New Cameco chair to improve Indigenous health outcomes

SASKATOON—The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) has appointed its first research chair in Indigenous health.

As the inaugural Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health, Dr. Alexandra King is set to lead work to improve Indigenous health care in Saskatchewan. Cameco led the way with a forward-looking donation of $1.5 million in 2006 that was instrumental in creating the chair.

Those funds are part of a $3-million endowment established for the chair by the Royal University Hospital Foundation through its Royal Care Campaign. King, an internal medicine specialist, will be based at the College of Medicine for a five-year term beginning October 16, 2017.

A respected medical researcher, physician and teacher, King will work with Indigenous communities and all relevant stakeholders to understand the health and wellness needs of Indigenous peoples and the structural changes that may be needed for improved health outcomes. As well, she will lead work to enhance Indigenous health education; advocate for improvements and funding; ensure sustainability of effective services and supports; and facilitate the sharing and use of knowledge and resources to support improved Indigenous health and wellness.

King will bring leadership skills in culturally responsive research and care, reconciliation, Two-eyed Seeing (understanding the integration of Indigenous and Western worldviews or forms of knowledge) and ethical space—which needs to be created when peoples with disparate worldviews are poised to engage each other. Ultimately, the goal of the chair is measurably improved health outcomes in Indigenous populations in Saskatchewan and the North.

King is from the Nipissing First Nation in Ontario. A specialist in internal medicine focusing on HIV and hepatitis C, she works with patients in a culturally safe way to help them heal from these acute and chronic conditions. She also teaches Indigenous health and has mentored former and current students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at Simon Fraser University, focusing on wellness intervention research with Indigenous people in the areas of land-based healing, health determinants, mental health and addictions, blood-born and sexually transmitted infections, and justice health. King serves on many local and national initiatives, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategy for Patient-oriented Research (SPOR) Patient Engagement and Ethics Working Group, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research Steering Committee, and the Canadian Network on Hepatitis C (CanHepC).

- 30 -

Chair, governing bodies and partner quotes:

“As our nations are working towards reconciliation and renewed relationships, it becomes apparent that for us to close the gap, to achieve health and wellness for Indigenous people, we need to change the paradigm. This is well underway in Saskatchewan, and I’m really excited to be contributing leadership from an Indigenous perspective.” – Dr. Alexandra King, Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health

“We applaud the creation of the Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health – and we welcome Dr. King to this position. We recognize the need to strengthen our partnerships with Indigenous people accessing health care across Saskatchewan.  The creation of this Chair in Indigenous Health is a great step forward in that direction.” – Jim Reiter, Minister of Health, Government of Saskatchewan

“In this time of reconciliation and building integral sustainable partnerships, it is important that we not only build capacity within our communities, but also within our influential organizations.” – Vice-Chief Robert Merasty, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations

“Métis Nation Saskatchewan congratulates Dr. Alexandra King in her work with Indigenous Health communities to move research and health care service delivery forward specific to Indigenous populations. We are confident that Dr. King will support the needs of our people and influence positive strides in health care institutions and practices for all Indigenous peoples.” – Marg Friesen, Minister of Health, Eastern Region III, Métis Nation Saskatchewan  

“Cameco supports the work of the chair because we recognize the importance of improving the physical and mental health of northern and Indigenous people in Saskatchewan. Northerners are valued partners in our business, and providing a safe and healthy workplace is one of our measures of success. We look forward to hearing about Dr. King’s accomplishments.” – Tim Gitzel, president and CEO of Cameco

“Royal University Hospital Foundation commends Cameco for its leadership, innovative thinking and forward-looking support of the Chair in Indigenous Health. You are a great partner. Because of Cameco’s generosity, Royal University Hospital can continue to move forward in the delivery of its founders’ vision – that the people of Saskatchewan have the best health care possible, a right of every citizen in the province.” – Dr. Paul Babyn, volunteer chair, Royal University Hospital Foundation

“We are thrilled to have a physician, educator and researcher of Alexandra’s calibre join our college and our Department of Medicine. Collaborative and mutually beneficial partnerships with Indigenous peoples and communities are central to our mission. This chair is poised to advance our work in this area dramatically.” Dr. Preston Smith, dean of the College of Medicine.

For more information, contact:

Kate Blau
Communication Specialist
College of Medicine
University of Saskatchewan