Cuts to Aboriginal Health Research

What are the impacts of cuts to Aboriginal health research? Creative Commons Photo Credit: Flicker image by apoxapox

What are the impacts of cuts to Aboriginal health research? Creative Commons Photo Credit: Flicker image by apoxapox

The Question
Given recent cuts to Aboriginal health research, how does the government plan to include Aboriginal expertise, opinions, lived realities, values, and traditional practices in public health research?
The Background
In 2012 the Canadian Government cut funding to the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). More recently they have proposed cuts to the Institute for Aboriginal Peoples Health (IAPH). What impact will these cuts have on health research by and for Aboriginal community members? The Public Health Agency of Canada claims to be promoting health equity and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are championing a model of “two-eyed seeing” designed to balance the strengths of both Western science and Aboriginal ways of understanding health. Such efforts are crucial for ensuring the development and implementation of culturally sensitive and culturally appropriate policies and health interventions. These are admirable goals, since Aboriginal health research can only be successful if it is based on mutual respect, co-equal power relations, and collaboration between Aboriginal community members and healthcare professionals.  What will happen to Aboriginal knowledge in health research as CIHR begins to phase out its Aboriginal-specific peer review process? What is Canada doing to foster a research culture that takes seriously the unique social, political and environmental factors contributing to major Aboriginal health concerns? See below for more information.
Your Letter to Federal Scientists and Ministers
Dear Dr. Nicolas Gilbert,

Your research on stillbirth and infant mortality rates within Aboriginal communities in Quebec highlights some of the unique challenges facing researchers charged with understanding and communicating health risks and best practices to Canadian Aboriginal populations. As your work points out, Aboriginal communities “are disadvantaged in relation to the rest of the province’s population” (Gilbert et al. 2015: 6) in terms of maternal and infant health. Your research comes at a troubling time when Aboriginal issues seem to be underrepresented in Canadian health research. With recent cuts to funding for the National Aboriginal Health Organization and the Institute for Aboriginal Peoples Health, it is unclear how systemic issues such as poverty, education, lack of access to public health resources, and other social determinants of health can be addressed and overcome if Aboriginal community members are not actively engaged in the research process itself.

Given your role as a senior epidemiologist working for the Public Health Agency of Canada, what are the impacts of these cuts on your efforts to include of Aboriginal expertise, opinions, lived realities, values, and traditional practices in your research? With these cuts how can we guarantee that Aboriginal community members are actively involved in the process of defining both health risks and best practices in Canadian health research?

I am writing this email as part of Write2Know (http://write2know.ca) a letter-writing campaign that aims to mobilize public awareness and inquiry into federal research programs. We want to let you know that we value federal science and scientists, and that our questions arise out of genuine concerns about the health and well-being of Canadians.

We remain concerned about the legacy of constraints on access to federal scientists and the results of their research, the elimination of essential research programs, and the closure of libraries and archives. These constraints and closures have impacted what Canadians can and cannot know about the health of their bodies, communities, and environments. We are hopeful that a new government will address our concerns.

We are posing questions to federal scientists about their research and findings, and forwarding our letters to federal Ministers and Members of Parliament to call attention to serious gaps between scientific evidence and government policy.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

cc

Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health
Hon. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women

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Add your Signature to the Letter on Cuts to Aboriginal Health

