Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Health

Last Updated: March 18, 2013

Sylvia Abonyi, PhD (Principal Investigator)

The role of culture in population health is increasingly coming under intense scrutiny at the conceptual and applied levels. This program of research is investigating the role of culture as a determinant of health with Aboriginal community research partners through the concept of “cultural vitalization.” This approach seeks to examine culture in population health as a multiple and dynamic set of phenomena, rather than historical and static.

This first phase of the research, “Cultural Vitalization as a Health Determinant Among Aboriginal Canadians,” from 2005 to 2010, focused on Aboriginal health in northern and remote contexts, specifically northern Saskatchewan. Working closely with northern Aboriginal communities, the research explored on two questions: “What is a healthy community?” and “How would we measure that?”

In spring 2010, Dr. Sylvia’s Abonyi Tier 2 Canada Research Chair was renewed for another five-year period to continue research.

Goals / Outcomes: There are two objectives and key deliverables expected from the project:

In conjunction with the first term award of the Canada Research Chair, the Prince Albert Population Health Research and Training Facility in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan opened in 2006, with funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the University of Saskatchewan, and the provincial government. The facility includes a research networking and field training room, advanced computer systems, and a secure data storage room. It houses audio and video equipment for data collection and dissemination, and technology capable of translating findings into innovative knowledge-sharing strategies. The Prince Albert location provides unique training and collaboration opportunities accessible not only to research personnel and students, but also to the community members who engage with us in research.

With the CRC renewal in 2010, the program of study is conducting a more focused exploration of Aboriginal people’s lived experience using community partner selected indicators from the Community Health and Wellness Toolkit created in the first term of the award. Over the second five-year period, the toolkit is being implemented with the Athabasca Health Authority in northern Saskatchewan to build a community database of information and create ways of evaluating programs and policies. The University of Saskatchewan website has a video about Sylvia Abonyi’s work on this project.

Funder:  Canada Research Chairs Secretariat / University of Saskatchewan

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