Creating sustainable First Nation economies is focus of new $2.5 million
poverty reduction project: Assembly of First Nations Leads Initiative with
Support of Canadian Institutes of Health Research

WINNIPEG, July 20 /CNW Telbec/ - First Nation communities struggling to break the cycle of poverty and despair will soon be the focus of a major $2.5 million intervention research project aimed at creating long-term strategies for sustainable economies that improve community health and well-being.

"The single greatest challenge that we collectively face is finding solutions that will make poverty history for all Canadians, no matter where they live," said National Chief Atleo. "We know First Nation communities face a unique set of circumstances that require unique and innovative solutions. The Experts Panel that will carry out this research project will provide leading edge information on the way forward. This is the kind of expertise we need to bring new approaches and new thinking to these complex issues which have held back First Nations and Canada for too long. This is important work for First Nations and all Canadians."

The five-year intervention research project, titled "A Poverty Reduction Approach to Improving the Health and Well-Being of First Nation Communities", recently received funding approval from the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health (IAPH), part of the federal Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The study was proposed by the Assembly of First Nations' Make Poverty History Expert Advisory Committee. The committee members are leading academic researchers from across Canada and the United States.

"CIHR, led by the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health, is working with First Nations through funding this project to develop the knowledge base and the tools needed to respond to the unique health challenges faced", said Dr. Malcolm King, an Ojibway academic health researcher working at the University of Alberta and Scientific Director of IAPH. "While we know that poor health arises from a variety of factors such as poverty, colonization and migration, we also know that there are a number of factors which contribute to healthy communities, such as an economic base, self-governance, relevant and culturally appropriate education, language, culture and control of the land."

Dr. Fred Wien, of Dalhousie University, who heads the research team and co-chairs the Make Poverty History Expert Advisory Committee, noted that last year's H1N1 virus outbreak is yet another stark and tragic example of the relationship between poverty and poor health.

"An important part of the solution is to create a sustainable economic base which will provide the foundation for community health and well-being," said Dr. Wien. "While many First Nation communities are struggling with poverty and its effects, some have managed to break out of patterns of dependence and high unemployment. It is important to learn from the experience of the more successful communities."

The research team will work with five volunteer First Nation communities to participate in a research-based assessment that will identify challenges, strengths, and opportunities. The result will be a specific strategic plan that will be implemented in each community, and the outcomes evaluated. The final results will ultimately be expanded to help reduce poverty in communities across the country.

National Chief Shawn Atleo said he hopes the study will strengthen the resolve for government, industry, and civil society to work together with First Nations in creating happy, healthy communities.

    About the AFN

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

    About CIHR

For the past 10 years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has supported better health and healthcare for Canadians. As the Government of Canada's health research investment agency, CIHR enables the creation of evidence-based knowledge and its transformation into improved treatments, prevention and diagnoses, new products and services, and a stronger, patient-oriented healthcare system. Composed of 13 internationally-recognized institutes, CIHR supports more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: For further information: Bryan Hendry, AFN Senior Policy Analyst, Economic Partnerships, Cell 613-293-6106,; David Coulombe, Media Relations, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 613-941-4563, E-mail:

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