Media Releases

U of T to launch new institute to focus on indigenous health

June 20, 2014

TORONTO, ON – The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to announced today that Michael and Ami­ra Dan have donat­ed $10 mil­lion to sup­port the cre­ation of an insti­tute ded­i­cat­ed to improv­ing the health of Indige­nous peo­ples. The dona­tion is being announced today in recog­ni­tion and cel­e­bra­tion of Nation­al Abo­rig­i­nal Day on June 21.

The insti­tute will be based at the Dal­la Lana School of Pub­lic Health, a Fac­ul­ty of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, and will involve fac­ul­ty experts through­out the uni­ver­si­ty. An advi­so­ry com­mit­tee ded­i­cat­ed to com­mu­ni­ty-based col­lab­o­ra­tion will be assem­bled to ensure key voic­es from Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties are involved in the institute’s mis­sion.

“I am excit­ed and hon­oured to take part in an ini­tia­tive that will improve the health and well-being of one of Canada’s most mar­gin­al­ized peo­ples,” said Dan. “The insti­tute will be based at Canada’s lead­ing uni­ver­si­ty and will pro­vide inno­v­a­tive solu­tions designed to nar­row the much too large gap between the health sta­tus of Indige­nous and non-Indige­nous pop­u­la­tions.”

The devel­op­ment of an Indige­nous health insti­tute demon­strates the university’s com­mit­ment to improv­ing the well-being and qual­i­ty of life enjoyed by Indige­nous peo­ples through high­er edu­ca­tion and advanced research. Research and inno­v­a­tive approach­es will be shared with glob­al part­ners address­ing sim­i­lar prob­lems.

“The actu­al cre­ation of an insti­tute that merges tra­di­tion­al and con­tem­po­rary expe­ri­ence in health is a tru­ly excit­ing devel­op­ment for Indige­nous peo­ples the world over,” said Elder Fred Kel­ly, a mem­ber of the Ojib­ways of Onigam­ing and a cit­i­zen of the Anishi­naabe Nation. “It is noble in vision and bold in mis­sion.  Its spir­it of inno­v­a­tive­ness is a dream com­ing true.”

U of T has a long tra­di­tion of grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion and research in Indige­nous health issues and will be host­ing Canada’s first Indige­nous Health Con­fer­ence lat­er this year. The objec­tives of the inau­gur­al con­fer­ence are to share knowl­edge and build capac­i­ty among health­care providers who serve Indige­nous peo­ples in Cana­da.

“The U of T com­mu­ni­ty encom­pass­es the breadth and depth of exper­tise required to engage in this com­plex endeav­our – lead­ing schol­ars in pub­lic health, med­i­cine, nurs­ing, social work, edu­ca­tion, law, anthro­pol­o­gy, and many oth­er dis­ci­plines,” said U of T Pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler.   “This insti­tute will pro­vide unique oppor­tu­ni­ties for world-class inter-dis­ci­pli­nary grad­u­ate and post-grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion and research pro­grams in a field of great impor­tance to Indige­nous peo­ples and to soci­ety as a whole.”

Howard Hu, Dean of the University’s Dal­la Lana School of Pub­lic Health, also expressed his excite­ment about the new project and said the insti­tute will play an impor­tant role at U of T and through­out the coun­try.

“U of T is already a leader in Indige­nous health research through var­i­ous pro­grams and cours­es in dif­fer­ent fac­ul­ties, schools and depart­ments,” said Hu. “The cre­ation of this insti­tute will bring togeth­er these sep­a­rate efforts, cre­ate new part­ner­ships with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, and marked­ly strength­en U of T’s abil­i­ty to gen­er­ate the com­mu­ni­ty-based research and new schol­ars crit­i­cal to improv­ing Indige­nous health in Cana­da and around the world.”

Dean Hu not­ed that over the next few months a gov­er­nance struc­ture will be devel­oped to ensure a com­mit­ment to col­lab­o­ra­tion and par­tic­i­pa­to­ry prac­tices with respect to the institute’s teach­ing, research and knowl­edge-trans­la­tion activ­i­ties, to ensure ben­e­fits for Indige­nous peo­ples in Cana­da and glob­al­ly.


For more infor­ma­tion:

Michael Kennedy
U of T Media Rela­tions
416 946‑5025