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NOSM Adopts “Indigenous Peoples” Terminology

Posted on May 10, 2016

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and the School’s Indigenous Reference Group (formerly known as Aboriginal Reference Group) together announce NOSM’s adoption of the terminology “Indigenous Peoples” in place of “Aboriginal Peoples.”

This change in terminology, recommended by NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) was motivated by the Canadian Government’s recognition of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People, included within the “Calls to Action” made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). The term “Indigenous,” used by the United Nations, is meant not to refer to people living in any particular region, but recognizes first peoples and their rights around the world.

“It is the role of the Indigenous Reference Group to advise NOSM’s Dean on matters that are important to the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Ontario,” says Dot Beaucage-Kennedy, Chair of NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group. “The adoption of the term ‘Indigenous’ by NOSM is important to acknowledging the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and is another way that NOSM is demonstrating its acknowledgement of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Northern Ontario, and the importance of the participation of Indigenous Peoples in the education of future health professionals.”

“I have deep gratitude for the advice provided to me from the Indigenous Reference Group, and I appreciate the importance of the terminology used by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to acknowledge the rights of Indigenous Peoples,” says Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM’s Dean. “The Northern Ontario School of Medicine remains committed to addressing the needs of Indigenous Peoples across the region to ensure that NOSM is accountable to the cultural diversity of Northern Ontario.”

NOSM is guided by a social accountability mandate to contribute to improving the health of the people and communities of Northern Ontario. NOSM serves as the Faculty of Medicine of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Laurentian University in Sudbury, with over 90 teaching and research sites across NOSM’s wider campus of Northern Ontario.

As part of their education, NOSM medical students spend four weeks living and learning in one of more than 40 Indigenous communities across Northern Ontario during their first year of the MD program. NOSM and the Indigenous Reference Group periodically host Indigenous Partnership Gatherings that bring together Indigenous Peoples from across the region to discuss how NOSM can better serve Indigenous communities.