VANCOUVER — Canada’s first female First Nations general surgeon has been appointed to a newly created position at the University of British Columbia dedicated to improving cancer outcomes and wellness among Indigenous Peoples.
Dr. Nadine Caron will study the experiences and unique needs of Indigenous cancer patients, survivors and their families in her role as the First Nations Health Authority chair in cancer and wellness at the university.
Two years ago, Caron was the senior author on a study that found First Nations people are less likely than non-First Nations people in B.C. to survive a cancer diagnosis.
The study published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control also found some cancers, including colorectal and cervical, are significantly more common among First Nations although the overall cancer incidence rate is lower among the population than among non-First Nations residents.
Caron, who lives in Prince George, B.C., already serves as the co-director of UBC’s Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health and also provides surgical cancer care to rural populations.
Over the course of her five-year term in the new position, she plans to take a holistic approach that acknowledges how colonization, racism, marginalization and poverty have led to the current disparity in health outcomes.
Caron will focus on collecting and reporting Indigenous cancer experiences and outcomes, and better understanding the health care system’s responsiveness to Indigenous cancer care needs.
Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of UBC’s faculty of medicine and vice president of health, says in a statement the school is delighted with her appointment.
“The centuries-old knowledge of the importance of wellness, integral to Indigenous traditional learnings, is now a critical principle informing twenty-first century health care,” he says.
The position is supported by a $1.5 million contribution from the First Nations Health Authority with matching funds from the university.