Lyana Patrick is the Faculty of Health Sciences' new assistant professor in Indigenous health.

New Indigenous health researcher aims to build healthier, more connected communities

November 19, 2019

By Clement Woo

As one of the Faculty of Health Sciences’ new assistant professors in Indigenous health, Lyana Patrick looks forward to pursuing research projects that advance Indigenous understandings of health and wellness.

“I think my focus on self-determination in Indigenous health and well-being at the community level contributes to existing work,” says Patrick, who is Dakelh from the Stellat’en First Nation, as well as Acadian/Scottish.

 “This helps create pathways for future scholars, especially Indigenous students, to think about health in critical and culturally meaningful ways.”

Patrick’s research will build on her PhD work examining factors that hinder or help Indigenous peoples to create community connectedness in urban and rural communities.

“I’m interested in how connections might be made between urban Indigenous planning and efforts in First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities,” she explains. “In particular, I will be focusing on projects that explore identity and belonging and that seek to break down the rural-urban divide.”

As her own research spans multiple disciplines, Patrick was drawn to FHS because of its faculty members’ and students’ diverse research and teaching interests, both at home and abroad.

“I would love to work with researchers and community members who work in the areas of justice, health, geography, Indigenous studies and community and environmental studies to develop an intersectoral research program on justice and health,” she says.

While working in treaty negotiations with the B.C. provincial government, Patrick decided to pursue a master’s in Indigenous governance to expand her understanding of the inequitable political and economic relationships she witnessed. This program eventually led her to the PhD program in UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning, where she brought her knowledge of colonial history and the on-going impacts of settler colonialism to bear on community health and well-being.

One of the projects she has worked on is the “DUDES Club,” a health-promotion model for Indigenous men that aims to build solidarity and brotherhood. Currently, she is working in the Transformative Health and Justice Research Cluster at UBC, which examines health and social inequities in the context of justice.

At SFU, she is looking forward to developing relationships in the City of Surrey and to working with community partners, Indigenous organizations and local health authorities to co-create opportunities grounded in community collaboration and participatory approaches to research and student learning.

Patrick will be co-developing an Indigenous health curriculum to serve as a foundation for students to learn about the history and contemporary experiences of Indigenous peoples in Canada. She hopes they’ll also reflect on their responsibility to this history and on the commitments they can make to create lasting, structural change in relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

“I’m really excited about creating community-engaged learning opportunities for both students and faculty members at SFU and beyond.”