Aboriginal Health Research

Kelly Skinner, PhD candidate, University of Waterloo
Kelly Skinner is a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Studies and Gerontology at the University of Waterloo. Her main research focus is food and nutrition issues in remote Aboriginal communities.

Are you a student interested in Aboriginal health issues? Or are you a student already working within Aboriginal health? Whether you work with First Nations, Métis, or Inuit populations that are living on reserve, off reserve, in urban, rural, semi-remote, or remote locations, there are many opportunities and resources available for you.

Opportunities exist for graduate students working in Aboriginal health research to:

  1. access relevant resources and publications;
  2. network with other graduate students;
  3. collaborate with and learn from research mentors; and
  4. apply for funding awards.

1. Resources and Publications:

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has an Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH) which leads and supports research that aims to improve the health of Aboriginal people in Canada. In 2007, the CIHR-IAPH released Guidelines for Health Research Involving Aboriginal People. Students should become familiar with these Aboriginal ethics policy guidelines as they provide guidance for designing and implementing ethical research projects with Aboriginal groups. Also in 2007, the CIHR-IAPH formed 9 centres called Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research (NEAHRs). The NEAHRs consist of 7 regional and 2 national centres situated across Canada. The Aboriginal Health Research Networks Secretariat (AHRNets) coordinates the collaborative activity of the NEAHR centres.

Useful online resources for Aboriginal health research include:

A sample of online research journals related to Aboriginal health include:

2. Networking:

The Annual National Gathering of Graduate Students in Aboriginal Health is a conference funded by the CIHR-IAPH, hosted by one of the NEAHR centres each year, usually in June. The gathering provides opportunities for students of  Aboriginal health to present their research to their peers, to experience and participate in local Aboriginal cultural activities and events in the host location, and to learn from Elders and community members involved in the events.

3. Mentorship:

Each NEAHR centre provides opportunities for mentorship with leading researchers in the field of Aboriginal health. Investigators are listed on each NEAHR website.

4. Funding:

NEAHR scholarships and awards are available for Masters and PhD graduate students whose research focuses on Aboriginal health issues. Students can apply to their closest NEAHR centre. Developmental grants, seed grants, and travel allowances are also offered by many of the NEAHR centres.

The Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP) from INAC provides supplementary funding support (transportation and living costs) for students to obtain northern research experience. Students apply through their respective universities.