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It has been too long. I have missed writing to you all! I took a break from blogging while I was campaigning in my university elections- an intense 12 day period. I am thrilled to announce that the break paid off and I have been elected the first Anishinabeg Vice President Internal for Dalhousie University’s Student Union! Thank you for staying tuned and I am happy to share that I am back in action and have lots to write about!
This was my first time campaigning, and holy guacamole did I ever learn lots! For 12 days I was traveling across the various Dalhousie campuses engaging with and learning from Dalhousie students. Since I have been working for the university in student engagement the past few years, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the inspiring initiatives students were doing on and off of campus, but after talking to thousands of students I learnt a whole whack more!
A Group you Need to Know About: The Indigenous Health Interest Group!
I had heard of the Indigenous Health Interest Group through a dear friend of mine. Her passion about this group alongside my desire to learn more about Indigenous Health inspired me to learn more about this group. The Indigenous Health Interest Group (IHIG) is a group composed of both Indigenous and non-indigenous students in health-related programs at Dalhousie University making Indigenous health a priority in Atlantic Canada! These folks are motivated to reduce Indigenous health inequities through education, empowerment, advocacy and research. Involvement with IHIG provides non-Indigenous folks with the opportunity to become better informed on Indigenous cultures and health issues. IHIG is driven to develop culturally competent health practitioners and researchers- a necessity in the health care system today.
Through IHIG’s three pillars of action: research, education, and events, this group of committed students help to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) calls to action both on and off campus.
IHIG has produced three major contributions to research involving Indigenous Health and Wellness.
One: In 2016-2017 IHIG conducted numerous qualitative interviews with professors and staff in Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, Social Work and Pharmacy. The interviews were used to investigate if professors and staff felt that the content included in current curricula prepared students to deliver culturally competent health care in their fields. The data is currently being analyzed for publication. The lack of substance in current curricula to prepare future health care practitioners to deliver culturally competent health care is being used to design a mandatory Indigenous Health and Wellness module for all first year Nursing, Medicine and Dentistry courses. This research is being presented at conferences across Canada.
Two: Through IHIG, Dalhousie University is the first institution to publish an update since the TRC recommendations came out, with specific calls to action relating to medical school policies. In April, this document will be an available resource for all Canadian medical schools. This document will include all admission information for future Indigenous med school applicants.
Three: In 2017 IHIG created the Mental Health Resource Guide, a tool developed to highlight resources that can be used in replacement of traditional Western approaches to mental health. The guide includes resources specific to Indigenous peoples, African Nova Scotians, refugees, and the LGBTTQQI+ folks.
Co-President of IHIG, Maya Biderman, described education as the most important pillar of the Indigenous Health Interest Group. IHIG has collaborated with Indigenous students to create an introductory presentation on the health and history of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Beyond the delivery of this presentation to Health Profession students at Dalhousie from the 1000-level to 3000-level, IHIG have tailored and presented this lecture to high school students in rural New Brunswick and will present to high school students in Antigonish this May. IHIG offers to come into classes across Dalhousie as guest lecturers to present this presentation.
IHIG members offer support to professions wishing to improve their knowledge base surrounding Indigenous health and well-being. This project resulted in a full year independent study for the co-president, Maya, making curriculum recommendations for the Kinesiology program. These curriculum changes stemming from the consultation with current Indigenous students, current non-Indigenous students, graduate Indigenous students, Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, the IHIG curriculum branch, focus groups, the Indigenous Student Centre and DISC, have been accepted as a paper and presentation to the International Federation of National Teaching Fellows Conference.
In addition to these projects, IHIG supports the creation of the new Indigenous Health Course for Medicine, Nursing, and Dentistry. This course includes filmed keynote videos highlighting Indigenous researchers, and groups on campus. And that’s not all! IHIG was used as a resource to provide cultural competency training for the admissions officers at the Dalhousie Medical School before their admissions interview weekend. Just when you thought that was all of IHIG’s work, it’s members managed to create a wonderful, user-friendly website that provides access to their resources!
IHIG have hosted lunch and learn events for the school of Health and the Eagle Kitpu Wise Camp. IHIG is currently working with the Indigenous Medical School team to present a Lecture Series next fall. This series will bring Indigenous physicians, healers, and elders to Dalhousie to hold panel discussions and presentations for students.
Want to Get Involved?
If you are like me and want to get involved with IHIG, these students meet once a month to inform the group at large about upcoming events and projects. At this meeting, a mini lecture from an Indigenous community member is given to teach the group about various Indigenous historical traditions, culture, and news today.
"Don’t really remember when I started with IHIG. I started to follow them around my second year, and got more involved into my third and fourth, taking on more of an advisory role. Currently, I give mini lectures at their monthly meetings on topics surrounding Indigenous health, and usually my own personal research. I really like IHIG because they go beyond being an “interest” society. They engage with Indigenous profs in your university and have done amazing in expanding their outreach beyond the Dalhousie community. The initiative and research they’ve undertaken has and will have significant impacts in our university. Their presence is definitely an added benefit to the Indigenous community in our attempts to address Indigenous issues on campus.” – Aaron Prosper, BSc, 4th year Neuroscience
"Getting involved in IHIG is an amazing opportunity to educate yourself on Indigenous Issues. It is surprising how much there is to learn and how much individuals seek out your knowledge when you become involved in this amazing group. My favourite moment this year has been going into my school to inspire students to get involved in IHIG and ways to educate themselves on Indigenous Issues.” – Adrianna Broussard, BSc, 1st year Diagnostic Ultrasound
Need Another Reason to Get Involved? Check out some other great IHIG Projects:
Indigenous Art Commissions
Support local artists interested in creating art inspired by Indigenous cultures, languages, traditions, and history. Art is used for a variety of purposes: report covers, posters, banners, and conference, website, and promotional material.
Dr. Nadine Caron
Brought Dr. Nadine Caron to deliver a key note to community members, health providers, and students in Halifax. First female Indigenous surgeon in Canada.
Other Projects/ Accomplishments:
Crossroads Interdisciplinary Conference, Worlds Together Panel Discussion, Cindy Blackstock and Philippa Pictou.
I challenge you all to check out IHIG’s website, social media pages, and resources! I have included the link to the wesbite here: https://nicole-doria.squarespace.com All you have to do is click and read!
Happy Friday my lovelies,