Canadian Institute of Health Research grants awarded to two University of Regina researchers

News Release Release Date: May 1, 2013 12:00 p.m.

University of Regina graduate student, Cassandra Opikokew, and postdoctoral fellow, Nuno Ribeiro, have been awarded funding by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) to further their work on Indigenous health and education policy.

Opikokew has been awarded a Doctoral Research Award, totaling $108,000 over three years, to further her work on Indigenous health and education policy. Using an Indigenous research methodology, she will examine the policy-making process in Canada in the areas of First Nations health and education, and will conduct a comparative analysis of other countries that share a similar colonial history.

“I am humbled by this award, as it will allow me to gather stories and voices from our First Nations communities,” says Opikokew. “Very little research exists on traditional policy-making amongst Indigenous peoples in North America prior to contact. Until the policy-making process and institutions are properly examined through an Indigenous lens and lessons are drawn from cases of success and failure, policymakers will continue to make decisions that fail to improve outcomes for Indigenous people.”

Opikokew is a PhD candidate at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS) and the associate director of the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC), where she leads the knowledge translation, policy development and strategic initiatives of the centre. Having grown up in Meadow Lake, SK, Opikokew is also a member of the Canoe Lake First Nation.

“We are very proud of the achievements of Cassandra whose work in areas of Indigenous health and education policy will benefit communities in Saskatchewan and across Canada," says Michael Atkinson, executive director of the JSGS. "This success, in addition to Cassandra’s Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship awarded in 2011-12, exemplifies the top-quality research talent at the JSGS.” For more information on Opikokew’s award, please visit www.schoolofpublicpolicy.sk.ca.

Nuno Ribeiro, postdoctoral fellow with IPHRC, has received $92,000 over two years to further his work on Aboriginal youth health and the role that culture plays in negative health and healthcare delivery. Part of his research includes collecting data from eleven Aboriginal communities in rural Saskatchewan in order to measure the impact of culture on the health behaviors of Aboriginal youth.

“Everyone at IPHRC is very proud of our students and researchers who have received CIHR awards. We know them to be hard workers who are passionate about Indigenous health, and now the rest of the country can see what ground-breaking research these folks are doing,” says Jo-Ann Episkenew, director of IPHRC.

IPHRC is a collaborative network working to improve and strengthen the quality of Indigenous health research and the health of Indigenous people. From 2003-11, IPHRC brought in $500,000 a year in federal funding, as well as $470,000 in 2012. In 2011 alone, IPHRC researchers brought in over $4.3 million in federal research funding in support of Aboriginal health research in Saskatchewan. In partnership with Indigenous communities, IPHRC is committed to transformative research that applies Indigenous knowledge and practices.