Message from the Director

director.jpgUllakuut and welcome to the website of Wâpanachakos, Indigenous Health Program at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. I would first like to acknowledge I am on Treaty no. 6 Territory as a guest. I am originally from Churchill with Swedish/Anglo and Inuit ancestry, as a member of the Voisey family from the Kivalliq region in Nunavut. My parents are James Clark and Grace Voisey and my grandparents were John and Frances Voisey. It is an honour to live and work with my relatives who also reside here.

Wâpanacahkos is a Cree term that means “the morning star” because of its significance to youth and renewal with its omnipresence in the sky. Wâpanacahkos symbolizes ‘the beginning,’ as part of the cycle of life. I wish to express my deep gratitude to Mosom Rick Lightning for sharing his vision for the program as the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry moves forward with the Indigenous communities it serves.

Faculties of medicine in Canada have made significant efforts to encourage more Indigneous applicants to medical school through targeted programs as part of admission processes. The University of Alberta was the first to do so in 1988. Since then, the Faculty of Medicine has graduated over 130 Indigenous medical students. However, there is a need for increased collaboration with Indigenous communities to develop new programming that is pertinent to First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples today.

Wâpanachakos has formed partnerships with Alberta First Nations to work together to achieve shared goals such as culturally safe admission processes and new course material on Indigenous traditional healing. Another shared goal of these partnerships is to offer medical training on reserve and in other northern, rural, and remote communities to provide a greater scope of practice reflective of Canada's diverse health care system.

As a leader in Indigenous education in the medical and dental health sciences,  Wâpanachakos strives to create learning opportunities that are culturally safe and demonstrate a necessity for Indigenous education within the health professional programs. Wâpanacahkos staff work closely with the National Consortium of Indigenous Medical Education to develop new Indigenous medical education, assessment tools, methodologies, and policy frameworks to help ensure educational organizations are living up to their obligations.

It is my distinct privilege to present to you the Wâpanacahkos website as we start our journey toward the path forward for Indigenous medical education in the spirit of truth and reconciliation.


Wayne Clark. EdD, MA, BBA
Executive Director