Involving Yukoners in their healthcare  

Liris Smith and Michelle Leach

Yukoners can contribute to the direction of their healthcare through a patient-oriented research program. By talking to those with lived experience, Dr. Liris Smith (left) and Dr. Michelle Leach (right) will oversee research that is applicable to Yukoners’ needs. There are 10 other Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) Units across Canada, but the Yukon SPOR Support Unit is about understanding the range of research needs within the Yukon from the community’s perspective and privileging indigenous knowledge. 

This unit will enable research to happen locally and give a voice to people with lived experience, including them in the entire process; forming research priorities, questions, and methodology in partnership with SPOR. The SPOR unit will additionally support many students in doing research in their own communities, so they don’t have to leave the territory. They will do this by seeking partnerships with universities to co-supervise students and obtaining funding from various agencies. 

Currently, the Unit has received a 5-year grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CHIR) with a plan to renew it in the future. Other supports include those from NGOs and the Government of Yukon’s Health and Social Services. The Yukon SPOR unit resides at the YukonU Research Centre. Liris started on this project at the end of August as scientific director, and Michelle joined at the end of November as operations manager. They plan to add three more positions in spring, expanding their reach into the communities. 

Written by student communications assistant, Naomi Dedon.