Kelly Skinner, associate professor in the School of Public Health Sciences, was appointed a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Applied Public Health Chair in Healthy environments for climate change and food security in northern Canada.
The prestigious position, one of only seven awarded, includes $1.15 million in funding over five years for highly focused research that improves health equity for citizens in Canada and around the world.
“By understanding climate change impacts and identifying local adaptations in the food systems of communities in northern Canada, we can better support the well-being and sustainability of communities, the environment, and land,” Skinner said.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and the CIHR announced a total of $10 million to increase public health research capacity in Canada. This investment includes $8 million for seven new Applied Public Health Chairs to carry out research programs in infectious diseases, urban and environmental health, and disease prevention, and $2 million for new research to address population and public health priorities.
Skinner’s research will capture the innovative entrepreneurship of community-led food initiatives in adapting to climate change to improve food security, northern food systems and environments, health equity, self-determination, well-being and overall health. The community-engaged research will be based around several case studies with communities in the Northwest Territories.
The vision for the Chair is to broadly learn from and enhance community capacity to address place-based priorities and inform both climate change and food security action and self-determined support-structures at local, regional and territorial scales. A key aspect of this Chair is working closely with decision-maker Dr. Jennifer Fresque-Baxter, several other knowledge users, and community partners to be able to see policy windows and share case study findings.
The research builds on and extends existing collaborations among stakeholders, including government, health institutions, provincial and community organizations, researchers, trainees and, most importantly, with Indigenous partners to support innovation and knowledge transfer, as well as advocacy for social justice of Indigenous food systems, cultural policies, and greater equity for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities.
“We recognize the vital importance of investing in public health research to better protect the health and safety of all Canadians. The recipients of these applied research chairs will work with public health leaders to design and implement new approaches to addressing the complex health challenges facing Canada and help build a healthier future for everyone,” Duclos said in the announcement.