Backgrounder Article from  Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Action Plan: Building a healthier future for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples

In its latest strategic plan, Roadmap II, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) established the health and wellness of Indigenous populations as one of the agency’s four priority areas of research. Consistent with a number of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, CIHR recognizes the importance of stepping up its efforts to build the research evidence that is critical for improving the health status of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

As part of this commitment, CIHR has enhanced its relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.  Based on their advice, it has committed to immediately implement a series of concrete actions to further strengthen Indigenous health research in Canada. Specifically, CIHR will:

  1. Increase its capacity to interact with Indigenous communities in a culturally appropriate manner, through  the creation of a dedicated team assigned to work directly with Indigenous peoples, researchers, and communities;
  2. Ensure that the Federal Government is made aware that the membership of CIHR’s Governing Council should reflect the diversity of Canada’s Indigenous peoples;
  3. Accept the definition of “Indigenous health research” as drafted by the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health in consultation with Indigenous stakeholders;
  4. Develop, in collaboration with the newly appointed Institute Advisory Board on Indigenous Peoples’ Health, performance indicators to validate CIHR investments in Indigenous health research;
  5. Increase its investments in Indigenous health research to a minimum of 4.6% (proportional to Canada’s Indigenous population) of CIHR’s annual budget;
  6. Seek to grow these investments as research capacity and additional financial resources allow;
  7. Continue working with the Reference Group on Indigenous Health Research ‎ to implement iterative peer review processes for applications relevant to Indigenous health, so as to ensure better success rates for Indigenous-focused investigator-initiated grant applications;
  8. Create, with the advice of the Institute Advisory Board on Indigenous Peoples’ Health,  impactful strategic initiatives aimed at improving the health of Indigenous peoples;
  9. Hold annual meetings between the President of CIHR and leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and the Métis National Council to discuss Indigenous health research priorities;
  10. Work with other federal research councils to develop strategies to strengthen Indigenous research capacity development through training and mentoring along the entire career continuum from undergraduate to postdoctoral levels.

At CIHR, we understand the power and potential of health research and the value of working collaboratively. The knowledge we produce together leads to healthier individuals, families, and communities. It is our hope and expectation that the actions and commitments we are taking today will contribute positively to strengthening a relationship of trust and mutual respect and improve the health of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Alain Beaudet, MD, PhD
President, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

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