'I belong in academia' Indigenous grad students eager for summer school
The degree was in health leadership studies and she was working with seasoned health professionals who couldn't wrap their minds around how traditional healing and modern medicine could work together.
"I was experiencing some pretty strong resistance to being able to incorporate an Indigenous world view into the world," said Ambtman-Smith. "And I had to withdraw, because I didn't have a place there."
She took a break from her studies, crossed the country and found a program that was a better fit, under Indigenous health scholar Chantelle Richmond at Western University in London, Ont.
Many of them will be first-generation students, like I was... I was going into uncharted territory.- Jen Walker, Indigenous mentor and Canada Research Chair for Indigenous Health
"I get goosebumps when I think about that because that is the complete opposite experience of what I had out west, and that's a really big reason why this mentorship network is so important."
Ambtman-Smith's is one early success story of Ontario's Indigenous Mentorship Network, a project that includes the province's first Indigenous-led health training network — an ambitious undertaking that looks to grow the next generation of Indigenous health scholars by tackling health problems within First Nations communities.
First in family to go to university
"Many of them will be first-generation students, like I was. I was the first in my family to go to university, then I went to graduate school and no one in my family knew much about that," explained Walker.
"I was going into uncharted territory — which is the case for many Indigenous students. So it's a time when they can be with mentors and each other."
The school will also include practical lessons, like resume building, how to do community-based research and how to balance being a community member and researcher simultaneously.
The summer school runs June 11 to 15 at Laurentian University.