My research vision is to embed principles of two-eyed seeing into the development and translation of evidence-based health and social interventions for Indigenous led practice, holistic community-based prevention efforts, harm reduction, and changes that support the de-commodification of First Nation peoples in the health care system.
Substance misuse issues in our region are complex social and health issues. In order to be effective, interventions require evidence-based approaches, an understanding of the biological, psychosocial and social factors and an acknowledgement of the important impact of cultural, societal, and policy contexts.
I am honored to represent Dilico Anishinabek Family Care as a member of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute Board and to bring a different lens to the conversation. I was inspired to join the Board to support work that makes a difference for our region, to reduce health inequities, but more importantly to inform and enhance interventions and services that improve population health at a systems level in the North.
In terms of the Health Research Institute itself, it is important for people to understand the diversity of research that is underway to inform the future of the health care system and to foster innovation in the delivery of care to populations in the North. The Health Research Institute is rich in collaborative partnerships and relationships that allow for the cultivation of a talented landscape of learners and scientists interacting and solving some of our most pressing societal concerns while building the knowledge base to support future work.
I am a proud band member of the Mississaugas of the Credit and father of three children. I have 20 years of experience in the addiction and mental health sector, spent primarily working with Indigenous populations. I have been honored to serve as the Director of Mental Health and Addictions for Dilico Anishinabek Family Care since 2013. In this role, I have advocated and collaborated tirelessly to build the evidence base for cultural interventions and to build out a continuum of addiction and mental health care that is responsive to the complex wellness needs of the people we serve. I was born and raised in Port Dover, Ontario and relocated to attend Lakehead University and fell in love with the lifestyle and climate of Thunder Bay.
The Vision Statement for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), “Innovative education and research for a healthier north”, captures the passion and philosophy of those of us who work and learn at NOSM. As the Associate Dean, Research I have the pleasure of working with bright and innovative researchers. They tackle tough problems, using research approaches that do not always lend themselves to traditional western research methodologies. Researchers include bench scientists working on chronic and infectious diseases, biomedical scientists tackling difficult health and environmental questions, social scientists studying Indigenous health issues, the complexity of distributed medical education and social accountability and clinical scientists planning better and improved methods for treating patients in rural and remote settings.
While I have been at NOSM I have participated in research focused on a better understanding of recruitment and retention of health care providers in northern and underserviced areas. Together with partners from Northern Europe, NOSM participates in the “Recruit and Retain – Making it Work” project. NOSM’s unique approach to education has demonstrated the importance of training students “in the north for the north”. This and other approaches have provided a model for addressing health work force stability and are now being tested by each of the partners. At NOSM, our project involves collaborating with colleagues in Nunavut on health workforce recruitment and retention. The work contributes to a global effort working to improve health service delivery in rural, remote and underserviced populations through organizations such as Training for Health Equity Network, an international organization, of which NOSM was a founding member.
I have been a member of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute Board of Directors for the past four years as the NOSM representative. The Board provides a great opportunity to see first hand the research being done both at our Hospital and beyond and provides an opportunity to network with researchers, business personnel, entrepreneurs and health care providers. Research involves working with motivated and knowledgeable individuals and the Board provides an opportunity to hear directly from our research scientists, engage in inspiring conversation and plann with a diverse cross-section of colleagues all interested in improving health and health care delivery.
I think people would be surprised to know that our Hospital is an active research site and that the Health Research Institute Board is actively engaged in strategies to promote and advance best practices, based on research evidence and innovation conducted in Thunder Bay. Our research scientists are national and international stars in their fields and the research conducted at the Health Research Institute is known across the world.
I am a Physiologist, with a PhD from McGill University. I did post-doctoral research at Harvard and Tufts New England Medical Centre in Boston. I spent most of my research career as a Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, including eleven years as Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Medicine. I worked as Director of Ethics and the Strategy for Patient Oriented Research at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) before taking the position of Associate Dean Research at NOSM.
Thunder Bay is unlike other cities in Ontario in that local health care providers are not only responsible for servicing the city and its immediate surroundings, but for servicing the entirety of Northwestern Ontario. For patients living in outlying communities, geographical remoteness can result in delayed diagnosis and restricted access to ongoing treatment of chronic diseases. I envision a health care system which is equally as accessible by patients living in both Thunder Bay’s surrounding areas and remote communities. Through continued innovation in health research, I believe the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute can attract the scientists, scholars, clinicians, and funding support to effectively meet the health care needs of the entire Northwestern Ontario region.
As a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay, I am familiar with the unique demands of our local health care system and have a vested interest in improving the present and future health outcomes for the people of Northwestern Ontario. Becoming a member of the Health Research Institute Board of Directors will allow me an opportunity to further educate myself on the challenges faced by our health care professionals in achieving their goals and assist with improving the standard of clinical research in the region.
For those not familiar with the Health Research Institute, they may be surprised to learn that the Hospital, for which the Health Research Institute functions as a research arm, ranks among the leading health research institutions in the country. Research facilities of similar calibre are typically found in major metropolitan centres. This serves as a source of pride for the Thunder Bay community, and also provides patients of the Hospital with access to cutting-edge health care technology and treatment methods.
About James Peotto
James is the Senior Accountant, Reporting and Compliance for North American Palladium (NAP). He is responsible for the timely preparation of relevant and reliable financial reporting, as well as monitoring of internal controls and compliance with various regulatory bodies. Prior to his employment at NAP James worked as a Staff Accountant for BDO Canada’s Thunder Bay office, where he completed his Chartered Accountant (CPA, CA) designation. James graduated from Lakehead University in 2013 with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce (H.B. Com, Accounting) degree. He has also worked for the City of Thunder Bay Finance department and tutored accounting at Confederation College.