Indigenous Health Promotion and Cultural Safety Lab

Lead Investigator Dr. Donna Kurtz

As a Collective of Indigenous Peoples and allies, this multi-sector partnership uses culturally safe ways to foster respectful anti-racist, non-discriminatory health care provision and policy change.

The Collective is guided by decolonizing and Indigenous community-led approaches for wholistic Traditional and Western health and wellness health equity research that honors locally distinctive knowledge, experiences, and protocols that benefit all generations. As a Collective of Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Healers, community members, youth and young adults across several Friendship and Métis Centres in the BC Interior, cultural safety education and environments are defined according to community-identified needs and ways of knowing and doing.

In response to the Truth and Reconciliation and In Plain Sight reports, our intention is to recruit, mentor and retain Indigenous undergraduate and graduate students, co-develop culturally safe and relevant curricula, and engage in research inclusive of Indigenous knowledge, philosophies and perspectives.

Current projects include urban, rural/remote health promotion and chronic disease prevention and self-management and urban Indigenous youth/young adult identity and cross-generational learning/relearning about Traditional wellness.


Research Team Members

Our family is Anishinaabe and are members of the Berens River First Nation in Manitoba. Our mom and Elder is from Berens River First Nation and our dad and Elder is from Little Grand Rapids in Manitoba. Our mom and dad have always shared to Respect and Honor All People, Love, Care, Be Kind, and Be Humble.

We have always been taught to respect and honor our children, youth, adults and Elders and communities for who they are and where they come from. All People have the right to culturally safe, culturally appropriate, and culturally sensitive health care services and supports no matter who they are or where they come from. By working as one and building Trusting Relationships that values and honor each other, we will be able to make positive change.

Elder Diana is an Adjunct Professor in the UBCO Faculty of Health and Social Development and School of Nursing teaching cultural safety. She is the Elder Advisor for several urban Indigenous-led Traditional and Western approaches to health and wellness research projects.

Elders Chris and Eric are members of the Okanagan Nation from the Okanagan Indian Band. Elder Chris is a Sixties Scoop survivor and Elder Eric is a survivor of the Residential School system. Elders Chris and Eric received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from UBC in 2020.

As Elders in Residence at the UBC Okanagan Indigenous Center, Elders Chris and Eric make important contributions to enriching the educational experience for Indigenous students. Elders Chris and Eric are co-founders and teachers of a transformative and impactful Cultural Safety course, and are or have been Adjunct Professors in the School of Nursing and Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBCO Okanagan. In these roles, they have deeply influenced Cultural Safety Education at UBC Okanagan by providing respectful relationships and safe environments for Indigenous students, staff, and faculty to share their stories and experiences, exposing the truth about the past and ongoing harm of colonialism. They continue to provide Cultural Safety to other entities such as School Districts, Churches, and for the Okanagan Indian Band. Elders Chris and Eric continue as Cultural Support for the Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society.

Elders Wilfred (Grouse) and Pamela Barnes are Westbank First Nation Indigenous Knowledge Keepers dedicated to preserving Syilx language, knowledge, and culture.

Elder Grouse is fluent Nsyilxcen language speaker and teacher. He is a Spiritual Care Provider at Kelowna General Hospital, an Okanagan Nation Alliance Critical Response Team member, and works with the School District #23 Indigenous Education Council and the Okanagan Nation traditional lands management. He is an Elder in Residence at Okanagan College.

Elder Pamela, a founder of Westbank First Nation’s Sensisyusten School, is a member of Westbank First Nation Community Consultive Group working with local RCMP, and several committees for School District 23 and Okanagan College. In true Syilx tradition, she strives to educate and mentor the next generations in all the work she does.

Elders Grouse and Pamela are Adjunct Professors in the UBCO Faculty of Health and Social Development School of Nursing and teach on Indigenous historical and contemporary colonization, impacts on health, land, and cultural safety. They were awarded the Honorary Fellow title at Okanagan College in 2020. In 2023, Elders Pamela and Grouse received the Community Rose Award from the graduating class of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

I am Vuntut Gwitch’in from the Yukon on my maternal side. My late mother grew up at the residential school in Dawson City, Yukon. I have lived as a guest in the Sylix Okanagan territory for over forty years. I have one son and two grandchildren.

Due to the impacts of colonization I didn’t start learning Indigenous ways until I was in my thirties. My western studies include: children and youth, trauma, communications, counselling and addictions. I have served for twenty-five years working in First Nation’s and Inuit communities throughout Canada within Friendship Centres, School District 22, Splats’in Child Welfare, Interior Health, treatment centres and Employment for People with Lived Experience in homelessness and addictions.

I am honoured to be residing on the unceded and ancestral territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation. I’m also deeply grateful to be taught by knowledge keepers and elders from this Nation. I teach cultural safety within the UBCO faculty of Health and Social Development School of Nursing.

