Anisnabe Kekendazone Network Environment for Aboriginal Health Research

1 Stewart Street, Room 319
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Telephone: 1 613 562 5393
Fax: 1 613 562 5392

CIHR: The Canadian Institute of Health Research

Malcolm King, scientific director of the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health at CIHR, gives an overview of Aboriginal health research at CIHR during the National Colloquium on Racism, Cultural Safety and Aboriginal Peoples' Health, February 1, 2012

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is Canada's premier federal agency for health research. One of its objectives is to create new knowledge and translate that new research knowledge into improved health conditions for all Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened health care system. In all, there are 13 "virtual" institutes that make up CIHR, each one dedicated to a specific area of health research.

As one of its first initiatives, the CIHR - Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health (IAPH) established Aboriginal Capacity and Developmental Research Environments (ACADRE) centres to develop a network of supportive research environments across Canada that facilitates the development of aboriginal capacity in health research. Although there are demonstrated pockets of excellence in aboriginal health research in Canada, this field requires the systemic development of both human resources and supportive research environments in order to ensure continued growth and broad regional development. Designed to sustain and evolve the momentum of the ACADRE centres, CIHR - IAPH launched a new initiative in 2007 titled Network Environments for Aboriginal Health Research (NEAHRs).

The launch has resulted in the formation of 9 centres including the successful transition of former ACADRE centres. Seven regional centres include NEAR-BCWA(Vancouver), Alberta ACADRE Network (Edmonton), Centre for Aboriginal Health Research (Winnipeg), Indigenous Health Research Development Program (U of Toronto, McMaster), Atlantic Aboriginal Health Research Program (Halifax), Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre (Regina), Nasivvik Centre for Inuit Health and Changing Environments (Quebec City), and 2 national centres; Anisnawbe Kekendazone - CIET (Ottawa) and National Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research (Toronto). NEAHR centres now form a national network known as the Aboriginal Health Research Networks (AHRNets) which coordinate their collaborative activity.

The objectives of the centres are:

  • to pursue scientific knowledge based on international standards of research excellence
  • to advance capacity and infrastructure in aboriginal health research
  • to provide the appropriate environment for scientists from across the four research pillars, 1) Biomedical research, 2) Clinical research, 3) Health services/systems research, and 4) Social, cultural, environmental and population health research, to pursue research opportunities in partnership with aboriginal communities
  • to provide opportunities for aboriginal communities and organizations to identify important health research objectives in collaboration with aboriginal health researchers
  • to facilitate the rapid uptake of research results through appropriate communication and dissemination strategies
  • to provide an appropriate environment and resources to encourage aboriginal and non-aboriginal students to pursue careers in aboriginal health research

Each centre must include a volunteer advisory board with majority membership being from the aboriginal community, facilitate development of aboriginal health researchers at all career stages and provide training opportunities for students, and facilitate health research capacity development in aboriginal communities and organizations.

The NEAHR centres focus solely on exploring critical aboriginal health issues and are the initial links in a developing network of centres across Canada responsible for developing the next generation of aboriginal health researchers and for focused research efforts on determinants of health in aboriginal communities.

To be successful in acquiring a NEAHR centre grant, applicants must demonstrate a combination of scientific merit and community partnerships. Each applicant must identify up to three major health research themes that the centre will develop as areas of primary excellence. Research themes currently focus on issues such as, but are not limited to: nutrition; violence and trauma; traditional knowledge; health services and policy; population and public health; child health, environmental influences of health and mental health.

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