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U of T prof earns Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Indigenous health

“Health information is actually an extension of our sacred kin lines – of the blood and genetic memory that’s held in our DNA. It’s an observation about our health that’s rooted in blood memory. That’s a huge and awesome resource. We can use this to plan and develop thriving communities.”

Prof. Janet Smylie sees a change in the conversation about systemic racism.

The recently appointed Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Health believes she is the first Indigenous person with kin and land ties to what is now known as Canada. She hopes to use the platform to advance the conversation even further.

“First Peoples in Canada receive second class healthcare services that for the greater part have been designed using non-Indigenous models and approaches,” says Smylie, a University of Toronto professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine.

She is pleased about the award but prepared for the work ahead, which blends her medical and research background. From health care to research, it is all “relational.”

“I have the privilege and opportunity to develop those relationships with patients and carry that into my public health research and in Indigenous communities. Relationality, from my perspective, as a Métis woman is foundational to Indigenous social systems. The key, in my mind, is to never underestimate how important those relationships are,” she says.

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