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Northern BC Research and Quality Conference 2023 – Looking to the Future: Health in the North


Conference attendees sit around a table
Attendees at one of the conference workshops: "Working with Patient Partners: Effectively Engaging the Patient and Family in Quality Improvement"

The 2023 Northern BC Research and Quality Conference took place November 7 to 9 at the University of Northern BC (UNBC) Prince George Campus, co-hosted by Northern Health and UNBC via the Health Research Institute. The conference is the result of the partnership between NH and UNBC, both of which are committed to supporting research, evaluation, and quality improvement projects to improve the health of people in the North and support professional development of health care workers. 

“When we come together… we have a lot of opportunities based on the “alignment” of what we can do together,” said Fraser Bell, PhD., NH VP Planning, Quality & Information Management. “The idea about bringing research and quality together is so unique in Northern BC.”  

The theme of this year’s conference was “Looking to the Future, health in the North.” It was an in-person event that brought together participants from all Northern regions as well as presenters and visitors from other parts of the province.  

The keynote speaker, Dr. Sheila Blackstock, UNBC Associate Professor, presented: “Decolonizing Health: Dismantle Oppression” and the plenary speaker, Dr. Terri Aldred, Carrier Sekani Family Physician, presented the topic, “Cultural safety and Anti-Indigenous Bias: Review and Discussion of Current Recommendations and Standards.” Both talks highlighted current frameworks and guidelines to enable cultural safety in health care and discussed how to better support Indigenous health initiatives to achieve health equity in Northern communities. The keynote speech and plenary speech recordings are available on the conference webpage

Woman stands at podium at UNBC
Elder Darlene McIntosh delivering a traditional welcome on day 2 of the conference.

The conference featured a panel discussion showcasing a seed grant program which was started to enhance health research in Northern BC, in collaboration with the Provincial Health Services Authority, NH and UNBC. The presentation included the recipients of past seed grants, including Dr. Esther Alonso, NH Clinical and Research Lead; Davina Banner-Lukaris, UNBC Professor; Dr. Lisa Ronald, Public Health Researcher; Emma Rossnagel, UNBC Research Manager; Caroline Sanders, UNBC Associate Professor; and Erica Koopmans, Child Health BC Regional Coordinator. During this panel, participants discussed the impact that receiving the seed grants had on their research activities, which included enabling research capacity development, building new research partnerships, and advancing knowledge in their field. 

“This conference shows how much you believe in health research and the effort you are putting into creating new knowledge, training next generations, and passing the knowledge to practitioners,” said Paula Wood-Adams, UNBC VP Research and Innovation. 

Speakers at the conference
Panel discussion at the seed grant presentation.

The conference also included a half-day dedicated to workshops for skills development. This year, the conference had nine workshops with topics ranging from understanding the role of Indigenous stories in health care, working effectively with patient partners, developing a data quality management program, and sharing tools to spark creativity and innovation pathways. According to participants, this day was worth attending and set the tone for future conversations and networking opportunities that the conference provided. 

As in previous years, this conference is supported by great teams of volunteers taking part in advising and planning, and patient-partner committees and activities reflecting organizational and regional diversity.  

For a quick conference overview, please watch the video with some pictures and voiceover from the conference. If you’re interested in learning more about this event and future ways to contribute, email hri@unbc.ca or research@northernhealth.ca. Thank you to all of this years’ attendees for making the conference so successful!