Sacred Ceremony Marks Change of Leadership at Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health

February 22, 2017

Sudbury – A sacred ceremony – complete with songs, prayers, and the gift of tobacco – was held today at the Health Sciences North Research Institute (HSNRI) to honour the change in leadership of a national research institute devoted to Aboriginal health.

HSNRI is the new home of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH). Dr. Carrie Bourassa, HSNRI’s Chair of Northern and Indigenous Health, was selected as IAPH’s Scientific Director.

At today’s ceremony, Dr. Bourassa announced Earl Nowgesic as the newly appointed IAPH Assistant Scientific Director.

Earl Nowgesic (RN, BScN, MHSc, PhD) is Anishinaabe from Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (Gull Bay First Nation) and has over 20 years of experience working in the health sector in Canada. He is also a Status-only Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto (U of T). He has also been the Interim Associate Director and Interim Director of the U of T Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health, and the Director of the First Nations Centre of the National Aboriginal Health Organization. He was the inaugural Associate Director of the CIHR-IAPH, and the first Epidemiologist for the Assembly of First Nations.

Under the leadership of Dr. Bourassa and Earl Nowgesic, CIHR’s Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health will work with the Indigenous health research community and stakeholders to:

• identify research priorities
• develop research funding opportunities
• build partnerships
• translate research evidence into practice to improve the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Today’s sacred ceremony also paid tribute to Dr. Malcolm King, who served as IAPH’s Scientific Director from 2009 to 2016. Dr. King is a member of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation and a health researcher at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.

The ceremony was attended by elders and Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health care and community leaders across Canada.

“The CIHR-IAPH team is strengthened by the skills and dedication of Earl Nowgesic, our new Assistant Scientific Director. Together, we want to engage with local Indigenous health professionals and leadership. We also want to formally acknowledge the land on which we will be working: the Robinson-Huron Treaty territory and the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Whitefish Lake First Nation).”- Dr. Carrie Bourassa, Health Sciences North Research Institute Chair of Northern & Indigenous Health and Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health.

“I am delighted to be returning to CIHR-IAPH at such a promising time for Indigenous health in Canada. Dr. Bourassa intends to advance research on the most pressing matters in Indigenous health, and I look forward to working with her in supporting researchers, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples and other groups across the country. All my relations. Miigwetch.” – Earl Nowgesic, Assistant Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health.

“We are honoured to have Dr. Bourassa and Earl Nowgesic assume leadership of the CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, because it speaks to the importance and quality of the research HSNRI is doing. Aboriginal health is a pressing concern across Canada, but particularly in northeastern Ontario.  We must rethink how the health care system approaches aboriginal health if we are going to improve the overall health and well-being of Canada’s aboriginal peoples. I have full confidence we’ll make great strides under their leadership.” Dr. Denis Roy, President and CEO of Health Sciences North and HSN Research Institute.


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