Dear Dr. Nicolas Gilbert,

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130Tom ManaghanSudbury, OntarioMar 24, 2015
129Elaine JohnsonSylvan Lake, AlbertaMar 24, 2015
128Susan DewitOakville, OntarioMar 24, 2015
127Michael CodeAlbertaMar 24, 2015
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125Barbara CarmichaelDunkirk, New YorkMar 24, 2015
124Darien TaylorToronto, ONMar 24, 2015
123Alana BartolWindsor, OntarioMar 24, 2015
122Chantal Rheaumequébec, QuebecMar 24, 2015
121Luin GoldringMar 24, 2015
120Sasha WatsonLethbridge, ABMar 24, 2015
119Skye Maule-O'BrienToronto, OntarioMar 24, 2015
118Jeffrey TimmsAncaster, OntarioMar 24, 2015
117Fred FurlongMar 24, 2015
116Jennifer HendersonBlacksburg, VAMar 24, 2015
115Tyler WhiteCalgary, ABMar 24, 2015
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104Dorothy Spahanmerritt, British ColumbiaMar 23, 2015
103Ashley-Anne ChurchillVictoria, BCMar 23, 2015
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101Kelly HusackRegina, SKMar 23, 2015
100Michelle StewartRegina, SKMar 23, 2015
99Joan SteigerwaldToronto, OntarioMar 23, 2015
98Karen GordonMar 23, 2015
97Paul BainesToronto, OntarioMar 23, 2015
96Reg QuintonSt Marys, OntarioMar 23, 2015
95Sara MartelToronto, OntarioMar 23, 2015
94nerea calvillolondonMar 23, 2015
93Peter RamsdenSt. John'sMar 23, 2015
92Paula GrahamMar 23, 2015
91Adra GreigToronto, OntarioMar 23, 2015
90Troy HeadMar 23, 2015
89Phyllis CreightonToronto, OntarioMar 22, 2015
88Daniel MudrickToronto, OntarioMar 22, 2015
87Isabel AranedaToronto, OnMar 22, 2015
86Katherine DuncansonMar 22, 2015
85Melissa BennerToronto, OntarioMar 21, 2015
84James DeutschMar 21, 2015
83Nathalie BrunetTorbay, Newfoundland & LabradorMar 21, 2015
82Cameron MurrayToronto, OnMar 21, 2015
81Heather MollesonWhittby, OntarioMar 20, 2015
80Scott TurnerMar 20, 2015
79Lisa FormanToronto, OntarioMar 20, 2015
78Diane Beckettottawa, OntarioMar 20, 2015
77Kelly FritschToronto, OntarioMar 20, 2015
76Ellen BrodeyMar 20, 2015
75Shawn MackinnonBrooklyn, NYMar 19, 2015
74Bonnie NorthBarrie, OntarioMar 19, 2015
73Dr. Tanya DahmsRegina, SaskatchewanMar 19, 2015
72Megan StewartSt. John's, NLMar 19, 2015
71Lisa FredricksonVancouver, British ColumbiaMar 19, 2015
70Robyn BrownFort Smith, NTMar 19, 2015
69Marie St.Onge-DavidsonOttawa, ONMar 19, 2015
68Ann KujundzicVictoria, B.C.Mar 18, 2015
67Jody BerlandToronto, ONMar 18, 2015
66Aryn MartinCaledon, OntarioMar 18, 2015
65Benjamin MitchellHalifax, NSMar 18, 2015
64Tara Lynn KranicsMISSISSAUGA, OntarioMar 18, 2015
63Peter HobbsToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
62Sandra WidmerToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
61Charlie MacLeodLaSalle, QuebecMar 18, 2015
60Matthew FarishToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
59Berenicci HershornToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
58Tom HenhefferToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
57Yacine Dottridge Toronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
56Edward NagyToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
55Heather DavisMar 18, 2015
54Julia Gruson-WoodToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
53Xan ChackoOakland, CAMar 18, 2015
52Arnold Amber, CJFE PresidentToronto, OntarioMar 18, 2015
51Alice BuchananAlliston, OntarioMar 17, 2015
50Darlene JuschkaRegina, SaskatchewanMar 17, 2015
49Laura SnidermanMar 17, 2015
48Dr. Natalie LovelessEdmonton, AlbertaMar 17, 2015
47Sarah Calvertbarrie , onMar 17, 2015
46Sally McKayHamilton, ONMar 17, 2015
45Joshua WeinerMar 17, 2015
44Leesa FawcettMono, OntarioMar 16, 2015
43Krista MaxwellToronto, OntarioMar 16, 2015
42Constance RussellThunder BayMar 16, 2015
41Tyler ArseneaultPort Coquitlam, British ColumbiaMar 16, 2015
40Ashley JohnsonToronto, OntarioMar 16, 2015
39Fran ThoburnMar 16, 2015
38Nicole MaunsellHalifax, NSMar 16, 2015
37N MAstoria, New YorkMar 16, 2015
36Michael D. DewLangley, B.C.Mar 16, 2015
35Marta BerbesKitchener, OntarioMar 16, 2015
34DAVID HLYNSKYToronto, OntarioMar 15, 2015
33Dr. Lindsay BellToronto, ON M6G 3C6, OntarioMar 15, 2015
32Alfredo ConversoCanora, SaskatchewanMar 15, 2015
31Sabrina ScottToronto, Ontario Mar 15, 2015
30Jillian SmithMar 15, 2015
29Christianne StephensHamilton, OntarioMar 14, 2015
28Ailsa CraigSt. John's, NLMar 14, 2015
27Michael Oman-ReaganMar 13, 2015
26Stuart BasdenToronto, OntarioMar 13, 2015
25Marilyn MarshallStratford, ONMar 13, 2015
24Michael ZrydToronto, OntarioMar 13, 2015
23carol farkastoronto, OntarioMar 13, 2015
22Bret HamptonKimberley, BCMar 13, 2015
21Sheila MoiniOttawa, OntarioMar 13, 2015
20Lisa HowseSaskatoon, SaskatchewanMar 13, 2015
19Troy OgdenRegina, SKMar 13, 2015
18Max LiboironSt. John's, NewfoundlandMar 13, 2015
17Magdalena Kazubowski-HoustonToronto, ONMar 12, 2015
16Margrit EichlerToronto, OntarioMar 12, 2015
15Alison SymeToronto, OntarioMar 12, 2015
14Miguel Daraîche-LeblancMontréalq, QuebecMar 12, 2015
13Sara KomarniskyEdmonton, Alberta (AB)Mar 12, 2015
12Mara MillsNew York, NYMar 11, 2015
11Thomas Klie-CribbToronto, OntarioMar 11, 2015
10Callum C. J. SutherlandToronto, OntarioMar 11, 2015
9Brit CruiseMar 11, 2015
8Michael BrewerToronto, OnMar 11, 2015
7Ayelen LiberonaTorontoMar 11, 2015
6Lauren SmithWhitby, OntarioMar 11, 2015
5Devon MollesonWhitby, OntarioMar 11, 2015
4Natasha MyersToronto, OntarioMar 11, 2015
3Samantha ReidOshawa, OntarioMar 11, 2015
2Gina MollesonSt. John's, Newfoundland and LabradorMar 11, 2015
1Pat Murrayridgetown, onMar 11, 2015

More Information


“National Aboriginal Health Organizations funding cut” CBC News, April 9, 2012.

Triana Roache, “Scientists sound alarm on looming aboriginal health research crisis” APTN News, December 4, 2015.

Paul Christopher Webster, “Aboriginal health programming under siege, critics charge” Canadian Medical Association Journal, September 2012.

Aboriginal Health Research Steering Committee Response to emerging crisis between CIHR and the Aboriginal health research community November 2014.

Gilbert, et al (2015). “Stillbirth and infant mortality rates in Aboriginal communities in Quebec” Statistics Canada Health Reports, 26(2), 3-8

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