Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education

Three wooden bowls containing sacred Indigenous plant medicines: Cedar, Sage, Sweetgrass, Tobacco. Photo by Alice Beaudoin.


Welcome to the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education (CIHRE).

We have described for you a mountain.

We have shown you the way to the top.

We call upon you to do the climbing.

-Senator Murray Sinclair, TRC Commissioner

We acknowledge that the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine sits on the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation.

We pay respect to the Algonquin people, who are the traditional guardians of this land. We acknowledge their longstanding relationship with this territory, which remains unceded. We pay respect to all Indigenous people in this region, from all nations across Canada, who call Ottawa home. We acknowledge the traditional knowledge keepers, both young and old. And we honour their courageous leaders: past, present, and future.

Indigenous affirmation | University of Ottawa

About Us

Established in 2022, the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education (CIHRE) is focused on improving Indigenous health education, research and capacity development to better serve and ensure quality care for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities within the Faculty of Medicine’s specific service area.

The Centre, led by Founding Director, Dr. Sarah Minwanimad Funnell, will ensure that the Faculty of Medicine promotes, supports and delivers on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on Health, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada’s Joint Commitment to Action on Indigenous Health, the Calls to Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people, Joyce’s Principle, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), its own Strategic Plan and the uOttawa Indigenous Action Plan.

Given the existing strengths and the rich diversity and resilience in the local Indigenous community, the Centre will seek opportunities to collaborate alongside Indigenous organizations on priority areas of health and wellbeing. It will be a standard-setting organization in data-governance, that models the operationalization of Indigenous research ethics. It will work to honour Indigenous Peoples’ right to have the highest attainable health, by embracing the principle of self-determination as articulated in UNDRIP.

Building on the success of the Undergraduate Medical Education Indigenous Program, the Faculty of Medicine, through the CIHRE, commits to comprehensively address Indigenous education goals across all of the Faculty’s educational programs. Therefore, given the Faculty’s commitment to Indigenous health and the strong relationships and proximity to resources in the National Capital Region, the CIHRE presents a unique opportunity to:

  • Build on our existing strengths to develop a formal structure for harmonized strategic direction in Indigenous health research and education within all administrative units of the Faculty
  • Support faculty-wide Indigenous community engagement
  • Enhance our ability to address the Faculty’s Social Accountability and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion objectives, and,
  • Position our Faculty as a leader, a recognized ally and action-oriented partner both within the community and as an institution of higher learning.

The CIHRE is committed to being outwardly facing and responsive to the Indigenous communities that the Faculty of Medicine serves. For this key guiding principle, consideration has been given to ensure that voices of First Nations, Inuit and Métis community leaders have been heard at all stages of the Centre’s development. Continuous engagement and incorporation of the insights of additional stakeholders will be important to the Centre’s work.

During its initial mandate, the Centre will focus on five main priority areas:

  • Governance and Engagement
  • Research
  • Education
  • Indigenous Recruitment, Retention and Capacity Development
  • Clinical Practice

For more information about the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education, please contact us at: cihre-cresa@uOttawa.ca.

Our Team

Dr. Sarah Funnell

Dr. Sarah Funnell, Director of the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education

Dr. Sarah Minwanimad Funnell is a First Nations Family Physician and Public Health Specialist. Dr. Funnell is the Founding Director of the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education, Faculty of Medicine, uOttawa and an Assistant Professor in uOttawa’s Department of Family Medicine with a cross appointment to the School of Epidemiology and Public Health. She is also the Director of Indigenous Health within the Department of Family Medicine at Queen’s University. Up until April of 2022, Dr. Funnell was an Associate Medical Officer of Health at Ottawa Public Health of which the last 2 years she directed her attention towards supporting the COVID-19 response. Dr. Funnell maintains her passion for Family Medicine by providing primary care services to underserved communities in and around the Ottawa area.

After completing medical school at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Funnell pursued her dual interests in family medicine and epidemiology through the five-year Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program. She received her Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP) in 2015. She became a fellow of the Royal College (FRCPC) in 2018, while also completing a Masters of Science in Epidemiology that same year.

Her background is Algonquin and Tuscarora and grew up among the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation. Sarah is on the Board of Directors of both the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada and the Board of Directors of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Sarah is past co-Chair of the Indigenous Health Committee at the CFPC and also sits on the Indigenous Health Advisory Committee at the Royal College. She is on the Council for the Medical Council of Canada. She is an executive and founding member of the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education (NCIME) where she co-chairs the Admissions and Transitions working group. She is currently working with both colleges to improve Indigenous Health Curriculum in all residency programs. She lives in Ottawa with her husband and 3 daughters. In her spare time, she speaks to her plants

Lisa Abel

Lisa Abel, Program Manager of the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education

Lisa Shawongonabe Abel is a citizen of M'Chigeeng First Nation. She has earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Ottawa, followed up by a postgraduate certificate in Documentary Production from Algonquin College.

She has devoted her career to working with urban and on-reserve Indigenous communities, in the areas of education, health research and communications.

Contact Us

The Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education (CIHRE)

Roger Guidon Hall
451 Smyth Road (room 2034)
Ottawa, Ontario

Send us an email if you have questions, comments or would like to learn more about the Centre for Indigenous Health Research and Education and our activities at cihre-cresa@uOttawa.ca.

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