Dr. Bonnie Jeffery has spent most of her academic career working far from the University of Regina’s main campus. She lives and works out of Prince Albert, nearly 400 kilometres north-east of Regina. Much of her time is spent travelling, south for meetings and north to small communities for her research. “This is not everybody’s cup of tea, but for me, being in rural and northern areas is really important for the work I like to do. It’s perfect!”1
Currently, she is coordinator of the Bachelor of Social Work program based at the Prince Albert campus, and is a research faculty member with the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit and the Indigenous People’s Health Research Centre.
As a professor with the Faculty of Social Work, she has assisted hundreds of people – many of them women and many long past high school – to graduate with degrees in social work. “The decentralized program allows people to access university education within or near their home communities where they live, work and care for families.” It also makes university education far more affordable for students.
She is considered by colleagues to be one of the outstanding social policy and health science researchers in Canada. She prefers the community development approach for her research, where the community participates fully from designing of the project through to reviewing and publicizing the results.
It is important to her that research has some direct value to the community. A recent project developed tools to help First Nations health organizations evaluate the impact of their health and social service programs on community wellness and capacity. “Food security is a big issue in northern regions and it very directly affects the health of individuals. If you are a health director and you want to measure progress on food security, part of the project will outline the things that you need to measure.”
Bonnie was born in Eston, Saskatchewan, in 1953. She shares her life and love of rural and northern Saskatchewan with her husband, Peter Brook, and her two stepchildren, Ayla and Lillith. She received her interdisciplinary doctorate in Social Work and Health Services Research from the University of British Columbia in 1999.
Jeffery, Bonnie. Correspondence with SWCC, 11 November 2005 and 4 January 2006.
Sporat, Deborah. “Making a difference.” The Third Degree. University of Regina Relations. University of Regina, Fall 2004, 10-12.
1. All quotations from Sproat.