Rehab Med students, faculty participate in first-ever National Gathering of Indigenous Elders

Student volunteers and faculty from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine provided rehabilitation information and demonstrations to attendees at the National Gathering of Elders

Amy Knezevich - 18 September 2017

The University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine took part in the inaugural National Gathering of Elders at the Edmonton Expo Centre from September 11-14, 2017.

The National Gathering of Elders welcomed First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups from all over Canada to participate in the event, which brought Elders together to share ideas, build community and discuss issues. The event included discussions on important topics facing Indigenous peoples of Canada including climate change, reconciliation, treaties and education, and also featured a Tradeshow and Holistic Wellness centre. An estimated 3,000-4,000 delegates of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Elders from across Canada attended the event.

Student volunteers, faculty and staff from the Departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy participated in the Holistic Wellness Centre at the event, where they provided information about the different services occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists have to offer. Volunteers also led demonstrations and treatments including paraffin wax bath therapy for hands, fall prevention presentations and hearing tests.

Along with other participating University of Alberta faculties, Rehab Med faculty and staff also marched in the Parade of Nations to officially open the event on Monday morning.

The event was a chance for students to learn appropriate and respectful approaches to providing rehabilitation services to the Indigenous community and Elders.

For more information about the gathering, visit

Michele Moon and Dr. Shaniff Esmail with OT student volunteers Hayley and Ashleyn. Photo: Lili Liu.