Supporting Elders Living with Frailty in Remote Indigenous Communities in Northwestern Ontario: Developing the Role of a Community Rehabilitation Worker

CRaNHR faculty and staff, Drs. Helle Moeller and Mary Ellen Hill, supported this project, which was designed to develop and evaluate a curriculum to give local health workers the skills to support rehabilitation of Elders living in remote communities. With support of Indigenous Services Canada, Home and Community Care, Ontario Region, the inaugural class of eight students will begin the training through Confederation College and participating communities in January 2022. Article included in Physiotherapy Today.

Updates - September 2019

New Projects

October 2018, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit received a 5-year grant (2018-23) of almost $1 M from the Public Health Agency of Canada to deliver a Youth Violence Prevention Project for students in Grades 7 through 9. CRaNHR, which partnered in the project proposal, is responsible for evaluation.

February 2019, CRaNHR was commissioned by Nishnawbe Aski Nation to conduct a 14-month evaluation of the Choose Life initiative (2019-20). Funded by Indigenous Services Canada, the evaluation will document the development and outcomes of youth wellness projects in 60 First Nations and Indigenous organizations across Northern Ontario.

March 2019, CRaNHR was awarded a 5-year contract to conduct an independent evaluation of the City of Thunder Bay and Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Strategy Youth Inclusion Program, which received $5.6 M funding from Public Safety Canada. CRaNHR is responsible for evaluating development processes and outcomes for this 12-component program.

March 2019, CRaNHR was commissioned by the Thunderbird Foundation to conduct a 3-year (2020-23) systematic literature review and Indigenous knowledge exchange engagement on the health impacts of cannabis, effects of legalization and best public health approaches for minimizing risks for vulnerable populations.

April 2019, CRaNHR was awarded a 3-year contract (2020-23) to evaluate the development of the NOSM Remote First Nations Family Medicine Residency Stream, which trains physicians for work in remote First Nations. The evaluation is being conducted in partnership with Matawa First Nations and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Ongoing Projects 

Drs. Jumah and Mushquash continue to work on the MOHLTC HSRF integrated research and knowledge translation program (Opioid Dependence in Rural, Remote and Northern Communities). This 3.5 year program (2017-20) was awarded $1.9 M to develop and evaluate two community-based projects to improve Indigenous reproductive health choices. Although the province terminated all MOHLTC HSRF grants effective October 2019, evaluation of the Maternal-Infant Support Worker Program component will continue with support from Dr. Jumah's CIHR Career Scientist Award.

Congratulations to Dr. Chris Mushquash!

CRaNHR wishes to congratulate our Director, Dr. Chris Mushquash, on his 3-year appointment as Associate Vice President, Research at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, and Chief Scientist of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute.

Mae Katt to be presented with honourary degree from Trent University

CRaNHR and DFC's Mae Katt is being presented with an honourary doctorate of laws from Trent University for her work in the area of First Nations health.

 The following is an excerpt from the Trent U article:

Mae Katt
Virginia May Katt (Mae Katt) is a member of Temagami First Nation (Ojibway) and a justice advocate. She is a primary health care nurse practitioner with an expansive skill set in Thunder Bay, Ontario.  Her forty-year career as a clinician, health administrator, educator, advocate and researcher has been dedicated to improving all aspects of First Nations health in northern communities.

Ms. Katt develops programs and teams to treat prescription dependence and provide opiate addiction treatment. Her work on a program at a First Nations high school lead to a significant drop in student opioid use. Her efforts with drug addiction have also received media attention from outlets including the Globe and MailCBC Radio, and were featured in the documentary, Rings of Fire.

As a member of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, she developed best practice guidelines regarding substance abuse. Ms. Katt also worked in senior management positions at Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health (Ontario) and Nishnawbe Aski Nation, representing many Ojibway and Cree First Nations in northern Ontario. She developed the Native Nursing Entry program at the School of Nursing at Lakehead University and became its first coordinator.

Congratulations, Mae!

Youth Violence Prevention Project

The TBDHU is grateful to have received $995,000 in funding, over 5 years from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to implement the Youth Violence Prevention Project throughout the city of Thunder Bay and District. This exciting initiative provides the capacity to implement a school-based, skills-focused, healthy relationships program aimed at preventing teen dating violence and related risk behaviours for Grade 7-9 youth in our region.

Project partners include:

  • Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council
  • Thunder Bay Drug Strategy
  • Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (Lakehead University)
  • Lakehead District School Board
  • Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board
  • Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique des Aurores Boreales
  • Northern Nishnawbe Education Council
  • Matawa Learning Centre
  • Superior Greenstone District School Board
  • Superior North Catholic District School Board

Together we will implement the Fourth R, an evidence-based program that addresses the Grade 7-9 Ontario Health Curriculum with units on:

1.   Personal Safety & Injury Prevention

2.   Substance Use, Addictions and Related Behaviours

3.   Human Development and Sexual Health

4.   Healthy Eating

The Fourth R applies a youth-focused, strengths-based strategy to empower students with the knowledge, positive relationship skills and decision-making abilities to target the unhealthy behaviours and attitudes that contribute to teen violence perpetration and victimization.

The Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research is one of the principle partners in the project.  Working with the partners, we assisted in the development of the proposal, and will conduct a project evaluation to document what works or doesn’t work in teen dating violence prevention and programming locally.  Innovations to the program include creating a youth-informed Booster module for Grade 10 students and enhancing the Grade 9 Indigenous Informed version of the curriculum to reflect our Northern context.

As we implement and evaluate the Fourth R in schools throughout our district, we anticipate that there will be positive and sustained changes in attitude, knowledge, skills and behaviours among staff and students and we will increase the capacity in schools to implement healthy relationships programming. In the long-term, we hope this innovation will reduce teen dating violence and gender-based violence in Thunder Bay and District.  

Youth Violence Project partners

Results from the Northern Centre of Excellence for Addiction and Mental Health Region-Wide Engagement

CRaNHR and the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy are excited to present the findings from their collaborative research and regional engagement process towards the establishment of a Northern Centre of Excellence for Addiction and Mental Health.

Over 200 people across Northern Ontario were invited to take part in the engagement sessions; 95% of those who participated in the sessions were in favour of developing a Centre of Excellence for Addiction and Mental Health.

Below are infographics outlining the overall findings of the engagement, as well as the findings for each individual district.

Overall report

One-page summary

Northern District

Kenora District

Rainy River District

Thunder Bay City

Thunder Bay District

Click here to visit the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy website where you can listen to the presentation of the results given by Cynthia Olsen, Coordinator of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, and Drs. Chris Mushquash and Mary Ellen Hill of CRaNHR.


Saskatchewan Mental Wellness Evaluation 2016

CRaNHR is pleased to present the completed report for "It Takes a Whole Community": An Evaluation of Saskatchewan First Nations Mental Wellness Teams. This two-year evaluation, commissioned by Health Canada, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, examined the implementation of the Athabasca Health Authority, File Hills-Qu’Appelle Tribal Council, Onion Lake First Nation and Prince Albert Grand Council Mental Wellness Teams. The report highlights the success that each team experienced while developing local mental wellness supports, including traditional culture- and land-based approaches to care. It also documented resource challenges in meeting increased demands for care at community, regional and provincial levels. The report concludes with a summary of lessons learned about using team-based approaches to mental wellness, which may be applicable to a broader audience, including other mental wellness teams, stakeholders and funders.