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. Admission bursaries and other financial assistance may be available for successful applicants, pending needs. We invite you to self-identify if you are First Nation, Inuit or Métis on your admission application.
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 WGPA, is then calculated and a final selection is made for the offers of admission.
Required documents for First Nation, Inuit or Métis candidates
If you identify as First Nation, Inuit and/or Métis on your application, you must submit following documentation:
Proof of Indigenous ancestry. Acceptable proofs of ancestry include (but are not limited to) the following:
Status or Treaty card;
A membership card in a Métis registry recognized by the Métis National Council (Métis Nation of Ontario, the Manitoba Métis Federation, the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan, the Métis Nation of Alberta and the Métis Nation British Columbia)
Nunavut Trust Service card; or Inuit Roll Number (Beneficiary Card).
A letter that includes the following:
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 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.
For all questions regarding admissions, please call our admissions team at 613 562-5409 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 legendary Algonquin Chief, Pakinawatik, Algonquin Elder William Commanda from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, 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 (Morning Star). She chose well as Elder Commanda followed in Pakinawatik’s footsteps to become chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, a greatly revered leader in his own right and an honoured representative for all Indigenous 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 became a 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 were celebrated in Valerie Pouyanne’s documentary, Good Enough for Two.
Applicants to the William Commanda Aboriginal Medical Scholarship must:
be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident;
be registered as a full-time student in the UGME program at the Faculty of Medicine;
be of Indigenous ancestry; and
demonstrate financial need, as determined by the Financial Aid and Awards Service of the University of Ottawa.
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.
“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. One session is geared for post-secondary students and adults who are considering applying to the medical program in the near future; a second session is designed for youth who wish to explore a career in medicine or who simply want to see first-hand what medical school is like.
During their day at the uOttawa Roger Guindon campus, participants explore one aspect of human health using the Case Based Learning method similar to those offered to our medical students. This includes a study of one body system and several medical conditions in the human body, learning basic skills (using a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, etc.), a visit to our anatomy lab, practicing casting and suturing, and other physician skills. Our Indigenous medical students and/or residents will also discuss their personal journey to being accepted into medical school and their experiences at the Faculty of Medicine. Our Program Director shares what it is like to be an Indigenous physician practicing in a remote community as well as the many other opportunities in the profession. Time is allotted for questions and answers. The mini-med school also welcomes participation by a local Elder and explores the importance of integrating Indigenous culture and healing into health care.
“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”. Dates for upcoming mini-med schools will be announced on this page. The post-secondary session is typically scheduled for the month of January, while the youth event is held in February of each year. Guidance counsellors, students and other interested parties may also contact our Indigenous Program Coordinator to request to be added to our mailing list and receive a notice regarding our upcoming mini-med school sessions.
We have scheduled two sessions of the Mini-Med School for winter 2020. The first session, on Saturday January 25, 2020, is intended for post-secondary students and adults. The second session, on Saturday, February 22, 2020, is geared to students in Grades 7 to 12 and youth.
The deadlines to register are as follows:
For the January 25 session (Post-Secondary/Adults), please register by Friday, January 10, 2020.
For the February 22 session (High School/Youth), please register by Friday, February 7, 2020.