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Two Yellowknife nursing students have each been awarded studentship stipends worth $20,000 to support them while they conduct health research projects.

Erica Abel and Marisa McArthur, both third-year Aurora College Bachelor of Science in Nursing students are the recipients of the 2020 Edets’seèhdzà Studentships, according to a news release from the Hotıì ts’eeda health research organization, which funds the studentship and provides it jointly with and Aurora College/Aurora Research Institute.

This is the second year the Edets’seèhdzà Studentship program has been running, after Aurora College nursing student Allison Forbes was its first recipient in 2019.

RELATED REPORTING: Allison Forbes receives first-ever Edets’seehdza studentship

Abel, a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation was informed she was a winner on Tuesday and said she was “speechless” at the news.

Erica Abel, an Aurora College nursing student is one of the recipients of the 2020 Edets’seèhdzà Studentships offered by the Hotıì ts’eeda health research organization and Aurora College/Aurora Research Institute. photo courtesy of Erica Abel

“It was quite a bit of money and I’m certain quite a few people have applied for that. I’m extremely grateful and humble in receiving this recognition. I am eager to be able to work alongside with great minds whose heart is to better the people of the North,” she said in a phone interview.

For her research project she wants to study issues related to addictions in the North.

“We have such high rates (of addiction) and there’s a lot of unresolved trauma in the North and there are no treatment centres. Hopefully I can find out the reasons why. Maybe it’s a government problem? Maybe the facilities haven’t been upgraded?”

McArthur is interested in social epidemiology and said in the news release about the awards that “locally driven Indigenous health research has the power to cultivate meaningful change in the communities in which we live.”

The studentship of Edets’seèhdzà, which means “stepping forward to challenge yourself” in the Tłı̨chǫ language can be completed part-time while a student is in the nursing program or full-time during the summer.

“This is an experience that helps the students build their skills and confidence so they can learn what the research world is like,” said Stephanie Irlbacher-Fox, Scientific Director with Hotıì ts’eeda.

Abel said she would be better prepared to do it in the summer after she finishes her program’s consolidated practice experience in June.

“The opportunity to engage in health-related research while pursuing studies provides Aurora College students a rich opportunity to anchor learning in Northern communities,” said Aurora College president Andy Bevan. “Aurora College and Aurora Research Institute are proud to support the Edets’seèhdzà Studentship and our two outstanding recipients, Erica Abel and Marisa McArthur.”

The students will work with Dr. Pertice Moffitt, Aurora Research Institute Manager of Health Research Programs. Moffitt’s team recently received funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) for the project “Welcoming the Sacred Spirit,” a three-year collaborative project looking at Indigenous maternal health care in Canada.

One of the aims of the studentship is to have the students included as co-authors in any publications on their research, said Irlbacher-Fox.

“Hotıì ts’eeda would support them to go to a conference to co-present the research. We would (also) support them to attend our annual Ełèts’ehdèe research gathering.”

Last year, Moffitt worked with Edets’seèhdzà recipient Forbes in the summer on research related to actions against family violence.

Hotıì ts’eeda is funded by CIHR and is a research support unit hosted by the Tłı̨chǫ Government.

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Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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