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NOSM Hosts Partnership Opportunities in Research Gathering

Posted on November 10, 2008

On Thursday, November 6, 2008, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) concluded a three-day Partnership Opportunities in Research Gathering in Thunder Bay. Over one hundred participants from Aboriginal communities, NOSM, and health research organizations attended this unique event. The first forum of its kind in Canada, the Gathering included lively debate on a range of topics regarding research involving Aboriginal peoples and their communities.

Many participants voiced frustration over historical research practices which have failed to provide benefits for Aboriginal people or communities. Lack of respect for or recognition of Aboriginal cultures was cited as an ongoing concern.

This event was the first step in establishing mutual understanding between Aboriginal people and researchers and developing a framework for future collaborative partnerships between Aboriginal people and communities, NOSM, and other stakeholders. Divergent perspectives worked to spark deeper philosophical questions about how scientific research may be undertaken according to principles which are consistent with the holistic Aboriginal world view.

Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Founding Dean, applauded the participants for their candid contributions to a dialogue that foreshadows collaborative research initiatives aimed at improving the health of Aboriginal peoples. “This has been a tremendous opportunity to share perspectives and to understand the different world views of those participating in the Partnership Opportunities in Research Gathering. Appreciating those perspectives is critical to identifying common ground upon which new research initiatives can begin.” Dr. Strasser added that the School’s focus will expand to include partnerships in research, as well as those already established in education and training. Research and relationship building is reflective of the School’s mandate to be socially accountable to the diverse cultures of Northern Ontario.

Moderator Chris LaFontaine also applauded NOSM for its efforts in organizing the event. “Giving the communities every opportunity to have input from the very beginning is the most significant aspect of this conference,” he said. The success of the Partnership Opportunities in Research Gathering set the foundation for future relationships that will include full participation of Aboriginal peoples and communities.