Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health (IIPH) Update
Message from the President

May 16, 2023

Dear colleagues,

As promised in my previous update on the CIHR Institute of Indigenous Peoples' Health (IIPH), I would like to provide you with further information regarding the interim leadership approach for the IIPH, and also update you on the search for a new Scientific Director.

As was mentioned in the previous message, an Advisory Circle has been created which will be grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing and will inform the selection process for the new IIPH Scientific Director, as well as advise on the interim leadership of the Institute. We always benefit from thoughtful dialogue with Indigenous partners and this Advisory Circle has already enriched the process to identify new leadership at the Institute.

The Advisory Circle met for the first time on April 11, 2023. Based on their advice, as well as direction from our Governing Council, I am pleased to announce that the role of Associate Scientific Director will be filled by Laura Commanda, currently the Projects Lead at the Institute.  Laura, who has longstanding history with CIHR, will oversee the Institute's day-to-day activities. Jeff Moore, Associate Vice-President, Government and External Relations, and Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs, will provide strategic leadership for the Institute, focusing on areas such as the enhancement of  Indigenous relationships and engagement, the Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research (NEIHR) renewal and expansion, anti-Indigenous racism, international collaboration opportunities, Indigenous membership and citizenship, and future investments. Jeff is a member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation and Laura is Anishinaabe from Serpent River First Nation.

With the interim leadership now in place at the Institute, we are looking forward to several important announcements this year.

CIHR recently published the annual progress update on the implementation of CIHR's Action Plan: Building a healthier future for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples, which noted a very encouraging trend in funding for Indigenous health research. We can be proud of the progress we made together in 2021-2022 towards the commitments articulated in the Action Plan. That progress is only possible because of the strength and commitment of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, and their ongoing work to lead health research that focuses on resilience, wellness, and Indigenous Ways of Knowing.

The refreshed IIPH Strategic Plan will be published later this year. It affirms the Institute's commitment to improving the health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples in ways that are consistent with the spirit of reconciliation and Indigenous self-determination.

In June, as we mark National Indigenous History Month, we look forward to continuing our partnership with the NEIHRs, a network of regional centres across the country with a mission to strengthen Indigenous research capacity through training and mentoring. Funding for the NEIHRs is the largest individual investment in Indigenous health research ever made by CIHR, with all 13 CIHR Institutes contributing funding. The NEIHRs are integral to CIHR's commitment to accelerating the self-determination of Indigenous Peoples in health research.

As these examples show, the Institute and CIHR as a whole will continue to prioritize Indigenous health research and knowledge mobilization in order to achieve equitable health outcomes. And we will continue to do this work in close collaboration with communities. I am humbled by and grateful for the advice we receive from the Advisory Circle and from the many Indigenous researchers, knowledge holders, Elders and community members who choose to partner with CIHR.

Miigwech, Marci, Nakummek, Merci, Thank you

Michael J. Strong, MD, FRCPC, FAAN, FCAHS
President, CIHR

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