Sheryl Thompson

Cree-Métis scholar says health key to building strong communities

December 22, 2021

SFU master’s student and Cree-Métis scholar Sheryl Thompson was awarded an Indigenous Graduate Entrance Scholarship in 2019 for her research in health.

“I focus on health research because everything relates to it—the legal system, education, culture and all aspects of life,” says Thompson. “If we want to build and support strong communities, we need health.”

Thompson also recognizes the need for Indigenous researchers in the health field. Supervised by professor Kelley Lee in the Faculty of Health Sciences, she aims to conduct a “culturally safe and Indigenous-led process” in which Indigenous communities inform her study.

Working with the First Nations Health Authority, Thompson is examining commercial tobacco use in five Indigenous communities in B.C.: Witset First Nation, Tla’amin First Nation, Adams Lake Indian Band, Katzie First Nation, and Cowichan Tribes. She travels to each of these communities, engaging members through town hall meetings, focus groups and interviews.

By the end of her research, she plans to make her findings accessible to these communities through posters, film and other media. She is also creating a toolkit for researchers working with Indigenous communities, recommending steps for conducting culturally respectful research and reducing the risk of harm.

The scholarship will support Thompson as she networks with researchers from other disciplines and perspectives. She sees it as a platform for discussing the importance of support programs for Indigenous learners, many of whom are first-generation post- secondary students.