Waakebiness-​Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health to celebrate two-​year anniversary

May 18/2016

As the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health — the world’s first privately endowed research institute dedicated to the health of Indigenous peoples — approaches its two-year anniversary, I am pleased to share the Institute’s progress.

Launched on June 21, 2014 with a $10-million gift from Drs. Michael and Amira Dan, the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health (WBIIH) is currently run by a productive four-person team led by Assistant Professor Earl Nowgesic, Interim Director and Assistant Professor Anita Benoit, Interim Associate Director.

Last fall, the WBIIH established a Community Advisory Council to guide the Institute’s strategy and to promote community-driven scholarship, education and partnership. Chaired by Dr. Margo Greenwood, the 20-person council includes Indigenous experts from academia, the healthcare sector, support services and the community.

In March 2016, the Community Advisory Council and DLSPH senior leadership developed a Request for Proposal program that will provide funding to community-based Indigenous health intervention research projects, planning projects, student-based Indigenous health research projects, and student travel awards. I expect the call for proposals to be announced by early June and I encourage all students, alumni and faculty with aligned research interests to consider applying and sharing the opportunity with colleagues.

In addition to the Request for Proposal program, the WBIIH is also helping to develop recommendations for U of T’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Steering Committee. Professor Nowgesic is co-chairing one of the committee’s five working groups with Professor Lorraine Ferris, Associate Vice-President of Research, which is examining Indigenous Research Ethics and Community Relationships. Professor Benoit is a member of the Indigenous Curriculum working group.

Finally, the WBIIH initiated its first research study that I am leading with a team of colleagues from Cancer Care Ontario and Public Health Ontario in partnership with Indigenous community members in the North Angle 33 First Nation near Kenora, Ontario to determine if cancer incidence rates in their population are elevated and environmentally linked.

As the WBIIH continues to increase academic, research and services offerings that will address Indigenous health, it is getting noticed in the U of T community and beyond. I hope you will all read the article, New hope for improved Indigenous health in the Spring 2016 Canada Issue of the U of T Edge Magazine.

For more information about WBIIH, please visit the Institute’s new website.