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Dr. Christopher Mushquash, C.Psych., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, & NOSM

  1. 2012-2013 Annual Report to the Community

    November 4, 2013 by Christopher Mushquash

    It Takes a Village

    “When you have a relationship with communities, you can enter into an open dialogue to address their goals in a real way.”

    –        Psychology Assistant Professor and nationally recognized researcher Christopher Mushquash

    Curiosity is a powerful human emotion. It fuels the work of researchers in every discipline and generates important discoveries, but sometimes curiosity can have unforeseen and damaging consequences.

    In earlier colonial times, the notion of the researcher as a bold explorer travelling to exotic places to study exotic people captivated the western imagination, whether it was Franz Boas in Canada’s Pacific Northwest in the 1880s or Margaret Mead in Papua New Guinea in the 1920s.  Unilaterally deciding who and what to study, along with the assumption that non-Europeans were somehow less advanced than Europeans, became a standard research model.  And First Nations communities throughout Canada are still feeling the reverberations.

    This approach led to serious privacy and ethics breaches. Even in the late twentieth century, health researchers conducting studies in Aboriginal communities would do analyses without a community’s knowledge or consent. “While often well-intentioned, this approach was, and continues to be, problematic” says researcher Christopher Mushquash. “Because this top-down approach is what has historically been pursued, subsequent conversations have been missed due to prior negative experiences with researchers and the research process.”

    An assistant professor with Lakehead University’s Department of Psychology and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Mushquash takes a community-based approach to research. He is part of a changing Aboriginal health research landscape in which collaborations with communities respectfully search for ways to improve health together. This approach is leading to a revived appetite for research among some First Nation communities.

    Mushquash is especially interested in substance use and mental health in First Nations communities and the interrelationship between the two. “We must consider how the historic context has caused profound changes that affect health.” His Substance Use Research Group (SURG) is one way Mushquash engages in these complex issues.

    Mushquash’s understanding of northern, rural, and remote health issues is not just academic. He was born and raised in Sioux Lookout and is a member of the Pays Plat First Nation on the north shore of Lake Superior. “I think that growing up rurally was one of the things that contributed to my commitment to working rurally and particularly working with First Nations people. I was very aware of the health disparities.”

    Despite his childhood experiences, Mushquash hadn’t initially planned on a career in psychology. “I came to Lakehead University to study biochemistry – I’d be a plant biologist if I wasn’t in psychology,” he says. But when he took a psychology elective in his second year, he became aware of how psychology is science – and realized that pursuing psychology was a good opportunity to learn research skills that might benefit First Nations, and rural and remote communities.

    Today, Mushquash is nationally recognized as a dedicated researcher, consultant, and teacher whose work is informed and driven by community priorities. “Research is about relationship. When you have a relationship with communities, you can enter into an open dialogue to address their goals in a real way.”

    One example of this collaborative approach is Professor Mushquash’s recent partnership with Health Canada and 10 remote First Nation communities to create an evaluation framework for community-based programs dealing with opiate use. “This work is very rewarding,” he says. “I’ve met so many strong and spirited people and am continually inspired by the amazing work they are doing in their communities.”

    Read more Lakehead stories in the 2012-13 Annual Report: report.lakeheadu.ca

    By: Tracey Skehan, Editor of Publications, Marketing Support


  2. Dr. Mushquash awarded CPA President’s New Researcher Award

    June 13, 2013 by Christopher Mushquash

    On June 13, 2013, at the 74th Annual Convention of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) in Quebec City, Dr. Mushquash was awarded the CPA President’s New Researcher Award. This award recognizes the exceptional quality of the contribution of new researchers to psychological knowledge in Canada. Selection of award recipients is based on the examination of the applicant’s record of early career achievement.


  3. Dr. Mushquash appointed adjunct in Department of Health Sciences

    February 17, 2012 by Christopher Mushquash

    Dr. Mushquash was appointed as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Lakehead University on February 17, 2012.


  4. Dr. Mushquash cross-appointed to NOSM

    February 10, 2012 by Christopher Mushquash

    Dr. Mushquash has been cross-appointed in the Division of Human Sciences at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) for a period of five years commencing on February 10, 2012.


  5. SURG is seeking volunteer research assistants

    January 11, 2012 by Christopher Mushquash

    The Substance Use Research Group (SURG) is seeking volunteer research assistants.

    You will have the opportunity to:

    • Run studies, analyze data, interpret results, and contribute to scholarly presentations/publications
    • Earn reference letters for post-graduate training in psychology or other health-related fields

    You would be expected to:

    • Volunteer 6 hours/week for a minimum of 8 months (two semesters)

    If interested, please email the Laboratory Coordinator: SURG@lakeheadu.ca


  6. Dr. Mushquash appointed to the O-AGC Advisors Committee

    December 19, 2011 by Christopher Mushquash

    On December 19, 2011, Dr. Mushquash was appointed to the Advisors Committee for the Ogimaawin-Aboriginal Governance Council (O-AGC). The Advisors Committee members include representatives from each Aboriginal-specific program, department or position at Lakehead University, individual Aboriginal faculty members, representatives from each faculty, and key administrative positions. The Advisors Committee serves as a vehicle for interdepartmental communication and liaison with the Lakehead University O-AGC on matters affecting Aboriginal post-secondary education.


  7. Dr. Mushquash appointed as O-AGC representative to the Senate REB

    November 22, 2011 by Christopher Mushquash

    Dr. Mushquash has been appointed as the Ogimaawin-Aboriginal Governance Council (O-AGC) representative to the Senate Research Ethics Board effective immediately through June 30, 2012. O-AGC membership consists of organizations from the surrounding Aboriginal community that sit in an advisory capacity to the President’s Office.


  8. Dr. Mushquash named as Co-Investigator with NAMHR

    October 17, 2011 by Christopher Mushquash

    On October 17, 2011, Dr. Mushquash became a Co-Investigator with the Network for Aboriginal Mental Health Research (NAMHR). Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research since December 1, 2001, NAMHR is committed to building capacity for mental health and addictions research and knowledge translation in remote, rural and urban settings by working in close partnership with Aboriginal organizations and communities. For more information about NAMHR, please visit: http://www.namhr.ca/index.php


  9. Dr. Mushquash appointed to CIHR IAPH Advisory Board

    September 2, 2011 by Christopher Mushquash

    Dr. Mushquash was appointed to the  Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH) Advisory Board. The Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH) was established in June 2000, along with the twelve other Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). IAPH fosters the advancement of a national health research agenda to improve and promote the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada, through research, knowledge translation and capacity building. The Institute’s pursuit of research excellence is enhanced by respect for community research priorities and Indigenous knowledge, values and cultures. His renewable, three-year term began on September 1, 2011.