The Café Scientifique series is an informal series of talks given in a relaxed setting such as a café. These talks are designed to engage the public in learning about recent research in science. Given by experts in the field, these talks provide an opportunity to stimulate discussion around some of the most exciting topics in modern science.
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Title of this week's talk: Silent Genomes: Building the infrastructure for equitable genetic/genomics care for Indigenous children
Dr. Laura Arbour, Laurie Montour and the Silent Genomes team will describe the Canada wide project that is working to address and break down barriers to equitable care for Indigenous children with rare genetic disease.
Dr. Laura Arbour is a professor in the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia (UBC), and is situated at the Island Medical Program in Victoria, BC. She is also an affiliate professor in the Division of Medical Sciences at the University of Victoria, and a medical geneticist at Island Health. Dr. Arbour’s clinical practice and research focuses on northern and Indigenous health issues as they pertain to genetics. She leads the UBC Community Genetics Research Program, situated at the University of Victoria is also the project lead on “Silent Genomes: Reducing health-care disparities and improving diagnostic success for Indigenous children with genetic disease”, which aims to address the challenges of equitable access to genetic/genomic diagnosis and care for Canadian Indigenous populations.
Laurie Montour is an Indigenous biologist working for Indigenous communities. ‘My work has to be pragmatic; it has to withstand tough questions about the purpose of research, its benefits and costs. It has to take into account community life and cultural practices, family relations and politics. I was born and raised in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake. Any time I enter a Native community, in some way, it’s like coming home again. I enter humbly, with wonder at how each place has created its own sense of community, and amazed at the resilience and strength it takes to heal and move forward. The Silent Genomes Project is truly looking seven generations ahead to protect our unborn, while building tools and human capacity to take care of the gift transferred to us by our ancestors. The challenge is to stay grounded, and to make sure this project is done properly so at the end of the day, our people have equitable access to the best health care.”