The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) of McMaster University strives to respond to the significant health disparities that exist between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians. The Faculty is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive, ‘whole-of-Faculty’ Indigenous health initiative that reflects the principles and values of a reconciliation based approach as documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The creation of the Indigenous Health Initiative, the creation of the role of the Faculty’s associate dean of Indigenous Health, approval of the Initiative’s strategic plan and the opening of the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge (IHLL) are first steps toward the Faculty of Health Sciences’ commitment to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Besides incorporating Indigenous education into the curriculum of existing Faculty programs, the strategic plan calls for reform among cross-professional regulatory bodies and health education stakeholders, growing the number of Indigenous faculty members, as well as supporting Indigenous ways of knowing.
The lodge, opened in early 2022, is located in the Michael G. DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery. The lodge has two Indigenous names: the Haudenosaunee name is Tsi nón:we ayakonniyóhake táhnon aonsayakota'karitehake, which means ‘The place of good life and return to health’. The Anishinaabe name is Mino Bimaadiziwin Mishkiki Aapjishnik Gamik’ which may be translated to the concepts of the good life; medicine recovery/healing lodge. The lodge serves as a hub for training and curriculum development, a safe place with access to Traditional Knowledge Keepers, a student lounge for Indigenous learners to study and socialize, and an inclusive place for non-Indigenous students to learn more about colonization and reconciliation.
The work there will include advocating and increasing awareness regarding human rights, anti-racism, and cultural safety concerning Indigenous health and well-being and will highlight important days such as National Indigenous Day and Orange Shirt Day, which is in memory of the many Indigenous children who died in residential schools.
The Faculty is working towards creating a culturally safe and humble environment to enable sustainable systems change to advance the work and concepts of truth, reconciliation and anti-colonization with all aspects of Indigenous health and well-being.