Indigenous environmental health research secures $1.3M grant

August 09, 2021

Diana Lewis, professor in Indigenous Studies and Geography and Environment

Western professor Diana Lewis is getting a $1.3-million-dollar boost for her research on the effects of industrial developments on Indigenous populations.

The grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will support Lewis’ work co-developing community and value-based frameworks to assess the environmental and health impacts felt by Indigenous populations living near industrial sites.

Lewis, a professor in the Indigenous Studies program and Department of Geography and Environment, is one of 15 Western researchers to receive a project grant, totaling over $12 million, in the CIHR spring 2021 competition.

To have her work recognized by the federal funding agency was as significant as the financial support.

“When I saw the initial notice, I started to shake,” Lewis said. “I think it took about two to three hours for me to calm down because this has been my life and passion since 2008.”

The award advances research she first conducted working with members of the Pictou Landing First Nation in Nova Scotia over a decade ago. The community was bordered by a lagoon known as “A’se’k”; a culturally significant area where the residents’ ancestors once seasonally hunted and fished. The A’se’k also became the dumping ground for 85 litres of effluent a day from a nearby pulp and paper mill – for more than 50 years – until it was forced to close in 2020.

Read the full story by Keri Ferguson, at Western News