Aboriginal Celebration and Welcome
Aboriginal health is introduced to students in first year, so that all students will learn early in their medical education and training that, although Aboriginal peoples have prevalent health and social problems, their holistic approach to health, cultures and traditions enable healing and resiliency. Communication strategies and therapeutic interactions with aboriginal patients, families and communities are emphasized.
The Aboriginal Program relies on local and regional Aboriginal community involvement to help us carry out our mandate in training Aboriginal physicians and teaching Aboriginal health in the medical curriculum. The Introductory Unit in the UGME program includes a full day dedicated to Aboriginal health and social issues.
Starting with a lecture by a physician about Aboriginal health, including a historical and social context, first-year MD students then meet an Elder or an Aboriginal youth who will present their perspective on health and well-being as it impacts their personal life, family and community. Students then take part in an Aboriginal Celebration at Victoria Island, traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
The Aboriginal Celebration aims to present and celebrate the Aboriginal Program, demonstrate the commitment and social accountability of the Faculty of Medicine and highlight the importance of Aboriginal health and social issues in the medical curriculum. The afternoon also includes a traditional feast and a showcase of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures and traditions through music and dance.
Overall, the day is an opportunity to experience how protocol, ceremony, feasting and artistic expression are an integral part of contemporary Aboriginal culture and identity, and therefore of our healing journey. It is our hope that the Aboriginal Celebration will impart to all first year students as they begin their medical career, an understanding, appreciation and respect for the history, traditions and culture of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples.
During the month of September, the Aboriginal Program hosts a Welcome Feast for the new Aboriginal students starting out in UGME. The University of Ottawa’s Elder advisor is invited to say the opening prayer and share words of wisdom and encouragement. It is a time to establish support networks as new arrivals connect with returning upper year students and are introduced to the Aboriginal Resource Centre team. Our Program Director also leads a discussion on Aboriginal student priorities for the academic year.