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:

 Elders, Research Advisors, Adjunct Professors UBC Okanagan:

  • Chris Marchand and Dr. Eric Mitchell, Okanagan Indian Band
  • Diana Moar, Berens River First Nation
  • Pamela and Grouse Barnes, Westbank First Nation, Honorary Fellows Okanagan College

 Community Members Research Co-Leads:

  • Rosanna McGregor, Tamara Garreau, Mary Cutts, Cariboo Friendship Society
  • Cal Albright, Sheila Norris-Bebek, Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society
  • Edna Terbasket, Ethan Dallaire, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
  • Carol Camille, Mariko Kage, Lillooet Friendship Centre Society
  • Jackie-Ellen Watson, Elder Arlene Vrtar-Huot, Haley Cundy, Métis Community Services Society of BC
  • Ida Scott, North Okanagan Friendship Center Society

 University & Interior Health Team Members:

  • Charlotte Jones, Medicine, UBC Okanagan
  • Gabrielle Legault, Indigenous Studies, UBC Okanagan
  • Pete Hutchinson, Population and Public Health, UBC Vancouver
  • Mary Jung, Health and Exercise Science, UBC Okanagan
  • Jonathan Little, Health and Exercise Science, UBC Okanagan
  • Alexandra King, Medicine, University of Saskatchewan
  • Dr 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
  • Veronica Roesler, Project Coordinator, UBC Okanagan

Current UBCO Research Trainees & Students:

  • Julianne Barry, Post-Doctoral Fellow, School of Nursing
  • Kelsey Darnay, PhD Student, IGS Community Engagement, Social Change, Equity
  • Denica Bleau, PhD Student, IGS
  • Keyara Brody, MSc Student, Rehabilitation Science
  • Avery Shtykalo, BA Student, Indigenous Studies
  • Jade Palmer, BA Student, Psychology

 Current UBCO Graduate Students, UBC Okanagan:

  • Casey Hewes, Ph.D. 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

 Trainee & Student Team Alumni:

  • 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

Past Team Members & Collaborators

  • Danielle Wilson, Leslie Bryant MacLean, Brad Anderson, Interior Health
  • Heather Gifford, Whanganui, New Zealand


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)