Alumna's health research recognized with National Aboriginal Achievement Award
Janet Smylie, Meds’92, has been recognized with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for her extensive research on the health of young Aboriginal families and her work to improve health for First Nations communities across Canada.
“It is profoundly meaningful and humbling at the same time to be recognized with this award,” says Dr. Smylie. “Meaningful because it comes from Aboriginal people and humbling because I know and work with many other dedicated and deserving Aboriginal individuals.”
Dr. Smylie is a family physician and a research scientist at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She also maintains a part-time clinical practice at Seventh Generation Midwives of Toronto.
Thanks to Dr. Smylie’s work to identify and highlight major deficiencies in the provincial and national monitoring of infant mortality among Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, Health Canada’s Canadian Perinatal Surveillance System adopted an Aboriginal ethnicity category as one of its recommended indicators to better monitor maternal, fetal and infant health among Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples.
Currently, Dr. Smylie is working to develop a knowledge centre for Aboriginal infants, children, and their families. She hopes the centre will help ensure that policies, services, and programs for family health benefit from high quality information and tools that reflect both Aboriginal community relevance and scientific excellence. She is also working with an international team to develop and evaluate supportive ways of helping indigenous people with heart disease improve their understanding of their disease and their prescription medications.
“My family and community inspire me to pursue this kind of health research,” says Dr. Smylie. “My mother was one of a very small number of Aboriginal nurses in Canada and my father is a research scientist. I think because of my formative teachings about equality and respect, I continue to be surprised and dismayed when I see inequities—this motivates me to try and do something about it.”
The 19th Annual National Aboriginal Achievement Awards will be held in Vancouver on February 24, 2012. For more information about the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF) and the NAAF Awards, visit the NAAF website.