  • Rosanna McGregor, Mary Cutts, Cariboo Friendship Society
  • Cal Albright, Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society
  • Edna Terbasket, Ethan Dallaire, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
  • Carol Camille, Mariko Kage, Lillooet Friendship Centre Society
  • Nikki McCrimmon, Elder Arlene Vrtar-Huot, Haley Cundy, Métis Community Services Society of BC
  • Ida Scott, North Okanagan Friendship Center Society
  • Charlotte Jones, Medicine, UBC Okanagan
  • Gabrielle Legault, Indigenous Studies, UBC Okanagan
  • Pete Hutchinson, Indigenous Studies, UBC Okanagan
  • Mary Jung, Health and Exercise Science, UBC Okanagan
  • Jonathan Little, Health and Exercise Science, UBC Okanagan
  • Alexandra King, Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
  • Malcolm King, Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
  • Jon McGavock, Pediatrics Medicine, University of Manitoba
  • Viviane Josewski, Nursing, University of Northern British Columbia
  • Sarah de Leeuw, Geography and Community Health Science & Northern Medical Program, University of Northern British Columbia
  • Skye Barbic, Occupational Therapy, UBC Vancouver
  • Shawn Wilson, Indigenous Studies, UBC Okanagan
  • Holly Buhler, Research Manager, Interior Health
  • Karlyn Olsen, Research Manager, UBC Okanagan
  • Kelsey Darnay, PhD Student, IGS Community Engagement, Social Change, Equity
  • Keyara Brody, MSc Student, Rehabilitation Science
  • Avery Shtykalo, BA Student, Indigenous Studies
  • Casey Hewes, PhD Nursing
  • Violet Ignace, Master of Science in Nursing
  • Helen Hamel, Master of Science in Nursing
  • Melissa Roe, Master of Science in Nursing
  • Brittany Swanson, Master of Science in Nursing
  • Amber Froste, Master of Science in Nursing


  • Julianne Barry, School of Nursing
  • Danielle Bergevin, Master of Social Work, UBCO
  • Kristen Kowalko, Master of Social Work, UBCO
  • Lauren Pitre, B.Sc. Biochemistry, UBCO
  • Tristan Jeffery, Medicine, UBCO
  • Julia Vander-Heiden, Medicine, UBCO
  • John Siewert, Medicine, UBCO
  • Arshdeep Judgey, Medicine, UBCV
  • Matthew Wanbon, B.A. Creative Writing, UBCO
  • Diane Gresku, Medicine, UBCO
  • Ethan Dallaire, Psychology, UBCO
  • Ever Mee, Nursing, UBCO
  • Viviane Josewski, Nursing, UNBC
  • Michael Jonasson, Public Health, Simon Fraser University
  • Jade Palmer, BA Student, Psychology
  • Danielle Wilson, Leslie Bryant MacLean, Brad Anderson, Interior Health
  • Heather Gifford, Whanganui, New Zealand
  • Margo Greenwood, University of Northern British Columbia
  • Braden Te Hiwi, New Zealand


  • Traditional Knowledge and Indigenous Wellness in Graduate Nursing Education in BC. The Time for Transformation and Reconciliation (Funded by UBC Indigenous Strategic Initiatives, 2022-2024).
  • Reclaiming and Recovering Indigenous Knowledge in Graduate Nursing Education. Intergenerational Learning with Communities (CIHR, 2022-2026).
  • Learning from Our Elders: Indigenous Perspectives of Gender in Harvesting and Gathering (CIHR, 2020-2023).
  • Urban Indigenous Identity, Gender and Wellness: Sharing Wisdom Across Generations (CIHR, 2021-2024).
  • Coming Together, Sharing Traditions and Taking Action for Urban Indigenous Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Management: Community Resilience and Wellness (CIHR, 2021-2023).
  • Building Indigenous Pathways for Diabetes and Obesity Prevention and Management with Urban and Rural Communities in BC (CIHR, 2018-2023).
  • Urban Indigenous Wellbeing (UBC VPRI, 2021-2024).
  • Indigenous Methodologies for Telediabetes/Obesity Care in Urban Indigenous Communities (AGEWELL, 2019-2023).




Kurtz, D.L.M., Janke, R., Barry, J., Cloherty, A., Shahram, S., & Jones, C. (2022, July). Learning from “Our Relations” Indigenous Peoples in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and United States: A review of culturally relevant diabetes and obesity interventions. International Indigenous Policy Journal, 13(1).


Dow-Fleisner, S., Seaton, C., Li, E., Plamondon, K., Oelke, N., Kurtz, D., Jones, C., Currie, L., Pesut, B., Hasan, K., & Rush, K. (2022). Internet access is a necessity: A latent class analysis of COVID-19 related challenges and the role of technology use among rural community residents. BMC Public Health, 22(1), 845. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-022-13254-1

Gresku, D., Jones. C., & Kurtz, D.L.M. (2022 June). Collaborative evaluation frameworks for Indigenous-led community health Interventions: A scoping review. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation, 37(1). DOI:

Jeffery, T., Kurtz, DLM., Jones, C. (2021, Oct). Two-Eyed Seeing: Current approaches and discussion of medical applications. BCMJ, 63(8), 321-325.

Brockie, T., Clark, T.C., Best, O., Power, T., Bourque Bearskin, L., Kurtz, D.L., Lowe, J., & Wilson, D. (2021). Indigenous social exclusion to inclusion: Case studies on Indigenous nursing leadership in four high income countries. Journal of Clinical Nursing Studies.

Book Chapters:

Kurtz, D.L.M., & Nyberg, J. (2022). Learning from the Elders: Traditional Knowledge and cultural safety within health science education. M. Greenwood, S. de Leeuw, R. Stout, R. Larstone, & J. Sutherland (Eds). Introduction to determinants of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples’ health in Canada (pp. 212-224) Toronto: Canadian Scholars.


A path to cultural safety. Building cultural safety into the health-care system. UBC Okanagan Stories, July, 2021.

Indigenous Initiatives

Elder Biographies (Coming Soon)