UNBC researcher receives funding to conduct First Nations project at Northern Health

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – A UNBC researcher has been given funding to conduct a research project focusing on First Nations employment within Northern Health.

Dr. Sarah de Leeuw has received $149,500 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

“We are interested in studying the workplace in relation to Indigenous employees at Northern Health, and how to bring more Indigenous workers into the organization,” says de Leeuw, a Northern Medical Program and Geography associate professor. “We will look at how to best gather information in this area, including innovative approaches such as videos of individuals highlighting what an ideal healthy work climate could look like for Indigenous people.”

“We will explore many different questions relating to all areas of the North. For example, how can we attract more Indigenous pharmacists to the Northwest, keep more Indigenous doctors in Prince George, or bring more Indigenous nurses into northern emergency departments?”

de Leeuw explained that the project is in the first phase which will be 2 years. Then, they would have up to 7 years after that to conduct the rest of the work. They are trying right now to build partnerships around B.C. within 2 years.

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She says they will start assembling a team that can address all the questions they have over a 7-year period. 2 years wouldn’t be enough time to do all the work they plan to do, according to Do Leeuw.

In addition, through the support of the Health Arts Research Centre led by de Leeuw, three Northern Medical Program students will join the project to assist.

“Ensuring the health and safety of First Nations employees and a positive work environment for healthcare partners, in part helps set the tone for effective, accessible and culturally-safe healthcare for First Nations communities,” said Richard Jock, Chief Operating Officer of the First Nations Health Authority. “Today’s announcement represents an excellent opportunity to work with our partners to develop more culturally and contextually safe environments to support and increase the number of First Nations healthcare professionals working within the healthcare system. It is also a great demonstration of the leadership commitment to implementing and supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, by examining current health authority infrastructures to increase cultural safety and increasing the number of Aboriginal health professionals.”

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