Indigenous Health

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls have stressed the importance of closing significant gaps in health, wellness and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada. 

Culturally safe healthcare, informed by Indigenous Peoples, is a cornerstone of Reconciliation. Healthcare providers must be properly aware of the root causes of inequities in health and human rights in order to shift from our current status quo and address structural violence, exclusion and bias. 

DFCM is committed to a strategic vision in Reconciliation and is working on strategies to ensure our department is founded in a culture of anti-racism in which First Nations, Inuit and Metis learners, teachers and staff thrive. We also want to ensure our graduates and faculty are well prepared for careers grounded in advancing Reconciliation.

Led by Dr. Suzanne Shoush, Indigenous Health Faculty Lead, we are examining our practices and structures to better understand how we create anti-racist and anti-oppressive spaces for colleagues, learners and patients. This includes engaging the Indigenous community to propose and shape strategies, and working with the postgraduate education program to lead the development of a more comprehensive Indigenous health curriculum for learners. This requires collaboration with Elders, Traditional Knowledge Keepers and Indigenous Health Agencies. 

Learn more about the Indigenous Health Faculty Lead

Learn more about the Indigenous Health Partners Program or contact the Program Lead, Katie Johnson, here.

Indigenous Health: DFCM Research

Indigenous health research can be defined as any field or discipline related to health and/or wellness that is conducted by, grounded in, or engaged with, First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities, societies or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present.

Under the leadership of Dr. Janet Smylie, DFCM’s Indigenous Health Research Lead, DFCM faculty are leading the DFCM faculty are also leading the way in Indigenous health research.

Dr. Smylie is a Cree-Métis physician, Professor at the University of Toronto (DFCM and Dalla Lana School of Public Health), Research Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and Director of the Well Living House Action Research Centre for Indigenous Infant, Child, and Family Health and Wellbeing. 

Dr. Smylie’s research focuses on addressing Indigenous health inequities in partnership with Indigenous communities. She is particularly focused on ensuring all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples are counted into health policy and planning wherever they live in ways that make sense to them; addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health services; and advancing community-rooted innovations in health services for Indigenous populations. She maintains a part-time clinical practice at Seventh Generation Midwives Toronto and has practiced and taught family medicine in a variety of Indigenous communities both urban and rural. A Métis woman, Dr. Smylie acknowledges her family, traditional teachers, and ceremonial lodge.

Dr. Smylie was recently appointed a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Advancing Generative Health Services for Indigenous Populations in Canada; the first Indigenous person with ties to Canada to receive this award to date.