Professor Jeffrey Reading concludes Interim Directorship of Waakebiness-​Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health

November 24/2015

The Dalla Lana School of Public Health wishes Professor Jeffrey Reading well as he concludes a remarkable year of growth for the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health and finishes his term as Interim Director on November 27, 2015.

“Jeff has done an outstanding job as interim director, serving as a guiding force to put the Institute on a great trajectory and positioning it as an authority on Indigenous health issues,” said Howard Hu, Dalla Lana School of Public Health Dean. “We are deeply grateful for his insightful and wise leadership.”

Professor Reading accepted the inaugural Interim Director position for the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health in January 2015 and presided over several milestones, including a memorable naming ceremony in March 2015 and the creation of a community advisory council of 20 Indigenous leaders and scholars from across Canada.

“I am extraordinarily grateful to Michael and Amira Dan who made the Institute possible and the support of staff and faculty who made it a successful inaugural year,” said Professor Reading, who is the recipient  of the 2015 C.P. Shah Alumni Award of Excellence in Public Health from the Public Health Alumni Association. The award is given annually to a star alumnus who significantly advanced population health in Canada. It was awarded to Reading at the PHAA General Meeting on November 24.

The Canadian political landscape changed considerably since Professor Reading came to Toronto in early 2015. Reading leaves U of T optimistic following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter to Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in which he wrote:

“No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples.  It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

Professor Reading formed meaningful research, education and service partnerships with Minister Bennett as well as David Zimmer, Ontario’s Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, among many other government officials, scholars and community leaders during his tenure.

“The dramatic majority government victory by Prime Minister Trudeau signals a sea change in Indigenous relations compared to the previous decade,” said Reading, who will remain connected to the School as a status-only faculty member and special advisor to the Dean in the area of Indigenous health.

“There is very strong reason to believe that the new Federal Government will make Indigenous health and health determinants a national priority.”

Professor Earl Nowgesic, the Institute’s Associate Director, will become Acting Director on January 1, 2016, and his role will be back-filled as a one-year contract. Professor Reading will officially complete his term on December 31, 2015, but is on travel status through the month of December.

Before coming to U of T, Reading was a Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy at the University of Victoria, the founding Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research at the University of Victoria, and the inaugural Scientific Director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

“I’ve learned a great deal from my experience at the School and I look forward to an ongoing role as advisor with colleague and friends, including Dean Howard Hu, Beth McCarthy, Nicole Bodnar, Robin Hurst, Ted Myers, Earl Nowgesic and many others. Thank you,” said Reading.

Photo: Jeff Reading with Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, at the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health naming ceremony in March 2015.