CIHR invests $8-M in Indigenous health researchers

Health was a key issue among the 94 calls to action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In particular, the TRC called on all levels of government to increase the number of Indigenous peoples working in the health care field.

This week, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are investing $8M to form a cross-country mentorship network for First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples considering a career in health research.

Barriers to entry have resulted in a shortage of Indigenous health professionals in Canada.

The benefits of bringing more First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples into the health profession include providing health care that is more culturally sensitive and which encourages Indigenous peoples to access health care services.

“This investment is an acknowledgment both of the great potential of our Indigenous early career investigators and of the importance of passing on knowledge from one generation to the next,” said Dr.  Carrie Bourassa, scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. “The ripples that we are creating today supporting young Indigenous investigators will be felt for years to come.”

The Indigenous Mentorship Network Program aims to support the next generation of Indigenous health researchers by providing distinctive learning opportunities and specially tailored mentoring activities to Indigenous students at the undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and post-doctoral levels, as well as Indigenous researchers in the beginning phase of their careers.

The investments from CIHR will fund networks of eight teams, one each in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic provinces, as well as a national/international coordinating centre.

IMNP activities should complement core coursework or degree programs and early career responsibilities in research design, methodology, and other core content areas.

To achieve these objectives, activities may include:

  • Consultation with trainees and New Investigators to create a community of mentors and support networks to exchange ideas and best practice on mentoring
  • Combining resources with leading institutions active in Aboriginal health research
  • Hosting events to stimulate face-to-face learning
  • Setting up web-based tools and approaches for ongoing support

“I am proud to announce the launch of this network to help build capacity for the next generation of Indigenous health researchers,” Philpott said in a statement. “In working towards reconciliation, it is vital that we break down barriers and provide more opportunities for Indigenous peoples to enter careers in the health field.”


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