Lakehead University researchers receiving grants to assist seniors, Indigenous workers

Photo of Dr. Michel Bedard and Dr. Vicki Kristman.

October 10, 2017 – Thunder Bay, ON

Lakehead University professors are receiving more than $1 million from the CIHR to assist older adults who stop driving and to help Indigenous people who experience violence in the workplace, among other important projects.

Dr. Michel Bédard is receiving a Project grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He will use $409,275 to spend five years researching the negative and positive impacts that older adults experience when they must stop driving. 

“We will have a better sense of what may protect older adults from the negative aspects and what may promote the positive aspects of not driving,” Dr. Bédard said.

“We will also obtain a better understanding of the impact on mobility and access to services. This information will put us in a better position to inform the development of interventions to support older adults as they transition from driving to non-driving.”   

Dr. Bédard, Director of Lakehead’s Centre for Research on Safe Driving and Dean of Health and Behavioural Sciences, said some of the negative impacts that older adults experience from not being able to drive can include depression, feelings of burdening others, and reduced involvement in community activities.

“An important aspect is that older adults will typically spend the last seven to 10 years of their lives as a non-driver. Maintaining independence and quality of life without driving can be particularly challenging in rural and remote regions,” he said.

And public transportation isn’t necessarily an option, either. “For most seniors who stop driving, using public transportation is equally challenging.  Often the health conditions that cause someone to stop driving also prevent the use of public transportation,” Dr. Bédard said.

Dr. Vicki Kristman, Associate Professor in Health Sciences, is receiving a $75,000 Catalyst Grant from the CIHR to spend one year working with the Nokiiwin Tribal Council to create a culturally-relevant app to assist Indigenous people who are experiencing violence or unkind behaviour in the workplace, whether they live on reserve or off.

“Maybe a colleague is harassing them and they’re not sure where they can turn for assistance,” Dr. Kristman said. “This app will help them determine what they should do by connecting them with someone in another Indigenous community who may offer advice or even suggesting they call 911.”

The app will also include a short questionnaire geared toward Indigenous people, to gauge their mental health in the workplace and provide suggestions for improvement.

“How often people use the app will provide the communities with an overall sense of the prevalence of mental health concerns in the workplace,” Dr. Kristman said, adding that initial reactions to the app idea have been positive.

“We want to understand the burden they are facing and find ways to assist,” she said.

A prototype has been created, and the next step will be to complete the final version. Dr. Kristman said the app has the potential to increase Indigenous participation in employment, reduce workplace disability, and improve the mental health of the Indigenous population.

Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said he is impressed by the exceptional research happening at Lakehead University.

“These research projects in particular will have benefits in Northern Ontario, throughout Canada and perhaps even internationally. Thank you to the CIHR for recognizing this important research and thanks to our researchers for doing exceptional work.”

Funding from the CIHR also generates support from the federal Research Support Fund to offset the indirect costs of research incurred by universities. In 2017/18, Lakehead University will receive nearly $2 million in assistance from the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs of research, which includes costs for supporting the management of intellectual property, research and administration, ethics and regulatory compliance, research resources, and research facilities.


New CIHR Grants 2016-17

Faculty Member Awards

Project Grant (five-year award)

Dr. Michel Bédard, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, “On the road to promoting mobility and health after driving cessation among older adults,” $409,275.


  • Shawn Marshall, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Nadia Mullen, Lakehead University
  • Gary Naglie, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
  • Mark Rapoport, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Arne Stinchcombe, University of Ottawa
  • Holly Tuokko, University of Victoria
  • Bruce Weaver, Faculty of Medicine, West Campus, Lakehead University
  • Shephanie Yamin, Saint Paul University

Catalyst Grants (one-year awards)

Dr. Michel Bédard, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Catalyst Grant:  Analysis of CLSA Data, “Buffering negative health outcomes following driving cessation among older adults: analysis of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA),” $65,400.


  • Sylvain Gagnon, University of Ottawa
  • Gary Nagile, Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
  • Mark Rapoport, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Arne Stinchcombe, University of Ottawa
  • Holly Tuokko, University of Victoria
  • Bruce Weaver, Faculty of Medicine, West Campus, Lakehead University

Dr. Vicki Kristman, Health Sciences, Catalyst Grant:  Work Stress and Wellbeing Hackathon, “Designing an E-health intervention for Indigenous mental health in the workplace: a partnership with the Nokiiwin Tribal Council,” $75,000.

Principal Knowledge User:

Audrey Gibeau, Nokiiwin Tribal Council

Embedded Clinician Researcher Salary Award  (four-year award)

Naana Jumah, “Faculty of Medicine, West Campus, Addressing Transitions in Care: An Indigenous-based, Integrated Care Pathway for Opioid Dependence in Pregnancy in Northwestern Ontario”, $300,000.

Graduate Student Awards

Doctoral Research Award (three years) – Priority Announcement:  Research in First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit Health

Nicole Marshall, Department of Psychology (Dr. Chris Mushquash, supervisor), “Evaluating an On-Reserve Methadone Maintenance Therapy Program for First Nations Peoples,” $108,000.

Master's Award: Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships (one year)

Brittany A. Pennock, School of Kinesiology, (Dr. Derek Kivi and Dr. Carlos Zerpa, co-supervisors)"Examining the Effect of Isometric Cervical Strength, Head Impact Mechanism, and Head Impact Location, on Concussion Risk in Female Ice Hockey Players,” $17,500.

Chris Viel, Department of Health Sciences, (Dr. Vicki Kristman, supervisor) “The association between mental health training and supervisor accommodation and stigma,” $17,500.

Catherine Chambers-Bedard, Public Health, (Dr. Vicki Kristman, supervisor) “The combined effect of socioeconomic status and compensation policy on return to work following musculoskeletal injuries,” $17,500.

Grand Total:  $1,010,175



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Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. In 2016, for the second consecutive year, Re$earch Infosource ranked Lakehead first among Canada’s undergraduate universities. Visit