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. 38

The student newspaper, The Voice, has published continuously since 1982. From 1965-1982, it was called The Savant.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

  • Jim Goard

    Jim Goard

    Retired Employee | Langara Pioneer

    Jim was Langara’s first Director of Information and Educational Technology, a position he held until he retired after 37 years of service. During his tenure, the department grew from a team of three people to an organization of over 50 who supported both administrative and instructional systems and resources. An active supporter of Langara’s Co-op Program, Jim hired many Langara students to work in the department. Jim was heavily involved in the ongoing implementation and support of the College’s many administrative systems, including those developed and acquired to support the operation of Langara when it separated from Vancouver Community College. Jim was also responsible for acquiring, implementing, and managing instructional computer resources and technology including computer labs, networks, and instructional software applications. A passionate advocate for cooperation and knowledge sharing, Jim was a founding member of the Higher Education Information Technology BC organization and was actively involved with its annual IT4BC conferences, BC’s premier conference for post-secondary education. For many years, Jim was also the Chair of the Langara College Administrators Association.

  • Kelley Lee

    Kelley Lee

    Langara Alum | Global Health Researcher

    Dr. Kelley Lee is an internationally renowned expert in global health, named among the world’s 50 key thinkers on globalization, 100 Women Leaders in Global Health, and top Canadian Women in Global Health List in 2018. She joined the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University in 2011 as Associate Dean, Research and Director of Global Health. She is currently a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Global Health Governance. Her research focuses on the need to strengthen collective action to address global health challenges including tobacco control, communicable disease outbreaks, and antimicrobial resistance. She is presently co-leading a project, in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority, to study commercial tobacco use in five BC First Nations communities. Prior to SFU, she was a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK where she spent over 20 years. She was a core member of two major studies at the World Health Organization, co-establishing the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Change and Health, and chairing the WHO Resource Group on Globalization, Trade, and Health. She has authored over 120 peer reviewed papers, 60 book chapters, and 14 books. She is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

    Read more
  • Gordon Hoekstra

    Gordon Hoekstra

    Langara Alum | Investigative Journalist

    Gordon is a reporter at The Vancouver Sun. He graduated from the Journalism program at Langara College in 1992. He worked at the Prince George Citizen for 19 years before joining The Sun. His investigations have delved into everything from workplace deaths and air pollution to securities fraud and money laundering. He has won seven Jack Webster awards. In 2009, he won the McGillivray Award for Investigative Journalism by the Canadian Association of Journalists. In 2007, he won a National Newspaper Award, and was a finalist for the same award on four other occasions. Gordon won the Michener Award for Public Service Journalism in 2006 and was a finalist in 2012 and 2017.

    Read more
View all

Thank You ToOur Partners

49 Langarans Contributing Sponsor

49 Langarans Friend/Community Partner

49 Langarans Media Partners