Faculty of medicine community members Dr. Nadine Caron and Shawna Narayan have been named recipients of UBC’s inaugural Envisioning Equality awards.
The awards celebrate exceptional women and gender-diverse faculty and staff who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to their individual academic or professional practice and significant impact through mentoring and community engagement. Each recipient will be represented in a unique image featured on street banners on UBC campus. The art project, created by a local artist, will launch in 2023.
“Everything we do as a society depends upon the skills, talents and contributions of women and gender-diverse individuals around the world,” said UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa J. Ono in a release. “I would like to congratulate the Envisioning Equity recipients, and to say a heartfelt thank-you for all that you do at UBC, and in the community.”
Dr. Caron is a professor in the department of surgery in the faculty of medicine’s Northern Medical Program and founding co-director of the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health (CEIH). She has a focus on research programs teaching, mentorship and advocacy for Indigenous equity that are so closely intertwined it is difficult to describe them in separate categories. Her research and clinical work directly impacts inclusivity for Indigenous patients.
Dr. Caron is a trail-blazing Indigenous scholar who leads the Northern Biobank Initiative and co-leads the Silent Genomes project, which addresses equity in genomic diagnosis. Although this project is focused on the delivery of rare disease genetic health care, it also addresses the lack of genomic reference data for Indigenous people of Canada in publicly available databases.
Dr. Caron’s advocacy is not limited to Indigenous patients and community members. She is a tireless advocate for better recruitment and retention of Indigenous researchers and trainees in health professions at UBC and beyond. She led the proposal the CEIH and co-led the creation of the CEIH’s own “UBC Certificate in Indigenous Public Health.” She is also responsible for a cultural safety and humility curriculum for first-year UBC students in 13 health professions. Based on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #23 and #24, the UBC 23-24 curriculum was launched in 2017 through the CEIH. To date approximately 2000 UBC students have completed this curriculum.
Shawna Narayan, a research analyst in the faculty of medicine’s department of family practice, is dedicated to addressing inequalities in healthcare and education. As part of the REDONNA study team, she contributes to crucial research that aims to the improve safety of opioid prescribing in primary care. The study investigates the effectiveness of individualized prescribing portraits to reduce inappropriate initiation of opioid analgesics.
Shawna is also the executive director of Empower The Future, an award-winning non-profit organization. Through her non-profit’s projects, she focuses on breaking barriers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields for underrepresented groups, providing mentorship and peer-support to inner-city youth transitioning to post-secondary school, and supporting youth mental wellbeing.
In reflecting on her experience as one of the few women in her UBC physics lab, Shawna created the Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) project to provide support for underrepresented groups (Women, 2SLGBTQIA+, Indigenous, and individuals with disabilities and/or mental illnesses) in STEM by developing informative workshops and much-needed resources. Her mission is for society to understand that there is no way forward in STEM without inclusivity of marginalized, creative, and barrier-breaking people.