49 Langarans

49Langaran

Kelley Lee

Langara Alum | Global Health Researcher

Dr. Kelley Lee has studied the need to strengthen collective action on global health challenges related to tobacco control for over two decades, largely focusing her work outside of Canada. When the Langara College alum and internationally renowned global health researcher relocated back to Vancouver, she soon noticed that many of the tobacco control issues she’d observed abroad were happening right here at home.

“My research focuses on the tobacco industry and how it has grown its markets worldwide through a range of business and political strategies. We then noticed the high rates of commercial tobacco use in Indigenous communities, and the ineffectiveness of mainstream tobacco control approaches, and wondered if we could approach the issue from a different perspective,” Lee said. “We don’t have detailed data, but smoking rates in some First Nations communities can be triple the rate of use of non-Indigenous people in Canadian mainstream society.”

With this in mind, she worked with partners at the First Nations Health Authority to initiate the three-year Promoting Indigenous Led Action on Respecting Tobacco Project in 2017, aimed at improving health and wellness in B.C. First Nations communities.

Working in partnership with five B.C. communities, her team has been consulting with community members through engagement events, interviews, and focus groups, among other activities.

With consent, they are hoping to conduct a survey in each community to collect baseline data on tobacco use, and community opinions on commercial tobacco use and potential initiatives that would build on community strengths.

“We want to provide useful information to these communities based on local perspectives and what community members would like to do regarding tobacco use,” Lee said.

Tobacco use in Indigenous communities involves complex cultural and historical considerations, she added. Many communities use the plant for spiritual, medicinal and ceremonial purposes.

“If you come in and say ‘all tobacco is bad,’ that doesn’t resonate with cultural teachings. It is a very colonial approach,” she said. “We need to understand that in order to support health and wellness while respecting Indigenous cultures.”

Such an initiative, for example, might involve supporting traditional ways to use tobacco, such as burning during ceremonies, and offering tobacco leaves as gifts in pouches or tobacco ties. “We’ve learned that there can be healthy Indigenous relationships with tobacco, which do not involve inhaling smoke into your lungs,” she said. “When you’re inhaling commercial tobacco products, with added toxic chemicals and flavourings, that’s when cancers and other illnesses arise.

“Alternatively, traditional tobacco could be a part of the healing of Indigenous communities from the impacts of colonization through the recovery of traditional cultures.”

The project team, the majority of whom are Indigenous, plan to finish conducting their qualitative research by December, and then conduct the survey with the permission of the five communities in 2020.

They have until 2021 to finish the project, eventually leaving the communities with resources and a strategy document that will help them move forward.

“That’s the most important part, to leave the communities with something that is useful. Not just academics writing papers,” Lee said. “We want to conduct our research differently, and show that this will produce findings that are far more practical and useful.”

Courtesy of Black Press Media.

49 Facts —NO. 32

When the College first opened its doors in 1970 there were 11,410 students enrolled in programming. That figure has grown to over 22,000 students annually today.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Deborah Williams

    Deborah Williams

    Langara Alum | Playwright, Director, Actor

    Deborah is a graduate of Studio 58, Theatre Arts program and an award-winning writer, actress, director, and theatrical event organizer. She has worked on numerous productions over the last three decades, including Lowest Common Denominator, After Jerusalem, Clybourne Park, Importance of Being Earnest, MatchMaker, 5@50, Becky’s New Car, Hir, and many more. She also curates, hosts and produces The Flame, a sold out monthly storytelling series she co-founded 11 years ago. She facilitates storytelling intensives to empower participants of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to craft and share their own true stories. Deborah is probably best known for her award-winning play Mom’s the Word. The story surrounding the joys and challenges of motherhood resonated so strongly with audiences that it not only toured Canada four times but has also broken box office records around the world in 14 languages and 19 countries. Mom’s the Word received the 1995 Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding Original Play or Musical. The show also birthed two sequels that have toured across Canada: Mom’s the Word 2: Unhinged, and Mom’s the Word 3: Nest ½ Empty. Deborah has been nominated for ten Jessie awards and won three.

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  • Bob Matthews

    Bob Matthews

    Community Member | Langara Pioneer

    Bob was a Board Member on Langara Board of Governors and Chair of the Administration and Finance Committee. He played an instrumental role during the transition of the College from a campus of Vancouver Community College to Langara College. He worked tirelessly to convince the provincial Ministry of Education to consider making Langara an independent post-secondary institution. Bob is a retired businessman and currently serves as a director of a number of listed-companies and maintains an active interest in the junior resource sector. He is a long-time supporter of high performance sailing in Canada and was the Commodore of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club in 2004, served as President of BC Sailing, and was on the Board of Classic Yacht Association. Bob continues to be an active sailor and racer.

  • Patricia Woods

    Patricia Woods

    Current Employee | Nurse Educator

    Patricia has been teaching nursing for over 20 years with strong focus on health equity, advocacy, and nursing globalism. She was formerly the Assistant Chair of the Langara Nursing department. Patricia was part of the initiative that created the first-ever Post-Graduate Certificate in Nursing Leadership and Management for international nurses in Western Canada. She was also the Coordinator of the Continuing Studies Health Care Assistant program, which was the first educational partnership between Musqueam First Nation and Langara College. The program prepared Indigenous students to provide elder care in their community and to pursue a career in health care. Additionally, Patricia led Langara’s smoke-free campus initiative as Co-Chair of the Smoke-free Committee. She has received many awards including Langara’s Leadership Excellence Award in 2014; the Award for Excellence in Nursing Education (non-tenured) in 2015 from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing; and the Nursing Advocacy Award from the Association of Registered Nurses of BC in 2015. As the epitome of a lifelong learner, Patricia is currently pursuing a PhD in Nursing at the University of Victoria.

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