It's International Women's Day and we're highlighting just a few of the thousands of incredible women who help us deliver exceptional care at Vancouver Coastal Health. Read about them in VCH News Stories and see more photos on our VCH Instagram and Facebook.
As an Indigenous woman of mixed ancestry and proud member of the shíshálh nation on the Sunshine Coast, Dr. Brittany Bingham says she “loves participating in research projects that work with communities to amplify their voices for systems change and improvement."
Informing system change is what drives Dr. Brittany Bingham in her research activities. She is the new director of Indigenous research with the Aboriginal Health team, leading Indigenous research initiatives across VCH with her small but mighty team.She also conducts research with the UBC Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE) on the health and wellness of Indigenous women in Vancouver. Her work includes developing grants to conduct community-based research with Indigenous communities, but also working with partners to inform Indigenous research strategy and incorporating decolonizing methods into research.
“In many ways, we are challenging systems and structures just through the ways we do the research," she says. “We are working from a decolonial lens to conduct research that informs system change in a rigorous way but also privileging Indigenous knowledge, traditions and voices. What might surprise someone is how exciting and innovative this work is."
Having worked in Indigenous community-based health research since 2004, Brittany started off in psychology at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and eventually moved into a master's in public health and a doctorate from the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU as their first Indigenous PhD grad. All of her experience has led her to action-oriented and community-driven research and she has found that the VCH region is a great place to do this work.
The best part of the work for Brittany is working with the Elders on her team as key leaders of the research and being able to learn from their wisdom and knowledge to guide the projects.
“Having Elders to guide us in the research is absolutely essential to decolonizing data, research and our approaches, but most of all to make sure the research truly serves the needs of the communities we serve."
Mentorship from Elders as well as Indigenous leaders made a big impact on Brittany's approach to this work. She has been working with Leslie Bonshor, Executive Director of Aboriginal Health at VCH since 2011.
“She always ignites my passion and guides me to do the work in a good way with strong personal responsibility and humility."
Now Brittany is in a position to mentor other women who may want to work in this field.
“Working in Indigenous research is not an easy or straightforward journey, but research can be seen as ceremonial in that we have the honour to bring community stories forward to inform action and change for all our relations. We need so many more Indigenous women leaders in research in the years to come. The work will never be boring, but it is so worthwhile and rewarding, and there are other strong Indigenous women leaders to support and mentor along the way."
I find great joy in walking by the ocean in the early morning with an oat milk latte in hand. Finding time to be near the ocean or in the forest with my two young kids has brought me great joy during the pandemic.
I am grateful for the health and safety of my family members right now, and also grateful that the vaccine is coming and giving hope to those most vulnerable!
Walks in nature have been essential to rest and recharge!
I would love to have a dinner with some of our inspirational B.C. Indigenous women leaders like Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Cindy Blackstock and Jody Wilson-Raybould!
I have really enjoyed watching Modern Family from the beginning during the pandemic, and I recently read From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle. It was amazing.
This year's theme and pose for International Women's Day is Choose to Challenge. Posing with a hand held high shows commitment to choose to challenge inequality, call out bias, question stereotypes and help forge an inclusive world.