The University of Regina welcomes two new Canada Research Chairs

By Krista Baliko Posted: November 20, 2018 5:00 a.m.

Dr. Michelle Coupal (L), Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Truth and Reconciliation Education (photo: Dr. Hoi Cheu) and Dr. Jennifer Gordon, CRC (R) in Biopsychosocial Determinants of Women’s Mental Health
Dr. Michelle Coupal (L), Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Truth and Reconciliation Education (photo: Dr. Hoi Cheu) and Dr. Jennifer Gordon, CRC (R) in Biopsychosocial Determinants of Women’s Mental Health U of R Photography

Research focused on truth and reconciliation education and women’s mental health has received a boost thanks to more than $1 million in recent federal funding to the University of Regina through the Canada Research Chairs Program. 

The research of Dr. Michelle Coupal, whose Canada Research Chair (CRC) is in Truth and Reconciliation Education, will help respond to the educative Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada by providing educators with both the theories and practical strategies for bringing Indigenous materials into the classroom. 

“As a literature professor, I view Indigenous literary arts as having the unique capacity to foster relationships and alliances between texts and readers,” says Coupal. “Part of the reckoning in the path toward reconciliation involves establishing these connections through the stories Indigenous writers tell. My research aims to nurture ethical witnessing in the classroom as students enter into what one hopes is an allied and activist relationship with texts/materials that often directly engage with colonial violence and its ongoing legacies. Education is the key to restoring nation-to-nation relationships in Canada.” 

The work of Dr. Jennifer Gordon, the new CRC in Biopsychosocial Determinants of Women’s Mental Health, will inform the prediction, prevention, and treatment of reproductive mood disorders, with her focus on depression in the menopause transition – which affects one in three women and costs the Canadian health-care system approximately $45 million annually. 

“Throughout the world, women are two times more likely to suffer from depression in their lifetime compared to men,” explains Gordon. “Depressive disorders triggered by reproductive events such as the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and the menopause transition—which are collectively known as reproductive mood disorders—likely account for an important proportion of this increased risk,” says Gordon.

She adds that the CRC program provides her with the time to fully immerse herself in the research, as well as the resources needed to set ambitious goals, knowing she has the support and equipment to see them through. 

Dr. David Malloy, University of Regina Vice-Present (Research), says that educators across the country are working hard to undertake the TRC’s Calls to Action, but many are forging ahead without the proper resources to do so in respectful and ethical ways, while many in our health-care system are wrestling with how to best assist the large portion of women in Canada who face mental health challenges due to reproductive events. 

“Thanks to the invaluable support from the federal government’s CRC Program, this research being conducted by two exceptional new Canada Research Chairs at the University of Regina focuses on redressing these significant shortfalls for the benefit of all Canadians,” says Malloy.

Coupal and Gordon join seven other Canada Research Chairs at the University of Regina.

The Canada Research Chairs Program is part of a national strategy to make Canada one of world’s top countries in research and development.