“We are pleased to be the first province in Canada to establish a specialized academic department focusing on Indigenous health,” Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “Our government is committed to ensuring health-care professionals across our province receive the advanced education and training needed to support the unique health-care needs of Indigenous peoples and their families.”
The Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness received University Council approval in April 2023, and will serve as a welcoming space for Indigenous health researchers, learners, and faculty in the college.
“Indigenous health is a priority for the college,” said Dr. Preston Smith, College of Medicine dean, “and this new department will be Indigenous-led and ensure research is informed by Indigenous community needs.”
An extensive consultation process led by Dr. Janet Tootoosis, interim vice-dean of Indigenous health in the college, supported the successful approval of the new department. Now, Tootoosis and her team will focus on the first phase of implementation – staffing the department and building its capacity in collaboration, mentorship, and networking.
“In this work, we will have the department goals top of mind,” said Tootoosis. “Those goals are to address Indigenous health inequities, systemic racism, and the scarcity of Indigenous health research that truly supports Indigenous health and wellness.”
The department will also build capacity for the college to effectively respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Calls to Action. It will function as a hub for research related to Indigenous health and wellness, and will foster collaboration by bringing together Indigenous health researchers from across the university. The work of the department will also influence how medical education and scholarship incorporates Indigenous knowledge and systems.
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