In 2005, the Faculty of Medicine established the Indigenous Program to develop awareness of Indigenous issues and increase the number of Indigenous students in the medical education program. This is achieved by introducing Indigenous-specific content and traditional healing methods into the curriculum and through a number of recruitment activities targeted to the Indigenous community. This includes two “mini-medical school” events that the Faculty of Medicine hosts annually for Indigenous candidates interested in entering medical school.
It is the goal of our program to produce Indigenous physicians who will, alongside with their colleagues, become proficient in Indigenous health care to serve urban, rural and remote First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Seven seats are reserved per year in the Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) Program for candidates of Indigenous ancestry. Successful applicants may choose to study in either the English or French language stream.
The Indigenous Program supports all First Nations, Inuit and Métis students throughout their medical education and clinical training via group social activities, facilitating access to Elders, cultural supports and mentoring, assisting the student-led Indigenous Health Interest Group, and other activities. These supports are available to all Indigenous students, whether they have entered the program through the Indigenous admissions process or not. Students of Indigenous ancestry who have entered via another stream are welcome to self-identify to the Indigenous Program.
The Indigenous Program also serves as a resource and support to all students and faculty members. We ensure that Indigenous health and social issues, including their historical and social context, are an integral part of the UGME curriculum, starting with a mandatory Indigenous awareness day for all new students. We engage with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities to secure and promote Community Service Learning placements and elective opportunities for all students. This focus ensures that medical students will practice culturally safe care in serving Indigenous populations.
An advisory group consisting of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Elders, local and regional Indigenous community members working in the health and education sectors along with two medical student representatives, meets biannually to provide advice, guidance and support to the Indigenous Program. They also serve as important resources as the Program works to incorporate Indigenous content and activities into the curriculum.
As of the 2016-17 academic year, 69 Indigenous students are attending or have graduated from the Faculty of Medicine’s UGME program. It is our hope that these physicians and physicians-in-training become role models and leaders in their respective fields, working to improve the health of Indigenous patients, families and communities.
“As Director of the Indigenous Program, I am proud of the Faculty’s efforts in our support of students and our engagement with Indigenous Elders and community partners across Canada. We are making a difference together in bringing our knowledge and experience in Indigenous health to both Indigenous and mainstream health care settings.” - Dr. Darlene Kitty, Director, Indigenous Program.
Admission process for First Nation, Inuit or Métis candidates
The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa has established a dedicated admission process for candidates of Indigenous ancestry as part of its mission to improve access to better health care for First Nation, Inuit or Métis peoples, and to better serve society’s needs.
First Nation, Inuit or Métis candidates who meet the stipulated admission eligibility requirements for the UGME program will compete for a designated number of admission positions. Currently, up to seven seats are reserved through this admission process. Admissions bursaries and other financial assistance may be available for successful applicants, depending on availability of funding.
We invite you to self-identify if you are First Nation, Inuit or Métis on your admission application.
Applicants who wish to be considered via this dedicated admission process must complete the full application at the Ontario Medical Schools Application Service (OMSAS), along with additional required documents.
Applicants of Indigenous ancestry may choose to study in the English or French language stream. Your choice of language of instruction must be indicated on your application. For more information, please visit the choice of language of instruction page.
First Nation, Inuit or Métis candidates who are invited to an interview are assessed by an Indigenous Admissions Subgroup. A composite score of the interview assessment, combined with the cGPA, is then calculated and a final selection is made for the offers of admission.
Required documents for First Nation, Inuit or Métis candidates
A declaration of Indigenous ancestry with specific information about your First Nation, Treaty, community or organizational affiliation
A request for consideration under the alternate admissions process
Details on your academic and personal background
An explanation of your reasons and motivation for wishing to become a physician
A letter of recommendation from your First Nation, Band Council, Tribal Council, Treaty organization, or your community or organizational affiliation.
This additional documentation must be submitted directly to OMSAS, along with transcripts and academic documents by the OMSAS deadline.
Please note that some applications for proof of Indigenous Aboriginal ancestry may take 6 to 12 months or more to process. Contact the organization that applies to your situation and plan your application accordingly.
