Dr. Jeff Reading, the inaugural First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness at St. Paul’s.

Meet the Game Changer

Promise Magazine: Spring/Summer 2016

Dr. Jeff Reading has been appointed First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness

After a year-long search, Dr. Jeff Reading, a leading international expert in Indigenous health, has been introduced as the inaugural First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness at St. Paul’s.

“This Chair at St. Paul’s and SFU is a brilliant opportunity to establish timely access to strengths-based, preventative and wellness-focused treatment and care for First Nations communities,” says Reading.

The Chair is a global first and will place a holistic focus on First Nations cardiac health to drive research that can improve First Nations health outcomes. The chair position was co-developed by St. Paul’s, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) with shared funding to support the Chair for 10 years.

As Chair, Reading is a fulltime professor at SFU; conducts clinical research and supports the development of First Nations-centred health programming at St. Paul’s; and has a home office at the FNHA, which will set direction for the chair and oversee the delivery of programming that arises from the work.

As the FNHA’s chair, Reading’s work will be driven primarily from the First Nations’ perspective of health and wellness, and supported through an academic mandate from SFU and clinical research support from St. Paul’s.

“This Chair isn’t going to be driven by the academic or the medical world. It’s going to be balanced,” says Reading, who called it a “systematic shift.”

“We believe Dr. Reading is the perfect candidate to bring a distinct First Nations perspective to the clinical, academic and social determinants at work in this area,” says Joe Gallagher, CEO of the FNHA.

Reading, who is a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga First Nation in Ontario, brings more than two decades of experience in enhancing knowledge in Indigenous health issues—both in Canada and globally. As Chair, Reading will lead research to develop health promotion strategies that encompass cultural and spiritual considerations, and focus on the root causes of poor health outcomes for First Nations.

“The multi-generational traumas of the residential schools experience, and the whole impact of colonization, has put many Indigenous people in the social circumstances of poverty, and poverty determines health across a range of health indicators,” says Reading.

To head of cardiology Dr. Andrew Ignaszewski, the creation of the FNHA Chair is a game-changing event for St. Paul’s and the care it delivers to its First Nations patients and the 400,000 people it serves each year.

“It took a generation of cardiologists and policymakers to finally realize that heart disease is the number-one killer of women of all ages, and only now are programs being created to address that gap,” says Ignaszewski. “This could do the same for First Nations people.”

If you would like to support this exciting initiative, click here to donate.