Two UNBC researchers are trying to combat racism in the healthcare system.

Dr. Sarah de Leeuw and Dr. Margo Greenwood received $1.3 million to embark on a five year research project focused on enhancing Indigenous health in Northern B.C.

“Anti-Indigenous racism is a reality within the healthcare system, I’m not alone in that belief, and it’s not a particularly radical belief. There’s a lot of literature and a lot of research that shows Indigenous people still experience second-class healthcare” said Leeuw.

“We are not suggesting that we are going to find all the answers in five years, this is a very long process. It’s a change process that might take a generation of healthcare professionals slowly changing attitudes and embracing new ways of knowing and practicing.”

She said there are a lot of reasons healthcare is second-rate, ranging anywhere from cultural cliches to lack of transportation from smaller communities, and they’ll be bringing together a “wide range of researchers and stakeholders” to help develop and put solutions in place.

“We need to have frank, open and heartfelt conversations about this. I believe that all Canadians are invested in wanting a healthcare system that is the best for all the people it serves.”

Keynote partners on the five-year project include numerous Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders across the North, including Northern Health, Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health and The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.