The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) has engaged an expert panel to examine, report on, and make recommendations about the relationships, structures, and policies that exist between the school and indigenous peoples.
The panel was convened as part of the school's ongoing response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, specifically its 94 calls to action, released in 2015.
It will seek broad input from NOSM's Indigenous Reference Group, Elders Council, Indigenous Affairs Unit, indigenous communities and organizations, learners, faculty members, NOSM leadership, and staff.
The panel also will address the school's ability to integrate the interests and needs of indigenous peoples throughout its education and research programs, organizational culture, and daily interactions.
Panel members will consider important issues such as indigenous leadership, influence, and authority in the school; cultural safety and cultural and academic support in the learning and work environment at NOSM, evaluation of the effectiveness of the Indigenous Community Partnership Gatherings, and adequacy of support for the Indigenous Affairs Unit, the Indigenous Reference Group, and the Elders Council.
It also will examine specific curriculum related to indigenous history, tradition, culture, world view, and health, and organizational processes that respect indigenous history, tradition and culture.
“The Northern Ontario School of Medicine has a mandate to be accountable to the indigenous peoples and communities of the region,” said Darrel Manitowabi, interim director of Indigenous Affairs at NOSM.
“And if we are to be accountable, we have to reflect on where the school's relationship with indigenous peoples currently stands, and where it can be improved,” he noted.
“I hope the engagement of this panel, as well as its subsequent report and recommendations, will help strengthen relations while supporting improvements to indigenous health across Ontario,” Manitowabi added.
The majority of the panel work will involve consultation with stakeholders and key informants who can share their observations and experience with NOSM and its people, programs, and services, as well as a review of key documents related to the school's relationships with indigenous peoples and communities.
The four panel members are faculty members from other medical schools and Laurentian University, including:
- Dr. Marcia Anderson, Medical Officer of Health, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and executive director of Indigenous Academic Affairs, Ongomiizwin Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing, and Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba;
- Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek, Associate Vice-President, Academic & Indigenous Program, Professor, School of Rural and Northern Health, Laurentian University, Sudbury;
- Dr. Jerry Maniate, Vice-President, Education, The Ottawa Hospital, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Ottawa, and Invited Member, Wilson Centre for Research in Education, University of Toronto; and
- Dr. Lisa Richardson, Co-lead, Indigenous Medical Education, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto.
The panel's work will begin immediately, with a final report expected by this September.
“Regrettably, indigenous peoples experience daily systematic racism across Canada, in virtually every organization, including the Northern Ontario School of Medicine,” said Dr. Catherine Cervin, Vice-Dean Academic at NOSM.
“The expert panel will identify the steps necessary to create a positive way forward for indigenous peoples and communities, other Northern Ontario communities, and the school in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” she added.