Third-year nursing student Allison Forbes has received the first-ever Edets’seehdza Studentship award for health research, from health research organization Hotii ts’eeda.
Meaning “stepping forward to challenge yourself” in Tlicho, the Edets’seehdza award offers a $20,000 stipend for a returning Aurora College student to tackle health research during their studies. The College, Hotii ts’eeda, and the Aurora Research Institute jointly fund and provide the studentship.
With a long-term goal of becoming a community health nurse, Forbes will be able to use her stipend to study Indigenous health in the territory. Her work will be in collaboration with Dr. Pertice Moffitt, Aurora Research Institute’s Manager of Health Research Programs.
In a news release, Aurora College president Tom Weegar said the initiative “strengthen(s) research capacity in the NWT by providing Aurora College students an opportunity to engage in research while pursuing their studies.”
“We are proud of Allison and look forward to her future accomplishments,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Hotii ts’eeda Chairperson Dr. John B. Zoe told Yellowknifer he expects the studentship to continue long into the future.“I’m sure it will go well, and I’m sure we’ll be doing another one as long as we’re around,” he said.
The considerations awarding the studentship are relatively simple: a commitment to health and connection to the region.
“We put in a scholarship for someone who’s already in the field, who’s in the North,” he said, explaining the organization looked for “someone who’s really into it” and passionate about health research. The money will help Forbes and future recipients act on their interests and build health knowledge in the North.
“Hopefully it’s the beginning of more Northerners getting involved in research, especially in health areas,” said Zoe.
It’s part of Hotii ts’eeda’s overall goal of promoting new understanding of health in the Northwest Territories. To that end, the Tlicho government began hosting the organization in March 2018 to support research rooted in Dene Naowo, Inuvialuit and Metis knowledge.
“The purpose of it is to join researchers with communities on health related matters. But we’re also interested not only in the research but growing the research in the North, especially Northern institutions like Aurora College and Aurora Institute,” said Zoe.
He said initiatives like this can be a foundation for building the region’s research capacity and producing a knowledge base with closer connections to its communities.
While there are communities to partner with, much of the research and researchers come from universities in the south where they’re completing graduate degrees, said Zoe. He said efforts tend to match Northern communities with the south “because that’s all we have right now.”
The studentship aims to be a step toward addressing that.
“We want to use the opportunity to grow our own cohorts in the North because they know the communities already. We want to introduce it that way and maybe the knowledge will get out there.”