The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has recognized Jennifer Leason and Tamil Kendall of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences at UBC Okanagan for research initiatives aimed at improving women’s health.
Leason, a PhD student in Community, Culture and Global Studies, has received a three-year CIHR Doctoral Research Award of $35,000 per year to support her project Indigenous (First Nations, Metis & Inuit) Women’s Maternal Health Experiences in British Columbia.
Leason’s research examines the status, access and experience of indigenous women’s maternal health in British Columbia and Canada.
Focusing on the indigenous women’s perspective, Leason hopes to better understand maternity definitions and maternal health needs in pregnancy, birth and postpartum, as well as the key health determinants affecting maternal health and how priorities can be addressed.
“This research is important because it documents gaps in policy, practice and services specific to Indigenous women,” said Leason, who is of Saulteaux Metis-Anishinabe decent. Her indigenous roots are from Pine Creek First Nation, Duck Bay and Camperville, Manitoba.
“My research examines holistic understandings of health and incorporates indigenous theory, methods, and women’s narrative, culture and spirituality into the study of health and wellness, specific to indigenous women’s maternal and reproductive health.”
Tamil Kendall, a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies, has been awarded a prestigious two-year CIHR fellowship to conduct post-doctoral work at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Kendall’s research, Women’s Health Rights and Realities: Increasing Accountability for Integration of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Mexico’s System for Social Health Protection, seeks to identify politically feasible and community-based mechanisms for improving access to sexual and reproductive health services in Mexico for socially vulnerable women, including rural indigenous women and women with HIV.
“Every day around the world 7,000 people become infected with HIV—about 3,000 women and 1,000 children through mother-to-child transmission—and 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth,” said Kendall. “These infections and deaths can be prevented, and doing so requires political commitment and action. My research will contribute to understanding how diverse, multilevel advocacy coalitions can improve transparency, accountability, and the effective exercise of health rights in decentralized health systems.”
During her post-doctoral fellowship, Tamil will work with the internationally renowned women’s health researcher and advocate, Dr. Ana Langer, as a member of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health.