A new provincial network will provide Indigenous people with the ability to have more control over what and how research is conducted to improve health and wellness in their communities.
Based at the University of Victoria, the BC Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) supports an environment where First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples can set their own research priorities, have equitable access to funding and work collaboratively with researchers while foregrounding Indigenous knowledge systems and approaches to research.
Charlotte Loppie, professor and associate dean of research at UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, was awarded $3.5 million over five years from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, which is funding nine networks across Canada. Loppie says she envisions BC NEIHR “as a blanket that supports innovation and uncovers brilliance.”
While Indigenous communities, collectives and organizations already have the capacity to plan, organize and lead the NEIHR will help translate those abilities in the context of research.
The network will develop infrastructure such as programs, administrative and organizational structures; support knowledge sharing and mobilization projects; increase support, development and the use of Indigenous research methods and approaches; incorporate local knowledge, traditions and expertise and create and sustain research opportunities for Indigenous students and researchers.
Among the initiatives, an Indigenous research facilitator will be hired in each of B.C.’s five health regions to develop and promote Indigenous-led research. This includes helping to identify research funding opportunities, write grant applications to provincial and federal agencies, develop research budgets, connect with research partners while also learning from Indigenous-led local research.