Once again, this academic year started off with a celebration of Aboriginal culture. On September 12, after attending introductory lectures on Aboriginal cultures, health and traditional medicine, first-year students were transported to Victoria Island, ancestral land of the Algonquin Nation. They enjoyed traditional food and cultural activities, including dancing an Honor Song that affirms its healing ways. They were captivated by traditional First-Nations dances, Métis jigging and Inuit Throat Singing and Drumming.
The following day, September 13, the Aboriginal Program held a Welcome Feast for the 4 new students. This provides them with the great opportunity to meet with students already in the Program, establish mentorship connections and to share traditional food while planning the events for the coming year.
In the agreement signed with Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and University (MTCU), 7 spaces are reserved every academic year for Aboriginal candidates (First-Nations, Inuit and Métis from across Canada) who are committed to pursuing a career in Medicine. Aboriginal candidates compete amongst themselves for these designated seats.
When applying to the Faculty of Medicine's Aboriginal Program, you will need to submit your application to The Ontario Medical Schools Application Service (OMSAS) and indicate that you would like to apply as an Aboriginal candidate and provide the following additional documentation:
- A letter that declares Aboriginal ancestry and provides specific information about First Nation, Treaty, community, or organizational affiliation. The letter should expand on the applicant’s academic and personal background, explain about their connection to an aboriginal community and reasons and motivation for wishing to become a physician.
- A letter of recommendation from the First Nation, Band Council, Tribal Council, Treaty, community or organizational affiliation.
- Proof of Aboriginal ancestry. This documentation must be submitted to OMSAS by October 1st, of the year of the application.
Mini Medical Schools (MMS) “Come and Walk in our Moccasins”
“Come and Walk in our Moccasins” was initiated in 2010 as a recruiting strategy to encourage Aboriginal people to apply to the Faculty of Medicine. We invite Aboriginal youth, post-secondary and mature students to experience “a day in medical school”, by attending this highly successful initiative, primarily organized and presented by our own Aboriginal medical students.
We now have students who have successfully entered the Aboriginal Program after attending the Mini-Medical School. Since its inception in January 2010, we welcomed 130 Aboriginal participants, encouraging them to pursue their dream of becoming a doctor.
Three sessions were offered during the winter of 2013:
On January 19, 9 adults braved a snow storm to attend and really enjoyed their day.
To view photos from the January 19, 2013, please click here.
On February 23rd, we welcomed 21 youth, coming from Pikwàkanagàn, Kanahwake Survival School, Akwesasne and the Ottawa area.
On March 14, a group of youth from Six-Nations and 3 youth workers were joined by an Inuk participant to learn more about what it is like to study medicine at U of Ottawa. They enjoyed the visit to the anatomy lab, learning how to use stethoscopes and how to do a cast.
Thinking about medicine as a career? Want to meet and talk with our current medical students? Join us for our next session of “Come and Walk in our Moccasins”. Dates for 2014 sessions will be announced later.
The Aboriginal Awareness Week events are organized by the Aboriginal Health Interest Group to encourage learning and discussion around Aboriginal health issues. Some of the presentations delivered in January 2012:
- Natural products used by First Peoples for Diabetes by Jonathan Ferrier, BA, BSc, PhD (c) uOttawa and Grad Fellow, NYBG
- Windigo: the Anishinaabe medical tradition and its history of suppression by Patrick Laflèche, MD (c) 2013, uOttawa
- Remote Medicine and Lifestyle by Renée Vachon, RN, MD © 2014 and Sabrina Squire, RN, MD (c) 2014
- Screening of of Third World Canada, Andrée Cazabons’ heart wrenching documentary exploring the impact of poverty on children orphaned by suicide.
- Presentation by Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of First-Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
In addition to the Aboriginal Awareness Week, the Aboriginal Interest Group (AHIG), composed of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal medical students, hosted several events last year:
- Street Health Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull
- Dream Catcher Sessions
- Opioid Street Health Talk
- Sweat Lodge Ceremony
- Death Review of the Youth Suicides by Dr. Bert Lauwers, Deputy Chief Coroner-Investigations.
The Aboriginal Program has a strong relationship with nearby communities including the Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn (Golden Lake) and Kitigan Zibi (Maniwaki), as well as the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
This year, our students will have the opportunities to do electives in Ottawa at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and at with Tungasuvvingat Inuit Family Heatlh Team and other communities in and outside of the region.
We would like to thank Elder Albert Dumont, Elder Thomas Louttit, Elder Sally Webster and Senator Reta Gordon for their prayers and contribution to the Aboriginal Program.
For more information on the Aboriginal Program at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, please contact:
Dr. Darlene Kitty, Director
Tel: 613-562-5800, ext. 8137