Several medical and nursing schools across Canada offer courses on Indigenous health issues, but not all are mandatory.
The Call to Action:
We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism.
Several medical and nursing schools across Canada offer courses on Indigenous health issues, but not all are mandatory. However, the professional bodies have committed to making it mandatory.
In June 2021, the Canadian Nurses Association released a Declaration Against Anti-Indigenous Racism in Nursing and Health Care. The declaration states that “in nursing schools, we will provide education on the provision of culturally competent and relevant nursing care and require all student to learn about Aboriginal health issues (including the history and legacy of residential schools), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices (TRC Call to Action #24).”
The Declaration was created by leaders of the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Canadian Nursing Students Association, and Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada, with input from the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association.
The associations met in November 2021 for the first National Summit on Racism in Nursing and Health Care in Canada.
The second National Summit on Racism in Nursing and Health Care in Canada is scheduled for November 2022.
In May 2019, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada adopted a Joint Commitment to Action on Indigenous Health to address Calls to Action #23 and #24. The plan calls for culturally safe training for all medical students and policies that do a better job of supporting Indigenous staff and faculty.
In October 2017, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada approved a recommendation from the Royal College Indigenous Health Committee (IHC) that “Indigenous Health become a mandatory component of residency education, meaning curriculum, assessment and accreditation throughout medical training would address the health inequities and racism faced by Indigenous Peoples,” according to a Summary Table of Royal College Projects and their contributions to TRC Calls to Action.
Since 2017, the University of British Columbia has required students in medicine, genetic counselling, midwifery, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, dental hygiene, dentistry, dietetics, nursing, social work, audiology and speech language pathology to take Indigenous Cultural Safety training.
In 2018, Queen’s University’s family medicine residency program made online Aboriginal Relationship and Cultural Competency courses part of the mandatory curriculum.
With regards to nursing programs, Lakehead University in Ontario requires students to take a course on Indigenous issues and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing requires undergraduate students to take an Indigenous Health course.