Attended KCSS • 1981–1986
Janet Smylie was born to Douglas and Mavis in 1968. She moved to King City at the age of 5, where she attended public school and then high school at KCSS. High school started on a difficult note as Janet lost her mother to breast cancer in the fall of grade 9. Fortunately, the support of family (especially her older sister Diane and step-mother Susan) as well as friends, teachers and staff at KCSS enabled Janet to continue to pursue her academic and extra-curricular interests, including: science, writing, long-distance running, travel, and music, throughout high school.
Janet’s current career as a family physician and Indigenous health researcher has roots in the excellent public education she had access to in King City, and both her Métis and European kinlines. She has practiced and taught family medicine in diverse urban and rural settings. Her research is focused on addressing the health inequities that challenge Indigenous infants, children, and their families. She does this by working in partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada and internationally, to improve health assessment, enhance services, and address barriers to equitable health service access. Dr. Smylie currently directs the Well Living House Action Research Centre for Indigenous Infant, Child, and Family Health where she leads multiple research projects and an interdisciplinary team of researchers.
Janet’s research is internationally respected by both academics and Indigenous community leaders for consistently producing innovative research that is of tangible benefit in expertly bridging population and public health research with Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. She stands out in her ability to acquire and successfully implement complex operating grants that are highly relevant across Indigenous community research partners, academic colleagues, health policy makers, and health service providers. Examples of her research contributions include: domestic and international evidence regarding Indigenous infant, child, and reproductive health and its application to demonstration projects and policies; unmasking inaccuracies in census data by building the first comprehensive urban Indigenous health datasets; and documenting how racism impacts Indigenous health, and how to address it.
Janet has been an invited keynote speaker in Australia, Europe (Oxford, Norway), New Zealand and US, and called on as an expert by federal ministers, federal and provincial roundtables, inquests, and inquiries. She has authored over 125 peer-reviewed academic publications and also shares her work through community presentations and reports, fact sheets, films and webinars. Recent tangible research impacts include: expansion of urban Indigenous health program and service funding (greater than $15 million) and new federal investments in Indigenous midwifery. Recognitions include: CIHR Trailblazer Award in Population and Public Health Research (2018); Family Physicians of Canada Top 20 Pioneer of Family Medicine Research (2015); and a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in Health (2012).
Janet is most grateful for the opportunities to parent 6 children, 4 of whom are now fully grown. She is a proud grandmother to 3 granddaughters. She is supported and loved by a strong circle of women in her ceremonial lodge. These women guide and help her in many ways including in her day to day work and her ceremonial life as a Métis woman. Her elder, Maria Campbell, has been by her side over the years and insists on excellence in every facet of Janet’s life. Janet has been married since 2015 to Nancy Cooper; together they share the parenting of their amazing 11-year old twin boys, Jay and Quinn.