Dr. Jennifer Walker
Indigenous Health - Canada Research Chair
Jennifer D Walker, PhD
Jennifer Walker is a health services researcher and epidemiologist. She has Indigenous (Haudenosaunee) family roots and is a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River. She has a PhD in Community Health Sciences (Epidemiology specialization) from the University of Calgary. Her work focuses on Indigenous use of Indigenous health and health services data across the life course, with a focus on older adults. She collaborates closely with Indigenous organizations and communities to address health information needs.
Jennifer was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Health at Laurentian University in the School of Rural and Northern Health. She is a Core Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She also holds appointments at the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research, Health Sciences North Research Institute and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
CANADA RESEARCH CHAIR IN INDIGENOUS HEALTH
Working with First Nations and Metis communities and organizations to support Indigenous use of Indigenous health-related data. Dr. Walker’s collaborative research uses population level data on health conditions and services across the life course, with a focus on chronic illness and older populations.
This community-engaged and innovative research program aims to improve the use of Indigenous-identified health data for health services and policy planning.
Enabling Indigenous Use of Indigenous Health Data
While mainstream administrative health data is routinely used for evaluating and improving health systems and policies, only recently have the data systems been in place to enable Indigenous-governed organizations to use Indigenous-identified data in their work. Research and surveillance using these data must be carried out from Indigenous perspectives that recognize the historic and contemporary effects of colonization and the social, political and economic realities in Indigenous populations.
Dr. Walker’s research program supports the effective, community-driven use of health administrative data by Indigenous communities and health service organizations to analyse the health challenges through Indigenous historical, social, cultural, emotional, physical and spiritual perspectives. Her research supports health as “total health of the total person in the total environment” as an accumulation of risk, exposures, and outcomes across the life course.
Specifically, Dr. Walker’s program of research is currently prioritising community-initiated research projects that use data held at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, where she is a Core Scientist and leads the Indigenous Health portfolio of work. She is working to establish and execute data partnership and governance agreements that use Indigenous principles of data governance and ownership as a foundation. Within this structure, she is a Principal Investigator on a First Nations Aging Study, funded by CIHR, that examines age-related frailty and wellness from First Nations perspectives. She is also a co-PI on an OSSU-funded study that aims to use data to reduce the burden of diabetes on First Nations people in Ontario. She also facilitates direct responses to information requests made by Indigenous organizations and communities on large and small research questions, including projects on prescription opioid use, chronic disease, and mental health, among others.