Continuing to Evolve
Dr. Mariette Chartier, Senior Research Scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
I first heard about the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy in the early 1990s. I was drawn to the Centre then although it would not be until 2008 that I actually began working there as a research scientist. It had – and still has – the reputation for innovative, cutting-edge research and using administrative data in creative ways to answer questions relevant to Manitoba and beyond.
MCHP is perpetually changing. We have acquired databases beyond those related to health services which have permitted us to not only study health but social services and justice system involvement questions as well. We are striving to render the complex datasets more accessible to students and a wider range of researchers. Recently, we have built strong relationships with First Nations community members, program planners, service providers, and policymakers to work with them on research questions that are meaningful to them. MCHP has worked hard at ensuring that the research is communicated to the public at large through brief summaries, videos, and infographics.
My first career was in Nursing where I learned about human relationships, health, illness, birth, and death. Caring for people afflicted with illness brought me a high degree of fulfillment, however, the idea of understanding illness from a population perspective fascinated me. How widespread are the health problems? Are certain people more susceptible to illness than others? What factors are associated with certain health problems? These questions led me through a Bachelor’s degree in Science specializing in Mathematics and Statistics, a Master’s degree and Doctorate in Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba.
An inspiring moment that comes to mind is during a recent Zoom conference call with Knowledge Keepers to discuss early results on the health of First Nations children. The Knowledge Keepers are First Nations Elders from Anishinaabeg, Cree, Ojiway-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Nations, whose experience and knowledge helped guide the report. They are also grandparents with a profound love for their grandchildren. The Knowledge Keepers saw the report as a way to determine if their actions were working and resolved that it would not gather dust on a shelf. They spoke of the need to renew their identity, to get back to the land, their language, their ceremonies, their ancestral ways, and to the understanding of the sacredness of life. I listened in admiration of their strength, wisdom, and courage. It was a privilege to be among them that day and it filled me with hope.
We have been fortunate at MCHP to have strong leadership, first from Drs. Noralou and Les Roos, then Dr. Patricia Martens and now Dr. Alan Katz. MCHP will focus on what it does best, using large complex datasets linked together to learn how to keep people healthy. It will continue to evolve as the world around us evolves.
Dr. Mariette Chartier
Senior Research Scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy