Indigenous Brain Health

Brain Canada is committed to the principles of reconciliation and the calls for action embedded in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We take seriously the call to mobilize the brain research community in Canada in taking concrete steps toward reconciliation. Specifically, we are working on The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action #18-24, which pertain to improving health for Indigenous Peoples, and #57, which focuses on advancing the brain research community’s learning on Indigenous issues. With these ongoing commitments, we are building respectful relationships with Indigenous researchers and organizations to advance brain health in Canada.

By expanding on ongoing efforts with the Martin Family Initiative (MFI) in early childhood development, Brain Canada is supporting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations and communities to enhance Indigenous health research and knowledge mobilization. Brain Canada’s strategy focuses on building relationships, establishing trust, and engaging meaningfully, with an emphasis on strengths-based approaches, fostering resilience and support for self-determination. Brain Canada will undertake ongoing stakeholder engagement to identify the types of initiatives needed to promote brain health among Indigenous peoples and ascertain how to address administrative barriers to research funding.

Love builds brains

WATCH: A conversation on Indigenous Peoples and dementia

Dementia is a growing public health issue for Indigenous people. Research has shown that health disparities faced by Indigenous Peoples are rooted in colonization and ongoing social inequities. These factors may also increase the risk of developing dementia for Indigenous people. On April 16, 2024, a panel met to discuss this important topic.

Territorial acknowledgement

The offices of Brain Canada Foundation are located on the traditional, ancestral territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka Peoples, a place which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst nations. We honour and pay respect to elders past, present and emerging, and dedicate ourselves to moving forward in the spirit of partnership, collaboration, and reconciliation. In our work, we focus our efforts on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, particularly those that pertain to improving health for Indigenous Peoples and that focus on advancing our own learning on Indigenous issues.

Meet the researchers


Dr. Bryan Kolb

Early Years Initiative

University of Lethbridge

Grant Bruno, a researcher studying Autism, standing in front of his institution, the University of Alberta.

Grant Bruno

Shireen and Edna Marcus Excellence Award

University of Alberta

Kimberly Fairman

Dr. Kimberly Fairman

Personnel Awards for Indigenous Scholars

University of Victoria

Erin Gurr

Dr. Erin Gurr

Personnel Awards for Indigenous Scholars

Western University

Ethan Hagen

Dr. Ethan Hagen

Personnel Awards for Indigenous Scholars

University of Alberta

Justin Turner

Dr. Justin Turner

Personnel Awards for Indigenous Scholars

University of British Columbia


The Personnel Awards for Indigenous Scholars

Indigenous Peoples are disproportionately affected by heart disease, stroke, and other brain conditions. However, they are underrepresented when it comes to addressing these conditions through research. In partnership with Heart & Stroke and CIHR, this program increases the number of highly qualified trainees working in heart and/or brain research from Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) communities whose traditional and ancestral territories are in Canada.

The Brain Canada SGBA+ and EDI Action Plan identifies key activities to enhance the quality and relevance of brain research in Canada by addressing sex and gender brain science and integrating sex and gender-based analysis plus (SGBA+) and equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) efforts into all of Brain Canada’s work.