Why is Mr. Trudeau insisting on bringing wokeism to our Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)?

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funds medical research in Canada.

This national funding agency is composed of 13 virtual institutes.

Each of these institutes is led by a Scientific Director who benefits from the advice of “Institute Advisory Boards” (IABs).

These Institutes are the following: Aging, Cancer Research, Circulatory and Respiratory Health, Gender and Health, Genetics, Health Services and Policy Research, Human Development, Child and Youth Health, Indigenous People’s Health, Infection and Immunity, Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addiction, Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, Population and Public Health. These Institutes work both independently and in collaboration with each other and/or with international institutes or agencies, etc.

As you can see above, one of these excellent institutes is called the Indigenous People’s Health. Its Scientific Director is currently Dr. Carrie Bourrassa who acknowledges “the leadership of previous IPH Scientific Directors Dr. Malcolm King and Dr. Jeff Reading who helped shape the Institute” (https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/8668.html). Bambi had the honour to meet/interact or collaborate with Dr. King (what a scientist!).  

Over the past years, there has been a debate around sex or gender differences among Canadian researchers and their access to funding. Some wondered if female scientists were less likely to be funded than male scientists because of systemic barriers. The answer turned out to be no. However, there were differences related to men and women’s styles. Perhaps choices of words in writing letters within applications. Perhaps more importantly, there was also a difference related to the more aggressive competing style of men. The latter tended to apply to funding competitions in the next competition immediately following a failure (where women preferred to wait and perhaps improve their chances with this strategy, etc.). OK, this problem was solved fast. There was no systemic discrimination against women. Plus, there is a whole institute devoted to gender and health.

Now, Mr. Trudeau’s government, seems to want to religiously apply the DIE religion (to use the sarcastic term of Dr. Gad Saad from Montreal, Québec) to every aspect of the public service sphere and even in the private sector. DIE stands for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.

Indeed, look at what our government wants to demonstrate now… It is launching an initiative called “CIHR online discussion on systemic racism in Canada’s health research funding system” (https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/52258.html). Can you imagine? The underlying idea here seems to show that our funding system is filled with systemic racism.

If the same excellence criteria are applied to all applicants to a certain grant application and peer reviews are conducted in a thorough way, looking for EXCELLENCE, period (scientific merit and clinical impact/significance), why should we worry about a so-called systemic racism in our health funding agency? Please keep also in mind that any competition with the CIHR (or with other governmental funding agencies) starts with a check of conflicts of interests (http://www.science.gc.ca/eic/site/063.nsf/eng/h_90108244.html?OpenDocument).

Plus, look at our outstanding IPH Institute mentioned above, isn’t it amazing that we have a full Institute, which mission is to “play a lead role in developing research capacity in the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, and will support partnerships and alliances between Indigenous communities and health research groups at the local, regional, national and international levels. IIPH supports health research that respects indigenous values, beliefs and cultures, while generating new knowledge to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Peoples”. IIPH also fosters capacity building in graduate students pursuing careers in Indigenous health research and promotes partnerships with Indigenous Peoples.

Among its impressive achievements, there is the Indigenous Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative. Indeed, under the leadership of IIPH, and in collaboration with four other institutes, the CIHR developed an initiative called Healthy Life Trajectories Initiative (HeLTI). There is another much appreciated support of IIPH of the CIHR’s Transition in Care Initiative (TiC), co-led by four institutes (including IIPH) in collaboration with four others. Last but not least, there is the contribution of IIPH to the Network Environments for Indigenous Health Research.

As you can see, the IPH Institute has played a leading role within the CIHR and even worldwide in great research initiatives! It is one of our Canadian prides, despite our sad history of abuses and de-culturation ☹… and residual contemporary racism.  

To conclude this post with an old story (already shared on this blog) to show what Bambi thinks of all this wokeism religiosity: Whenever she applies to funding or completes governmental applications, she refuses to answer those extra questions on her ethnolinguistic background, etc. For her, this is no one’s business. She is Canadian, period. For instance, recently, Bambi accepted an invitation to participate in a research project (as a participant). One of the demographic questions was about ethnic background. The list of answer options was literally endless, with funny categories and even sub-categories. Bambi skipped the list to its very end. Luckily, there was a category called “Other”. She chose it and managed to insert on the form the words: “A proud Canadian :)”.

OK, seriously now, merit and only merit should be our criterion. Yes, we need an equal and fair access to opportunities for all (no discrimination there, support to those in need, etc.). However, we cannot and should not guarantee the outcomes of competitions in life. Once we do that, we set ourselves for scientific mediocrity. Is this what Mr. Trudeau really wants? Likely not. So, why doesn’t he stop and reflect before getting too excited by fancy ideologies, like DIE, wokeism, etc.? 

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