Indigenous Health

“Health disparities between First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and the general Canadian population continue to exist. Canada’s history of colonization of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples with its resulting racism, discrimination and marginalization continue to affect the health and well-being of many communities.”1 Shorter life expectancy, higher suicide rates, higher prevalence of infectious disease and higher unemployment rates are just a few of the disparities that exist between FN/I/M and the general population.

To provide medical students with the opportunity to become engaged in and learn more about these issues, the LOIHs put on a 12-hour elective that can be used to meet the pre-clerkship elective requirements. This elective provides both classroom learning experiences, with guest speakers from other faculties and Indigenous communities, and opportunities to actively engage with Indigenous communities and culture off-campus. Click here for more information about the Community Engagement electives.

We hope that by developing the indigenous health program through the MSA Community Engagement team and by advocating for its prioritization in curriculum, we can help to ensure that we become healthcare providers who understand cultural safety in our practice and who advocate for the rights of this underserved population.

The Local Officers of Indigenous Health (LOIHs), with the assistance of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students National Officer of Indigenous Health, fulfill the following objectives:

  • Create new and sustain existing partnerships with external Indigenous health-related organizations such as IPAC and NAHO.
  • Encourage and support collaboration of the interest groups with Indigenous and non-Indigenous healthcare professionals and traditional healers in developing skills needed for the provision of effective health care for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis patients.
  • Promote the adoption of core competencies in Indigenous Health (as outlined in the document “First Nations, Inuit, Métis Health Core Competencies: A Curriculum Framework for Undergraduate Medical Education”) as mandatory components of undergraduate medical education in Canada.
  • Support and encourage local efforts to incorporate appropriate Indigenous health content in the undergraduate medical education curriculum.
  • To promote medicine as a career for Indigenous students and highlight mentorship opportunities to support students.
  • Aid medical schools with the identification of optimal approaches to provide and promote healthcare using models that are effective, relevant, and acceptable to Indigenous populations.

1 IPAC First Nations, Inuit, Métis Health Core competencies.

Additional Resources

National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO)

Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Please also see here for the IPAC First Nations, Inuit, Métis Health Core competencies. This document defines cultural safety and provides an overview of some of the persistent health disparities between First Nation, Inuit, Métis peoples and the overall Canadian population, highlighting the urgent need to prioritize the health and well-being of these communities in medical school curriculum.