medical Pluralism on la isla de Chiloé.
Dolores uses the relationship among health, economies and ecosystems on islands as a framework for gaining a different perspective on how medical pluralism occurs on islands. She studied the relationship between the public health care system and the community’s ancestral knowledge and remedies. The Council’s health program had been undergoing a trial implementation with various public health centres entitled: The Intercultural Complementary Health Care Program. The efforts of the two medical systems to create a program based on the needs (cultural and health) to serve indigenous and non-indigenous community members were explored in Dolores’ community based research. The model for the community’s integrated health care is based on the concept of Küme Mogen Rüpü [a path to balance]. This concept is a way for Williche people to express health. Use of local plants and seaweeds as ancestral remedies was found to make an important contribution to sustainability for communities and health promotion within the Chiloé archipelago. Dolores further explored how island health care delivery and concepts of wellness and disease have been affected by colonialism and neoliberal economies. Her research included interviews with members of the Council's health program; medical practitioners in the Public Health System; and health service employees with the government.
Dolores’ final report to the RRT emphasizes the importance of the researcher-community relationship: “As a researcher it is important to learn about the ethical considerations that indigenous groups have and to understand past situations and experiences that may have had a negative effect on the community. It is important to address these concerns.”
Dolores is currently a research coordinator with Dr. Lois Jackson at the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre and School of Human and Health Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS. In May 2013 she will graduate from the Master of Arts in Island Studies program at the University of Prince Edward Island.