Collaborating to encourage, recruit, train and support the success of a greater number of young Indigenous scholars in the Indigenous health research realm. This is the goal behind a new research project Dr. Chris Furgal, associate professor with the Indigenous Environmental Sciences/Studies program is involved in.
Professor Furgal collaborated with colleagues from education institutions across the province in establishing and furthering the goals of the Ontario Indigenous Mentorship Network Program. The Network recently received a $1 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research which was then further matched by many of the participating Institutions to dedicate $2 million dollars to this cause over the next 5 years.
“Encouragement for, and support of, Indigenous students in their pursuit of experience in health research, and health-related careers, has been significantly lacking in the past,” says Prof. Furgal. “This has been related to a number of systemic issues that have created barriers for Indigenous students wanting to pursue health studies/sciences or health careers via professional and post-secondary educational pathways.”
Involving both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars representing disciplines related to health research, the network will help Indigenous students gain experience, training and mentorship opportunities as it relates to health research. The program aims to provide students with a much broader network to access regardless of where they are in the Ontario postsecondary education landscape.
“To have a network such as this, led predominantly by Indigenous scholars, focusing on Indigenous health research training issues with Indigenous trainees, has been a long time coming,” explains Prof. Furgal. “Moving forward, the success of this program means more Indigenous scholars working in the areas of health research, formulating what questions get asked, how those questions get asked and how that research is pursued. It is exciting for me to participate in this initiative and connect Trent University and its students to this network of opportunities.”