Indigenous health practitioners have a new home at the University of British Columbia, sparking renewed engagement with Indigenous peoples and communities across B.C. and beyond.
The UBC Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health (CEIH), which opened at the start of this year, will serve as a single point of contact within the university for support, training and resources for Indigenous health. It will also be the primary conduit for Indigenous communities that want to connect with UBC, its programs and health researchers.
“We want to increase the research capacity in Indigenous health and to empower community members to do their own research, setting their own priorities,” says CEIH co-director Nadine Caron.
Part of the UBC’s Aboriginal strategic plan, the Centre aims to boost research projects addressing Aboriginal health at the university as well as increasing collaborative projects with Indigenous communities across the province, and developing partnerships with the B.C. First Nations Health Authority and other Indigenous organizations.
Support for Indigenous students is also part of the Centre’s mandate. “Current students here at UBC, and also elementary and high school students, need support, role modeling, mentorship and programming,” says Caron.
The CEIH will build upon programs already in place at UBC, including the summer science program, a one-week camp for Aboriginal students in Grades 8 to 11, and the UBC Learning Circle, a webinar and videoconference series that focuses on Indigenous health. An Indigenous speaker series with the School of Population and Public Health, where the Centre is based, began in March.
“The health disparities that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians are persistent,” said CEIH co-director Martin Schechter. “The Centre will work to find ways to advance the health of Indigenous people, leading to better outcomes for patients.”
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To read more about Nadine Caron and the Centre, click here.
The Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health is housed in the multi-disciplinary UBC School of Population and Public Health, in the Faculty of Medicine. It will be the single coordinating point for Aboriginal related health initiatives within UBC, as well as a contact for health organizations external to UBC. Working with Aboriginal leadership across British Columbia and the country, the CEIH will endeavour to improve wellness, health care and outcomes for Aboriginal patients, and will generally advance the health of Aboriginal people through innovative thinking, research and education.
The CEIH’s key goals are the recruitment and education of Indigenous students in the health professions to address persistent health disparities, to promote self-determination by increasing Aboriginal leadership in health and health care, and the provision of the training necessary for all health professionals to work more effectively with Aboriginal people and organizations. The CEIH will offer strategic co-ordination and guidance to functions already operating in many UBC locations, and provide assistance in developing initiatives that would otherwise be difficult to develop or maintain across units.
The UBC Committee of Health Deans and the First Nations Health Authority currently provides funding for Centre activities.
Dr. Gavin Stuart, dean of the Faculty of Medicine and vice provost, health
“This new Centre will allow us to build synergies across our many diverse Indigenous health initiatives. By working with the First Nations Health Authority and other institutions in British Columbia, we will increase the number of Aboriginal students aiming to become health professionals, broaden our curriculum in Aboriginal health, and deepen our knowledge of the health challenges facing Aboriginal people.”
Dr. Linc Kesler, director of the First Nations House of Learning and senior advisor to the UBC president on Aboriginal affairs
“The Centre is replacing older and more marginalized structures with a more stable and sustainable home in which faculty and staff can do even greater work. The Centre strengthens the university’s long-standing commitment to Aboriginal engagement.”
Dr. David Patrick, professor and director, School of Population and Public Health
“We’re looking forward to learning more about health with indigenous scholars and students. On a crowded, warming and ecologically stressed planet – we need a worldview rooted in the environment. Indigenous people teach us how to move beyond our focus on treating disease to consider what gives us good health in the first place.”