Jennifer Leason and Tamil Kendall receive funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
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’s Okanagan campus 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,” says 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,” says 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.
“The fellowship provides a wonderful opportunity to work with an expert in the area of maternal health and work towards the translation of research into policy and practice,” says Kendall. “My intention is that my research will be useful to healthcare decision-makers and advocates in Mexico, as well as to broad-based coalitions of people committed to women’s health, working at the grassroots as well as internationally.”
Kendall is also a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship recipient.
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