Grant awarded for strengths-based Indigenous research

February 14, 2023

Nicole Catherine has been awarded a Mowafaghian Child Health Faculty Award, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU for 2023, her second such award in two years.

Holding the Canada Research Chair in Child Health Equity and Policy, Tier 2 and associate director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre, Catherine is a passionate advocate for Indigenous-led initiatives that promote child wellbeing.

The new award, which will be used to financially support the work of an Indigenous graduate student in collaboration with a project Indigenous Advisory Board, “will provide British Columbia’s Indigenous communities with access to timely and relevant research evidence to guide Indigenous child health policy,” Catherine says.

The project’s aim is to collaborate with BC Indigenous communities to generate new knowledge on the strengths and resilience of the 200 Indigenous mothers and 237 Indigenous children who participated in the BC Healthy Connections project (2011–2022), for which Catherine was co-leader.

“The girls and young women demonstrated remarkable strength and resilience in seeking prenatal services in early pregnancy,” Catherine says. The families participated in six research interviews starting in pregnancy through until children were age two years.

Catherine says, “These data belong to BC First Nations. We have an ethical responsibility to ensure that each families’ story, told through their research data, is shared in a respectful and empowering way.”

BC gov’t standing committee welcomes message about children’s mental health

January 10, 2023

Senior members of the Children’s Health Policy Centre (CHPC) team addressed the BC provincial government Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth on Dec. 5/22. This talk was given in collaboration with Jennifer Charlesworth, the BC Representative for Children and Youth.

The topic? How to reduce the number of children needing to come into government care while improving mental health outcomes for those who do.

Christine Schwartz, Simon Fraser University Adjunct Professor, and Charlotte Waddell, CHPC director, were the spokespeople. They shared key findings, including that parents who are at-risk for maltreating their children can be kept out of the government care system with effective interventions, such as the Nurse-Family Partnership program.

“BC policymakers need to be acknowledged for the substantial investments they’ve already made in keeping children with their parents by offering the Nurse-Family Partnership,” said Schwartz. “The program has proven success in supporting children and families.”

Schwartz also spoke about the mental health burdens experienced by children in care. She noted, “As a practicing psychologist, I’ve seen the connection between the trauma children in government care have experienced and the mental health burdens they still carry.”

Still, CHPC team stressed how children who end up in care can have their health needs met with well-proven prevention and treatment interventions such as cognitive-behavioural therapy for anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

CHPC team member named co-investigator on digital child mental health initiative

November 21, 2022

Associate Director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre, Nicole Catherine — who has recently been named Canada Research Chair Tier 2 in Child Health Equity and Policy — is a co-investigator for a new mental health initiative know as DIVERT.

The Digital, Inclusive, Virtual, and Equitable Research Training is a transdisciplinary mental health online training platform dedicated to improving child mental health research and practice in Canada. DIVERT aims to improve inclusion and increase accessibility for underserved children and families.

The national team is funded primarily by a multi-million-dollar investment from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and enabled by a multi-million-dollar investment in digital infrastructure and expertise from IBM Canada.

DIVERT aims to harness the knowledge of a diverse range of educators so they can all learn together through online connections, national mentorship groups based on lived experiences, research collaborations (with children, families, industries, Non-Governmental Organizations and health care organizations), annual in-person meetings, and the future evolution of a certificate program. Anyone can join DIVERT Mental Health. Doctoral students, post-doctoral trainees and early career researchers conducting research on digital child mental health are encouraged to apply.

Building on her research expertise, Catherine will be mentoring three trainees and providing lectures on child health equity and policy and on efforts to better support underserved children and families.

Child heath policy researcher earns major award

November 17, 2022

Nicole Catherine has been officially been named Canada Research Chair (CRC) Tier 2 in Child Health Equity and Policy. And, with this announcement, she has also become the new Associate Director of the Children’s Health Policy Centre.

The announcement of her CRC appointment, which was made yesterday in Ottawa, is highly significant and a tremendous honour. The CRC program provides universities with the opportunity to recruit world-class scholars who are emerging global leaders in their field.

Catherine joined the CHPC team in 2012 when she was named Scientific Director, and later Co-Principal Investigator, for the BC Healthy Connections Project. She became the Mowafaghian University Research Associate in 2013 and was appointed Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU in 2022.

Catherine’s research to date has focused on three areas:

  • Ensuring better inclusion of children who are experiencing disadvantage — in both research and policy-making
  • Promoting health and wellbeing in early childhood through public health programming
  • Informing the development and evaluation of interventions that address avoidable early childhood adversities and health inequities.

“I continue to be inspired by the children and young mothers who generously contribute to this research,” Catherine said in reflecting on her award.

CHPC director Charlotte Waddell, had an enthusiastic response to the announcement. “I find Nicole’s commitment to scholarship and to children to be exemplary,” she said. “And she could not be a more creative and supportive person to work with. We are thrilled with this news.”

A story on Catherine can also be found on the website of SFU’s Faculty of Heath Sciences.