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Indigenous Mentoring Network hub launches at Queen's

A group of Indigenous scholars and staff officially join a national initiative and make plans for the year ahead.

  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Heather Castleden]
    Heather Castleden is one of three heads of the Indigenous Mentorship Network hub at Queen's, though she says she intends to turn over leadership of the hub to Indigenous health scholars. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Jesse Maracle Brittany McBeath Andrea Ianni CIHR students]
    Indigenous students Jesse Maracle, Brittany McBeath, and Andrea Ianni spoke to launch attendees about the value of mentorship. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network]
    After the panelists' remarks, attendees broke out into groups to set priorities for the year. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Jesse Maracle CIHR students]
    Each group answered six questions to help the network hub set priorities for the coming year. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's Indigenous Mentorship Network Tara CIHR students]
    Attendees also completed a digital survey using their phones and laptops. Priorities included networking and professional development opportunities. (University Communications)

Queen’s recently hosted the launch for the local link in a province-wide initiative designed to support and grow the next generation of Indigenous health scholars.

The Indigenous Health Network is a national program funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research, and supported by a number of host institutions including Queen’s. The launch of the Queen’s network hub, IMN-Queen's, brought together students, faculty, staff, and community members for a recent day-long conference to learn, share, and plan.

The conference included a webinar featuring Chantelle Richmond, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health and the Environment at Western University. Following Dr. Richmond’s remarks, a student panel featuring four Indigenous Queen’s students – two graduate and two undergraduate – spoke on the value of mentorship. Brittany McBeath, a graduate student in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, called the event inspiring and thought-provoking.

“It was most valuable to have been able to hear input from Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and health professionals about the role they wish IMN-Queen’s to play within our local academic community,” she says. “It is my hope that the network will serve as the glue that brings Indigenous and allied scholars and professionals from all disciplines together with the common goal of empowering Indigenous ways of knowing and doing through their work. This local network has the potential to create a space of sharing and of support for Indigenous health researchers at Queen’s.”

The Queen’s network hub is currently headed up by a team of three non-Indigenous faculty members, including Heather Castleden, the Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities; Michael Green, the Brian Hennen Chair and Head of the Department of Family Medicine; and Lucie Lévesque, Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. Dr. Castleden is quick to point out that this group is merely initiating this network and they plan to take a back seat to Indigenous health scholars once it is established.

“We are all on a lifelong learning journey and need mentors along the way. I was fortunate to have tremendous mentorship from Indigenous scholars and community-based knowledge-holders through CIHR’s early networks, and it is our turn to pay it forward,” she says.

The day concluded with working group sessions designed to explore the value a mentorship network could have for its participants.

Part of establishing this hub involved setting local priorities for the year ahead. Following a survey of participants at the conference, the team behind the network is working to host networking and speaker events.

One such event is coming up on Wednesday, Nov. 21 beginning at 3 pm, where mentors and mentees (or those seeking mentorship) will gather on campus for a networking event.

The hub is also planning a 2019 summer institute which will be co-hosted with fellow eastern Ontario university Indigenous Mentoring Network participants. The institute will be themed around “Bridging Indigenous epistemologies and research methodologies” and will provide training for Indigenous communities, as well as Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and policy-makers.

Those looking to join the Queen’s network hub’s mailing list should email IndigenousMentorshipNetwork@queensu.ca.

CIHR’s Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health has funded eight Networks across the country, including the Ontario network. The Office of the Vice-Principal (Research) and the Faculty of Health Sciences have provided top up funding to the Queen’s network hub.

To learn more about the Institute, visit CIHR’s website.