IPHRC sat down with Associate Director and doctoral student Cassandra Opikokew to ask her more about her research and her CIHR Doctoral Research Award - Reseach in First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit Health, worth $108,000.00 over 3 years.
Cassandra Opikokew.jpg
What is your connection to IPHRC? 
I have been with IPHRC for almost three years. I was originally just hired to do a communications plan over a summer, but it turned into a Research Associate position specializing in Knowledge Translation (KT) and communications. I've been Associate Director for about a year or so now and I oversee our strategic initiatives, project management, and our KT area.
Tell us about your research project:
Using an Indigenous research methodology, I will examine the policy-making process in Canada in the areas of First Nations health and education, and will conduct a comparative analysis of other countries that share a similar colonial history. The title of my dissertation, 'The Indian Solution to the Policy Problem,' is cheeky because it turns the idea of the 'Indian Problem' on its head by suggesting that it's actually poor policies and the policy-making process that create the problems. Based on my research, I want to develop an Indigenous policy-making model that acknowledges Indigenous ways of knowing.
I am very humbled by my CIHR award and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to use this funding to support my research and serve our Indigenous communities. I believe in research as service and this award will allow me to dedicate the time to gather stories from our communities that they deserve.
What is your primary area of research?
Public Policy (focus on policymaking, Indigenous health and education, and Indigenous research methodology)
How has your relationship with IPHRC supported you in your research?
My research and work are directly linked since both contribute to improved Indigenous health research in Saskatchewan. My work also allows me to have an 'inside look' at how the resarch world works from funding, to grant preparation, to working with community partners. I love my job! And IPHRC's student funding has been instrumental in allowing me to travel and share my work while learning from others in my field. 
What are your future plans and goals in your research and academic career?
I get asked that question a lot and truthfully, I really don't know the answer. My volunteer work, employment, and education are all geared towards serving and working with Indigenous people so I hope my path will continue in that direction. I haven't had a plan to be a 'hardcore' academic because my path to my PhD has been a bit unconventional - I started off as a journalist, became a law student, and then kind of fell into my Master's. I just keep asking questions, pulling on loose threads, and following my passion for these topics so I want to stay open to future opportunities. 
Congratulations, Cassandra!
For more information on IPHRC's award-winning students and researchers, click below:
Serene Smyth, IPHRC doctoral student at the College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan
Nuno Ribeiro, IPHRC Postdoctoral fellow
Deanna Bickford, IPHRC doctoral student at the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan

For more information about this story, please contact:

Cassie Ozog
Research Officer
Indigenous Peoples' Health Research Centre (IPHRC)
CK 115 University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway
Regina, SK S4S 0A2
Ph: (306) 337-2437
Fax: (306) 585-5694
Email: Cassandra.Ozog@uregina.ca