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NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group Elects New Co-Chairs

Posted on May 19, 2017

The Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) held a face-to-face meeting in Thunder Bay on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. A highlight of the one-day meeting was the election of the group’s two new Co-Chairs, Drs. Chuck Branch and Shannon Wesley. The two NOSM faculty members are husband and wife, and physicians practising at Aurora Family Health Clinic in Thunder Bay. The IRG also welcomed new member Mr. Gary Martin, a representative from the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.

Members began the meeting with an opening prayer from Elder Cameron Burgess, followed by drumming and song by Dr. Chuck Branch, and reflections from Traditional Knowledge Keeper, Tom Chisel.

Outgoing Chair of NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group, Dot Beaucage-Kennedy, was thanked for her significant contribution to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine over the past six years. Elder Beaucage-Kennedy reflected on her time as Chair and thanked members of the IRG and Circle of Elders and Knowledge Keepers for their support over the years. “We’ve come a long way since I first started here,” she said, “It has been so great working with everyone, Roger (Strasser, NOSM Dean) and Tina (Armstrong, Director of Indigenous Affairs)–we are all like family.”

Other highlights from the day included discussions on NOSM’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, upcoming Indigenous Gatherings, the MD Program curriculum, research incorporating traditional healings into Western treatments for addiction and trauma, and Indigenous Admissions.

Dr. Penny Moody-Corbett, NOSM Associate Dean, Research spoke on the upcoming Pathways to Wellbeing workshop. The workshop will take place on June 28 in Thunder Bay and will focus on the topics of promoting life and life skills in order to address the higher than average youth suicide rates in Indigenous communities, particularly those in Northern Ontario.

Reporting to the NOSM Dean, the Indigenous Reference Group was established to provide advice to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s initiatives, including research, administration, and academic issues in the promotion of excellence in higher learning and accommodation of the Indigenous worldview. The Indigenous Reference Group serves as a resource for the medical school in the fulfilment of its social accountability mandate as it relates to Indigenous health education.