Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 18: Health (18-24)

Government of Canada invests in national coordination and Indigenous-led research on effective substance use interventions

June 11, 2024

NationTalk: Canadian Institutes of Health Research – Research plays a crucial role in understanding the complexities of substance use, guiding effective interventions, and ultimately saving lives. That’s why we must leverage Canada’s exceptional research talent and expertise to ensure our substance use health interventions, services, and policies are effective, equitable, and evidence-informed.

Today, the Honourable Ya’ara Saks, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, announced an investment of $6 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS) to expand and increase the impact of the Canadian Research Initiative on Substance Matters (CRISM). This new funding includes $4 million to create a Network Coordinating Centre and $2 million to develop an Indigenous Engagement Platform that will work collaboratively across the research network.

Dr. David Hodgins at the University of Calgary will lead the CRISM Network Coordinating Centre. Dr. Hodgins and his team will establish four core platforms, including one to co-create knowledge mobilization products and activities with stakeholders and partners, and a training and capacity building platform that includes research placements and scholarships as well as mentorship opportunities for early career researchers and Indigenous scholars across all network nodes. The Network Coordinating Centre will also facilitate a trials and project support platform to facilitate clinical trials, research studies and data sharing, and a platform to create processes and tools for the production of guidelines and best practice documents.

Dr. Robert Henry at the University of Saskatchewan will lead the development of the CRISM Indigenous Engagement Platform. Using distinctions-based and community-led approaches, Dr. Henry and his team will strengthen and increase Indigenous involvement across CRISM’s regional nodes by advising the Network Coordinating Centre on Indigenous research priorities, improving Indigenous engagement at all levels, and supporting CRISM to improve Indigenous health and well-being through Indigenous-driven efforts. The platform will include five core pillars: knowledge translation and mobilization, training of Indigenous students, Indigenous research priorities designed with Indigenous community partners, improving Indigenous methodologies for CRISM, and development of an Indigenous evaluation framework.

Supported by the Network Coordinating Centre and Indigenous Engagement Platform, CRISM’s network of over a thousand service providers, researchers, policy makers, patients, and people who use substances will work together to develop impactful, evidence-informed approaches to prevent and treat substance-related harms.


“Substance use is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing or reducing harms. We need to leverage research and data across the country to improve our understanding of substance use issues and shape evidence-based policies that offer real solutions and support those in need.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

“CRISM is a prime example of what’s possible when researchers are empowered to self-organize and improve policy and practice from the bottom up. These platforms will amplify the already impactful work of CRISM, ensuring the network’s continued success addressing critical substance use issues impacting individuals, families and communities across Canada.”

Dr. Samuel Weiss
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

“The sum is greater than the whole of its parts! The unique strength of CRISM is that the perspectives of researchers, policy makers, frontline service providers, our Indigenous partners, and people with lived and living experience come together to help develop solid evidence-based solutions to the challenges of addiction. This additional funding will support our five geographic nodes in working together in generating and sharing new information.”

Dr. David Hodgins
Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary

“Addressing the disproportionate experiences to substance use of Indigenous Peoples requires a concerted effort that provides opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, communities, researchers, knowledge keepers, youth, and those with living/lived experience to come together to inform broader research initiatives, programs, and knowledge mobilization outcomes. The CRISM Indigenous Engagement Platform (IEP) will provide opportunities for continued efforts to address the past, while looking to the future, while respecting Indigenous ways of knowing.”

Dr. Robert Henry
Assistant Professor, Department of Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan and Nominated Principal Investigator, Saskatchewan Network Environment for Indigenous Health Research

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Matters (CRISM) – formerly the Canadian Research Initiative in Substance Misuse – was established in 2015 by CIHR to build a national network in substance use research consisting of researchers, service providers, policy makers, and people with lived experience of substance use.
  • This cross-Canada research network is composed of five regional nodes located in British Columbia, Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic region.
  • CRISM provides a flexible and expandable platform for accelerating the development of local and pan-Canadian research and knowledge mobilization on substance use, including on prevention, harm reduction, and treatment.
  • CIHR is providing $6 million in new funding to strengthen and expand CRISM’s activities across Canada with a new Network Coordinating Centre and Indigenous Engagement Platform.

Associated links

Yuval Daniel
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research