New Inuit research network aims to put 'Inuit-specific lens' on health

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed says the funding will add an Inuit-specific lens to research.  (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami president Natan Obed says the funding will add an Inuit-specific lens to research. (Kate Kyle/CBC - image credit)

The government of Canada is spending $6.4 million to create an Inuit Research Network.

The research network was announced Wednesday in Ottawa by the president of the national Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) Natan Obed, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and the president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Dr. Michael Strong.

The money comes from a grant provided through CIHR.

"I think this funding will help in a number of ways that perhaps we can't even imagine at this very moment," Obed said in a news conference.

"Inuit are not looking for a completely separate approach to research, we are working with institutions, we are providing an Inuit-specific lens to the work we do."

He pointed to an ongoing Canada-wide Inuit health survey, and said having new datasets could allow for a better understanding of certain health outcomes and help guide what priorities to focus on when it comes to improving Inuit health.

He says the research grant will allow for more conversations to understand Inuit health and more importantly, take action to address it.

Funding will flow through ITK to the four Inuit regions and their respective land claims organizations — the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated in Nunavut, the Makivik Corporation in Nunavik and the Nunatsiavut government in Labrador.

The network builds on ITK's National Inuit Strategy on Research released in 2018. ITK developed a five-year plan with CIHR which called for the creation of an Inuit Research Network.

Health Minister Duclos said the research will help improve the health and well-being of Inuit in Canada.

"This announcement is about research. You might feel it's disconnected from health and healthcare but it's not the case," Duclos said.

He said it's an opportunity to "connect the scientific world with the world which we want to be improved for people living in Inuit Nunangat.

"That's what makes the most difference when it comes to the value of the research from a scientific perspective but also more importantly the value of the research for the health and the well being of the people living in the area."