UNBC’s Ninth Canada Research Chair to Study the Relationship Between Water and Health in the North

November 16, 2009

A better understanding of how waterways influence the health of communities, economies, and the world is the focus of the University of Northern British Columbia’s newest Canada Research Chair. Dr. Margot Parkes was recently named Canada Research Chair in Health, Ecosystems, and Society – UNBC’s ninth CRC appointment.Dr. Parkes comes to northern BC to examine the effect of changing ecosystems on the health and well-being of communities, with a focus on water as a common resource for livelihoods, food security, culture and economies. Her work will bring together organizations, communities and researchers involved in health and water governance in the northern Fraser River Basin, which includes Prince George, Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, McBride, Valemount, and Vanderhoof.

The results of her research are intended to provide practical guidance for integrating health and environmental decision-making in BC, across Canada, and beyond.

“When we think of waterways as the bloodstream of the planet, we are reminded that water connects our health, communities and economies with the natural world,” says Dr. Parkes, who trained as a medical doctor in New Zealand and also holds a PhD. “These connections are especially important for the long-term wellbeing of resource-dependant, rural and aboriginal communities. It is ideal to be able to study these connections in a university that already has strong links with local communities and organizations, as well as research strengths that span health, ecosystems, and society.”

Dr. Parkes comes to the University from UBC, where she was with the Department of Family Practice and College of Health Disciplines. Her past work includes studying watersheds and health in New Zealand, Ecuador, and Hawaii and investigating how the management of droughts, floods, biodiversity, and contamination has influenced health.

“Dr. Parkes is UNBC’s first health-related CRC and we are excited to have her with us,” says Gail Fondahl, UNBC’s Vice President of Research. “We especially value the fact that her research orientation links across UNBC’s strategic themes of rural, remote, and indigenous health, natural resources management, and sustainable rural communities.”

In 2000, the federal government created the Canada Research Chair Program to establish 2000 research professorships in institutions across the country. The program is part of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development.

Dr. Margot Parkes will be available to take media calls between 1pm and 5pm on Monday, November 16, 2009.

Dr. Margot Parkes parkesm[at]unbc.ca, CRC in Health, Ecosystems, and Society, UNBC – 250.960.6813
Michael Kellett kellettm[at]unbc.ca, Communications Officer, UNBC – 250.960.5621

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