Checklist: Admission Process for First Nation, Inuit or Métis Candidates
Verify that you will meet the admission eligibility requirements for the UGME program.
Choose your preferred language of instruction.
Collect all supporting documents for self-identified First Nations, Inuit or Métis applicants that are required to be included with your OMSAS application.
Apply to OMSAS, with all supporting documents, by the deadline.
Selected candidates are invited to an interview. Applicants who are being considered via the dedicated admissions process are interviewed by the Indigenous Admissions Subgroup.
The Faculty of Medicine issues offers to successful candidates.
The Indigenous Program contacts new students admitted via the dedicated admissions process to offer supports.
Applicants who gain entrance to the Faculty of Medicine’s UGME program via the Indigenous admissions stream may be provided with an entrance scholarship. Successful applicants are contacted in August with information on how to access the scholarship, which may be applied to tuition.
The great, great grandson of the legendry Algonquin Chief, Pakinawatik, Algonquin Elder William Commanda from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Maniwaki, Quebec, was imbued with a sense of leadership from a very early age. Born under the morning star on November 11, 1913, his mother was inspired to call him Ojigkwanong. She chose well as Elder Commanda followed in Pakinawatik footsteps to become chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, a greatly revered leader in his own right and an honoured representative for all Aboriginal people. As a traditional guide, trapper and woodsman for much of his life, he was also passionate about promoting environmental stewardship and respect for Mother Earth. He worked with the elements of the earth as a birch bark canoe maker and craftsman of international renown. He built a canoe for Queen Margrethe of Denmark, helped Pierre Trudeau repair his famous birch bark canoe and has a special display dedicated to his work at the Canadian Canoe Museum of Peterborough. At the age of 90, his canoe making skills and philosophy are celebrated in Valerie Pouyanne’s documentary, Good Enough for Two.
Applicants to the William Commanda Indigenous Medical Scholarship must:
be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
be registered as a full-time student in the MD program at the Faculty of Medicine;
The Indigenous Program and Faculty of Medicine encourage individuals, communities and organizations to contribute to the William Commanda scholarship’s Endowment Fund to ensure that the University of Ottawa can continue to offer financial support to Indigenous students as they train to become physicians.
Dr. Arlington F. Dungy Scholarship for Students in the Faculty of Medicine's Indigenous Program
This scholarship was created in honour of Dr. Arlington F. Dungy on the occasion of his retirement as Associate Dean and Director of the Indigenous Program at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ottawa. An annual scholarship is awarded to a deserving undergraduate student enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine’s Indigenous Program.
Thinking about medicine as a career? Want to meet and talk with our current medical students and the Indigenous Program team? Join us for our next session of “Come Walk in our Moccasins,” our mini-medical school program. This program is open to students in grade 7 up to post-secondary who wish to explore a career in medicine or who simply want to see first-hand what medical school is like.
“Come Walk in our Moccasins” was initiated in 2010 as a recruiting strategy to encourage First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to apply to the Faculty’s MD program. We invite members of the Indigenous community to experience a day in medical school that is organized and presented primarily by our own Indigenous medical students.
“Come Walk in our Moccasins’’ has proven to be very successful in inspiring Indigenous youth and students to consider a career in medicine, through the experience of role-modeling of our Indigenous medical students, staff and community members. After attending a mini-med school, many participants felt better prepared to approach our Admissions Officer for advice on application criteria, prerequisites and other requirements needed for admission to the Faculty of Medicine.
Since its inception in January 2010, we have welcomed 300 Indigenous participants to the mini-med school sessions, from within the Ottawa area, nearby First Nations reserves, and as far as northern Quebec and Atlantic Canada. We are pleased to encourage everyone to pursue their dream of becoming a doctor. Visit our 2015 Flickr photo album!
Join us for our next session of “Come Walk in our Moccasins” happening on Saturday, February 27th, 2021 from 10:00am – 1:30pm. This year we are offering it online via Zoom. Please sign up using our Event Brite link or email our Indigenous Program Coordinator to request more information, to register, or to be added to our mailing list.
The deadlines to register are as follows:
Please register by Wednesday, February 24th, 2021.