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Alberta's human services minister meets with university researchers and deans

Working session brings together five faculties and 15 child health researchers to help develop more evidence-based practice and policy in Alberta
April 27, 2016
From left, Jon Meddings, dean, Cumming School of Medicine; Dianne Tapp, dean, Faculty of Nursing, Irfan Sabir, Alberta minister of Human Services; and Richard Sigurdson, dean, Faculty of Arts. Photo by Laura Herperger

From left, Jon Meddings, dean, Cumming School of Medicine; Dianne Tapp, dean, Faculty of Nursing, Irfan Sabir, Alberta minister of Human Services; and Richard Sigurdson, dean, Faculty of Arts. Photo by Laura Herperger, University of Calgary 

As the saying goes, "little things make big things happen." That was the idea in the minds of deans, researchers and academic leaders from five faculties as they met with Alberta’s minister tasked with helping families and children at-risk in the province.

The Honourable Irfan Sabir, minister of Human Services, spent a productive afternoon visiting the University of Calgary’s Owerko Centre at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute on Monday April 25.  

Attendees were invited to discuss ways to improve services for children facing social and biological developmental delays at the working session which delved into current research at the university covering challenges such as family violence, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FAS), addiction, bullying, and parent-child bonding.

The session sought to establish strong links with the minister’s mandate of developing more evidence-based practice and policy in Alberta.

The minister was elected to the constituency of Calgary-McCall in the past provincial election and since mandated to lead the Ministry of Human Services. He left the meeting saying he was “very pleased with the degree of collaboration and multi-disciplinary approach taken by researchers.”

The five faculties and 15 child health researchers, representing the Werklund School of Education, Cumming School of Medicine along with the faculties of Arts, Nursing and Social Work, participated in an informal and open dialogue. The University of Calgary is a leader in advancing and promoting child health through research and learning and these faculties are home to internationally recognized child health researchers with chairs including child neurology, early development, child and maternal health and parent-infant mental health.

Minister Sabir says he felt pleased to be visiting the university, as he holds a juris doctor degree and a degree in social work from the University of Calgary. He also holds a degree in economics from the University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan. He was born in Kashmir, Pakistan, but has called Calgary home since 2004.

The Owerko Centre was opened last year by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute with donations from a Calgary family to pursue multi-disciplinary research with a focus on developmental and child mental health.