Serving those injured in service to Canada

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta has announced Canada's first research chair dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured soldiers and veterans.

The Canadian Military and Veterans’ Chair in Clinical Rehabilitation will, says Martin Ferguson-Pell, dean of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, create a national research network dedicated solely to military rehabilitation, while highlighting the real influence that university research chairs can have on national clinical practices.

"We know the formula works. This new chair at the University of Alberta will improve clinical rehabilitation care for our soldiers and veterans,” said Ferguson-Pell. "We will see the best minds at the University of Alberta—and at other institutions across this country—come together to do one thing: build academic capacity to advance knowledge and ensure that we can provide the best possible clinical care for our soldiers and veterans."

Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Donald Ethell was in attendance at Monday’s announcement at Edmonton’s James Curry Jefferson Armory. The veteran peacekeeper was among the six government, university and military officials to emphasize the importance of the chair.
"This is a huge leap forward," says Ethell. "I spent 40 years in the military and there was no thought of this before."

The U of A has yet to announce who will assume the role of chair holder but the search is underway. Once named, the chair will work closely with other researchers and clinicians from across Canada and with American researchers in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“We’re engaged in an effort to recruit the best person, someone who will be an international leader in his or her field, someone who has deep understanding of the Canadian Forces’ culture and someone who can move easily and with confidence in the academic and military worlds,” said Ferguson-Pell.

"The Canadian Forces welcomes this important initiative by the University of Alberta and looks forward to working with partners across the province to better the rehabilitation of our injured soldiers and veterans," said Peter MacKay, minister of national defence. "Men and women in uniform who stand on guard for our great nation deserve the very best care and I'm hopeful that initiatives such as this provide our ill and injured personnel access to cutting-edge care and support."

The provincial government is also lauding the establishment of this critical research chair, whose work will impact Canadian soldiers and veterans within the province and throughout the country. Doug Horner, MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert, is supportive of the announcement honouring those who serve. “They are prepared to put themselves in harm’s way, we should be prepared to do all we can when they need us,” he said. “This is an investment in that debt we owe.”

U of A Chancellor Linda Hughes drew attention at the announcement to the long-standing relationship between the University of Alberta and the Canadian Forces.

“Almost precisely a full century ago, Gordon Stanley Fife, one of the university’s first professors, headed overseas to fight for his country,” said Hughes. “The ties between the University of Alberta and the Canadian military are strong and they are about to become even stronger through the Canadian Military and Veterans’ Chair in Clinical Rehabilitation.”

Tonya Corry, a member of 11 Field Ambulance in Victoria and recent graduate of the University of Alberta’s occupational therapy program, represents one of the most current ties. 

“The basis of sound public policy and good clinical care rests on a foundation of solid, informed research,” says Corry. “This will become a truly national research network, with the U of A at its core.”

“[The U of A] is a national and international leader in so many disciplinary areas,” says Ferguson-Pell. “Today we celebrate another addition to that highly regarded and well-earned reputation for leadership.”