Thunder Bay

Northern health researcher earns Lakehead University's highest research honour

Pamela Wakewich's work has explored the health effects of violence against women in rural and northern communities, impacts on health care for seniors in northwestern Ontario, and gaps in reproductive health and maternity care.

Pamela Wakewich's work has explored gaps in reproductive health and maternity care, among other topics

Pamela Wakewich, centre, was presented with the Distinguished Researcher Award by Lakehead’s Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, Moira McPherson and Senate Research Committee Chair Grazia Viola. (Lakeheadu.ca)

A retired professor who has devoted her career to studying health issues in the north is the latest recipient of Lakehead University's highest honour for scholarly pursuits.

Pamela Wakewich was named the school's 2017 Distinguished Researcher at Lakehead's Research and Innovation Awards of Excellence reception on Thursday. 

She was, until her retirement in December, a professor of sociology and women's studies at the university and the director of its Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research.

Wakewich's work has explored the health effects of violence against women in rural and northern communities, impacts on health care for seniors in northwestern Ontario, and gaps in reproductive health and maternity care, among other topics.

During her almost 30 years at the university, Wakewich also helped found its Women's Studies department. 

"Absolutely delighted" is how she described her response to receiving the honour.

Still involved in research

"There are a wonderful array of researchers at Lakehead across all of our different fields, so it's really a great honour to have people recognize contributions over the years," Wakewich said.

"It feels in a way that it should be a team award, rather than an individual one," she added, noting that much of her research is collaborative and involves working with communities. 

Asked what she was most proud of achieving during her career, Wakewich said one stand-out experience was serving on the transitional council of the College of Midwives when midwifery was in the process of becoming regulated.  

"It brought a northern voice to determining policies like continuity of care and how we do continuing education and things, because our circumstances are so different," she said. "So it felt like that was a very important role to play."

Wakewich is still involved in research and is currently working on two projects with colleagues at the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research. One is related to birthing care in northwestern Ontario, and the other is exploring the development of a Centre for Excellence in Addictions and Mental Health in northwestern Ontario.