Government of Canada invests in dementia research about Indigenous Peoples


 Innovative projects in Sudbury will improve support to Indigenous peoples with dementia and their caregivers

February 27, 2017– Sudbury, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Today, Paul Lefebvre, Member of Parliament for Sudbury, on behalf of the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced an investment of $1 million for two research projects that will bring new and culturally-adapted approaches to address the needs of Indigenous peoples living with or at risk of developing dementia. He was joined for the announcement by Marc Serré, Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt.

The new investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will fund the work of top researchers at the Health Sciences North Research Institute and Laurentian University in Sudbury.

  • Dr. Janet McElhaney received $500,000 to use a community-based approach that will combine Indigenous practices with Western technologies to empower caregivers supporting older Indigenous peoples with dementia.
  • Dr. Jennifer Walker received $500,000 to develop a Canadian Indigenous Cognitive Assessment Tool for widespread use and to lay a foundation for a national study of dementia in Indigenous populations.

These projects are part of the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy, which supports research on the latest preventive, diagnostic and treatment approaches to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.


 “The Government of Canada is committed to improving the health of Indigenous peoples. I commend the outstanding researchers recognized today for taking further action to face the challenge of aging and dementia in First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations.” The Honourable Jane Philpott Minister of Health

“This announcement highlights important health research being conducted right here in Sudbury. I’m pleased to see strong collaboration between communities, caregivers, families and individuals living with dementia.” – Paul Lefebvre Member of Parliament for Sudbury

“The research projects announced today will go a long way toward improving what we know about diagnosing and treating dementia among Indigenous peoples. These projects also demonstrate the leadership role the Health Sciences North Research Institute plays in supporting Northern and Indigenous health throughout Greater Sudbury, Nickel Belt, and Northern Ontario.” – Marc Serré Member of Parliament for Nickel Belt

“Through the CIHR Dementia Research Strategy, world-class researchers are working together to provide solutions to issues related to dementia care for rural and Indigenous populations. The Strategy enables Canadian researchers to lead new initiatives that will contribute to the global pursuit of finding a cure or disease-modifying treatment for dementia by 2025.” Dr. Yves Joanette Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aging Lead, CIHR Dementia Research Strategy

 “Investing in projects aimed at advancing our understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ health is a priority for CIHR. I’m confident that the grant recipients will develop culturally appropriate diagnostic tools and care models for both rural and urban Indigenous peoples. New data will help target the best health care services.” – Dr. Carrie Bourassa Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health

Quick Facts

  • Indigenous populations in Canada are at higher risk of developing dementia.
  • Indigenous organizations and communities are working collaboratively with researchers to address health data needs.
  • Rates of dementia are reported to be 34% higher than the non-Indigenous population and rising more quickly.
  • Prevention, early diagnosis and culturally-adapted approaches can improve the health and quality of life of Indigenous peoples. 

Related Links

Dementia in Indigenous Peoples Research Funding Announcement – Project Information

CIHR Dementia Research Strategy Health Sciences North Research Institute Laurentian University Research



Media Relations

Canadian Institutes of Health Research



Maggie Frampton

Communications Health Sciences North Research Institute

705-523-7100 ext 1281



At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada’s health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

 HSNRI is focused on contributing to sustainable solutions for health challenges faced by Ontario’s Northern and Indigenous communities. Our research priority areas – Infection & Immunity, Cancer Solutions, Personalized Medicine and Healthy Aging – are wrapped around a population health focus to achieve health equity for Ontario’s Northern and Indigenous Communities.

Laurentian University offers an outstanding university experience in English and French, with a comprehensive approach to Indigenous education.  Laurentian’s students benefit from small class sizes and exceptional post-graduation employment rates.  With nine Canada Research Chairs and nineteen research centres, Laurentian is a recognized leader in its specialized areas of research strength, which include mining innovation and exploration, stressed watershed systems, particle astrophysics and rural and northern children’s health. Laurentian University has secured over $100 million in research income in the past five years.

For more information on Laurentian University visit





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