Skip to main content

Gwen Healey Akearok

Executive and Scientific Director
Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre
Photo de Gwen Healey Akearok avec les cils givrés par le froid
Photo de Gwen Healey Akearok avec les cils givrés par le froid
Location Born
Location Now
Education Pathway
School Subject

Gwen Healey Akearok is the Executive and Scientific Director of the Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre.

About me

I was born/grew up in:  Iqaluit, Nunavut

I now live in:  Iqaluit, Nunavut

I completed my training/education at: Bachelor's of Science (Physics) Queen's University; Master's of Science (Community Health and Epidemiology) University of Calgary; PhD (Public Health) University of Toronto

What I do at work

I am public health researcher and study diseases in human populations. Our research centre exists to answer the health questions of our communities. We work closely with communities all over Nunavut. We develop evidence-based programs and workshops that are delivered in schools and in communities. We work collaboratively to design and implement research and intervention studies that get us information we need to improve health for our families and communities.

My career path is

My mother worked in the hospital, so we sort of grew up in there. I changed career paths a few times. I wanted to be a physician but was told I was too squeamish for medicine. So, I studied physics because I was interested in medical imaging and the physics of those tools. I felt that it was too isolating a field for me and that what I really loved to was to be with people and to support them to feel well.

I also loved research and having and learning the tools to answer important questions for our community. As a result, I studied physics, then I did a masters in community health and epidemiology, where I could apply some of my math skills and focus on problem-solving. But I also use the opportunity to explore what makes our approach to health and well being different in Nunavut – and to articulate how what we do is different then what is taught in a traditional academic environment. To highlight our strengths.

I later did a PhD so I could focus on storytelling and creating a space where we could showcase the strengths of our communities. I also wanted to support Nunavummiut to share their successes with a wider audience – across Canada and in the Circumpolar world. I have been fortunate to be the recipient of tremendous support from my community members, elders (and they continue to guide and teach me), and have had wonderful guidance from people who mean a lot to me.

I am motivated by

My motivation is my love for my community and being able to put my strengths and skills to work for our collective benefit now and for future generations.

How I affect peoples’ lives

We are very fortunate in that we have the privilege of being in service to our fellow community members - using research and science as a tool for action to affect change for the better.

Outside of work I

I swim regularly, volunteer with my children's activities. I'm being trained as a fitness instructor to help promote fitness and mindfulness in our communities through a volunteer organization in Iqaluit. Promoting physical activity for all ages and abilities.

My advice to others

Follow your heart. You can do anything.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Geography
  • Math
  • Home Economics
  • Foods & Nutrition
  • Industrial Arts
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Sewing, carving and beading
  • Indigenous Studies/Languages
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Brought people together
  • Liked helping people
  • Organized activities for my friends
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Liked being given free range to explore my ideas
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Liked reading
  • Liked to design or build things
  • Engaged in activities such as fishing
  • Learned Best by Doing

Related Topics

Explore Career Profiles

  • Rhiannon Cooper headshot taken outside with trees and plans in the background

    Rhiannon Cooper


    I monitor the patterns and trends of infectious diseases across the province.
  • Khashayar Farzam headshot

    Khashayar Farzam (he/him)

    Emergency Medicine Doctor

    As an ER doctor, I take care of any patient who comes through the hospital door for literally anything!
  • Peter Vlasveld headshot

    Peter Vlasveld

    Intermediate Software Developer

    I write backend code for web apps that help in Cyclica's drug discovery efforts.
  • Andrea Brack recycling at work

    Andrea Brack

    Environmental and Regulatory Team Coordinator

    I lead a team of environmental professionals at a large petrochemical manufacturing facility.
  • Pamela Power photo taken outside in winter with trees in background

    Pamela Power (she/her)

    Water Resources Specialist

    I provide technical review of projects that may affect water resources to ensure your community’s rights and interests are being considered and protected.
  • Sara Knox headshot

    Sara Knox (she/her)

    Assistant Professor (biometeorology)

    I study ways to restore and protect ecosystems to help fight climate change.
  • Samantha Yammine

    Samantha Yammine (she/her)

    Science Communicator

    I create and share engaging science content on social media.
  • Corey Nislow headshot

    Corey Nislow (he/him)

    Professor and Genomics Research Chair

    I study how drugs work and how an individual’s genetic makeup can affect their response to drug treatment.
  • L. Creighton Avery looking at specimen using a microscope in her lab.

    L. Creighton Avery


    I examine human skeletal remains from archaeological sites to learn about their lives.
  • Yetong Dong headshot wearing lab coat

    Yetong Dong

    Research Assistant/Graduate Student

    I am studying to become a scientific researcher.
  • Portrait de Andrea Goldson-Barnaby

    Andrea Goldson-Barnaby

    Head of the Food division

    I teach and do research on the topics of Food Chemistry and Food Processing.
  • Jo-Anne McArthur photographing hog in pen.

    Jo-Anne McArthur (she/her)

    Photojournalist, Founder

    I operate a non-profit media organization that shows the lives of animals in pictures.
  • Adrienne Ethier

    Adrienne Ethier

    Environmental Risk Assessment Specialist

    I am responsible for evaluating potential exposure risks to people and the environment near nuclear facilities and mines.
  • Alyssa Smith headshot

    Alyssa Smith

    PhD Candidate in Cognitive Science

    I am researching how people’s attention is affected by factors in everyday life such as taking medications.
  • Karen Fleming

    Karen Fleming (she/her)

    Simulation Educator

    I help create education and training experiences that contribute to safer environments for patients.
  • Portrait de Dr. Marcia Anderson

    Marcia Anderson (she/her)

    Physician and Vice-Dean Indigenous Health, Social Justice and Anti-Racism

    I am a medical doctor and I work to help create culturally safe healthcare that is free of racism.
  • Luke Humphries working with biological sample in his lab.

    Luke Humphries

    Director, Process Development

    I lead teams of scientists to discover and develop the best ways of making drug molecules for clinical trials.
  • Portrait de Sydney Robinson

    Sydney Robinson

    Biomedical Engineer and Entrepreneur

    I am an entrepreneur who used my engineering background to design a device that helps amputees do daily tasks in a more painless manner.
  • Allison Guitor in her lab at McMaster University.

    Allison Guitor

    Researcher - Antibiotic Resistance

    I study antibiotic resistance, which is what makes bacteria able to live in the presence of antibiotics.
  • Le Dr Harpreet Kochhar devant un ordinateur dans son bureau.

    Dr. Harpreet Kochhar


    I am the head of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).