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NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group and Ogichidaang Gagiigatiziwin Meet

Posted on October 3, 2017

Using a combination of web- and teleconference connectivity across Northern Ontario, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) held its quarterly meeting of the Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) and Ogichidaang Gagiigatiziwin—NOSM’s Circle of Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers—on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. Members began their one-day meeting with an opening prayer from Elder Tom Chisel, followed by a welcome from Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean, and Dr. David Marsh, Deputy Dean and Associate Dean, Community Engagement.

Indigenous Reference Group Co-Chairs, Drs. Charles Branch and Shannon Wesley, alumni of NOSM’s Family Medicine residency program, led the meeting. Members of the IRG and Ogichidaang Gagiigatiziwin received updates from NOSM’s MD and postgraduate education programs; Charlene Carson, second-year NOSM medical student, who spoke about her first-year placement in her home community of Biigtigong Nishnaabeg—also known as Pic River First Nation; and, Alethea Kewayash from Cancer Care Ontario, who spoke about the Aboriginal Cancer Strategy (ACS) III.

During the meeting, details were provided about NOSM’s newest class of medical students who began the MD program in September 2017

  • 92% of the medical students are from Northern Ontario;
  • 8% are from other rural and remote areas of Canada; and,
  • 11% of the class has self-identified as Indigenous.

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 and research. Reporting to the Dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the IRG provides advice to the School’s initiatives, including research, administration, and academic issues in the promotion of excellence in higher learning and accommodation of the Indigenous world view.

“We were pleased to have the Ogichidaang Gagiigatiziwin join the Indigenous Reference Group for this meeting,” said Tina Armstrong, NOSM’s Director of Indigenous Affairs. “The contributions of Ogichidaang Gagiigatiziwin and the Indigenous Reference Group ensure that NOSM’s senior leadership understand the needs of Indigenous Peoples in our region. Their involvement helps the School constantly evolve its programs and policies to better serve Indigenous Peoples in Northern Ontario.”

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s next Indigenous Reference Group meeting is scheduled to occur in December 2017.