June 21, 2024

Celebrating Indigenous health research on National Indigenous People's Day

Researchers and trainees at the O'Brien Institute for Public Health are advancing healthcare through innovative and culturally sensitive approaches
cultural symbols reflective of Indigenous pictographs and petroglyphs from sacred archaeological sites in southern Alberta

The O'Brien Institute for Public Health is proud to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day by highlighting the inspiring work of several dedicated researchers who are advancing Indigenous health through innovative and culturally sensitive approaches. Their efforts embody the Institute's mission to advance public health through research excellence.

 Dr. Cheryl Barnabe

Dr. Cheryl Barnabe

Meet Dr. Cheryl Barnabe, MD

Dr. Barnabe is focused on developing shared decision-making supports for Indigenous patients living with rheumatoid arthritis. An Arthritis Research Canada team in Calgary, led by Dr. Barnabe, is testing a new approach in collaboration with Indigenous communities in Alberta. Her research aims to adapt decision aids to be more culturally appropriate and to test the effectiveness of a new “decision coach” role in healthcare, enhancing comfort with treatment choices among Indigenous patients.

Her work is making significant strides in improving Indigenous health outcomes by addressing the systemic racism and mistrust Indigenous patients often face in the healthcare system. By creating a safe care environment and promoting autonomy in treatment decisions, Dr. Barnabe's research is fostering better health and well-being for Indigenous patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Learn more about Dr. Barnabe's inspiring work and join us in celebrating her contributions to Indigenous health research.

Dr. Barnabe is a rheumatologist and scientific director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health. She is a member of the Métis Nation of Alberta (now known as the Otipemisiwak Métis Government).

Dr. Pamela Roach

Dr. Pamela Roach

Meet Dr. Pamela Roach, PhD

Dr. Roach is focused on virtual care innovation with the Alberta Indigenous Virtual Care Clinic. Her work aims to implement and evaluate the Indigenous virtual patient experience (ARQS) tool, enhancing the quality and accessibility of virtual healthcare for Indigenous patients.

Her work is improving Indigenous health outcomes by developing sustainable virtual care approaches grounded in Indigenous community experiences and worldviews. This includes creating quality indicators and supporting continuous clinical quality improvement through innovative research funded by consecutive CIHR COVID-19 rapid response operating grants.

Learn more about Dr. Roach's inspiring work and join us in celebrating her contributions to Indigenous health research:

Dr. Pamela Roach, a proud citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, is the deputy director of the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, an assistant professor in the departments of family medicine and community health sciences, and academic director, Indigenous engagement in the Vice President (Research) Office at University of Calgary.

Jaiden Kuchinka (left) and Meagan Ody (right)

Jaiden Kuchinka (left) and Meagan Ody (right)

Meet Jaiden Kuchinka and Meagan Ody

Jaiden and Meagan are working with Dr. Pamela Roach on a project focused on innovation for Indigenous-led dementia care to enhance safety. The Innovation for Indigenous-led Dementia Care to Enhance Safety (VOICES) project aims to co-develop an implementation-ready approach to Indigenous-centred dementia care with Indigenous communities, enabling future national and international grant funding opportunities for implementation and evaluation.

This work is improving Indigenous health outcomes by addressing the specific needs of Indigenous people living with dementia. By promoting culturally safe care and incorporating Indigenous knowledge systems, this research is bridging the gap between research and community needs, ensuring truly participatory and effective dementia care.

Learn more about the VOICES project.

Jaiden Kuchinka is an Indigenous Master's student in the Department of Community Health Sciences specializing in population and public health. Her family comes from Austria and Fishing Lake First Nation on Treaty 4. Jaiden will be focusing on the second objective of the VOICES project, which aims to co-develop an Indigenous-centered dementia model of care in partnership with Indigenous individuals living with dementia, their families, and communities.

Meagan Ody is a master's student in the Department of Community Health Sciences specializing in population health. Her research is focussed on developing an understanding of Indigenous Peoples lived experiences with dementia as a foundation for further research to improve access to culturally safe and appropriate dementia care.

Sara Scott

Sara Scott

Meet Sara Scott

Her research is focused on Indigenous diabetes wellness through the co-development of an Indigenous peer support model. Her doctoral research, under the co-supervision of Drs. David Campbell and Lindsay Crowshoe, aims to enhance chronic disease management with Indigenous communities by co-creating a culturally relevant peer support program.

Through her work, she aspires to improve Indigenous health outcomes by addressing diabetes management from a social perspective with community-driven approaches. By conducting a scoping review, organizing an Indigenous advisory board made up of local Indigenous wellness champions, and co-designing a peer support program with the community, her research is fostering a collaborative and supportive health environment for Indigenous people living with diabetes.

Sara is currently pursuing her doctoral studies alongside her eldest daughter, Shayla, who is working on her Master's in Community Health Sciences. They support each other in navigating graduate school and are proud to be pursuing this path of higher education together. 

Sara is a University of Calgary PhD student in Community Health Sciences (health services research) and a mixed Cree Métis nurse, originally from the Northwest Territories.