Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and Treaty 8 First Nations celebrate commitment to new educational partnership

12 October 2022

A new partnership between Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta and the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine was celebrated through a special pipe ceremony held Oct. 11. 

Faculty, staff and students gathered with Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta in Corbett Hall to offer prayers and make a ceremonial commitment to working together. The aim is to create and develop educational activities related to rehabilitation medicine for Albertan high school students in Treaty 8. 

“Education is a treaty right. It is part of the circle of life — holistic, lifelong learning, including mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. I have high hopes for this partnership as it will provide holistic services that will enhance our children’s educational experiences,” says Treaty 8 Grand Chief of Education Billy Joe Laboucan. “Having our own First Nation practitioners through this partnership will begin to address the true meaning of our treaty rights and enhance the quality of life.”  

In recognition of education for reconciliation as recommended in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada’s Calls to Action, the faculty will be working to create and build pathways for Treaty 8 students by partnering to develop curriculum that is appropriate and integrates Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into the classes.

The faculty is also taking steps to raise awareness among Indigenous youth of educational opportunities and increase access to physical, occupational and speech therapy programs and professions — meeting a TRC-identified need for greater Indigenous representation in those professions.

“Our faculty is reflecting on how to participate in our own path of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous communities,” says Tammy Hopper, dean of rehabilitation medicine. “We recognize that we need to do better at creating an inclusive environment that respects the dignity and humanity of all of our members. This is a challenge we are committed to taking on, so that we may all be a part of driving necessary change. It is an honour to respectfully walk this path with Treaty 8.”

In addition, a new gathering space of reconciliation will be created for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, faculty, staff and community members within Corbett Hall. 

Treaty 8 consists of 24 Nations situated in Northern Alberta. 

In pictures: Partnership and the reconciliation efforts underway at the U of A’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine’s special ceremony to commemorate the beginning of this exciting partnership, Oct. 11.