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NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group Members Discuss Progress

Group Learns about Ojibwe Classes Offered to MD Students, Increase in Indigenous Faculty Base, and Upcoming Indigenous Research Gathering

The Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) held a video-conference meeting between Thunder Bay and Sudbury on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Members began their one-day meeting with an opening prayer from Métis Elder Cameron Burgess, followed by a welcome and update on the School from Dr. Owen Prowse, NOSM’s Assistant Dean of Admissions and Acting Associate Dean of Community Engagement.

A highlight of the IRG meeting was a presentation from NOSM medical student Mireille Bohémier who talked about an exciting student led initiative to provide optional Ojibwe language classes to medical students. Earlier this year, Bohémier worked with Bruce Beardy, Native Language Instructors' Program Coordinator at Lakehead University, to provide 13 students with the opportunity to learn how to introduce themselves in Ojibwe, say some medical-related terms, and practice proper pronunciation. Bohémier reports the medical students were enthusiastic participants and that they hope to put their new language skills to use in future placements. 

Tina Armstrong, NOSM’s Director of Indigenous Affairs, was pleased with the reports from all areas of the School. “I’m seeing a huge shift in the level of medical student involvement in self-initiated Indigenous learning at the School,” says Armstrong. “The medical students are really wanting Indigenous mentors—someone they can go to, ask questions, and seek guidance. We’re actively working towards creating a stronger Indigenous faculty base. In fact, we now have five Indigenous NOSM MD graduates who’ve expressed interest in joining the existing 38 Indigenous faculty members at the School.”

Dot Beaucage-Kennedy, Chair of the NOSM’s Indigenous Reference Group, welcomes the opportunity to reflect on the great work being done by the IRG, Indigenous Affairs Unit, and NOSM. “As Chair of the Indigenous Reference Group, I am honoured to share great pride in promoting this awesome school of medicine. The leadership of our Indigenous Affairs Unit is outstanding, and we acknowledge their dedication to our learners,” says Beaucage-Kennedy.

The IRG was reminded about NOSM’s Indigenous Health Research Gathering taking place in Sault Ste. Marie in June 2016. The goal of the Gathering is to provide an opportunity for researchers (including researchers who themselves are Indigenous) to come together to acknowledge past experiences, generate future opportunities for positive and respectful relationships between Indigenous communities and researchers, and plan a path forward. The Gathering will be held on the traditional Ojibway territory of the Batchewana First Nation, neighboring the community of Garden River First Nation.

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 world view. The Indigenous Reference Group serves as the primary resource for the medical school in the fulfilment of its social accountability mandate as it relates to Indigenous health education.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine's next Indigenous Reference Group meeting is scheduled to occur in September 2016.

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centered, community-engaged education and research. 

Kimberley Larkin
Communications Officer
Phone: 705-662-7243
Email: klarkin@nosm.ca 


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