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 Declaration 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.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusDec. 31, 2020IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusNov. 9, 2020IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress?”

Oct. 5, 2020 – The Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) and Canadian Nurses Association have emphasized the need for a “mandatory” cultural competency and humility training program for health-care professions after the dearth of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old woman from the Atikamekw community of Manawan, Que.

Association of Faculties of Medicine is committed “to addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and putting the education and training about Indigenous persons’ health needs in Canada front and center. The AFMC Board of Directors has established an ad hoc Committee on Indigenous Health, which will advise the Board on strategic issues and it has also set up a new Network on Indigenous Health. The Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing have made “Reconciliation” commitments and member institutes have initiated programs.

Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada

Founded in 1943, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) represents Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine and is the voice of academic medicine in this country. Our member faculties graduate over 2,700 MDs per year; teach over 11,500 undergraduate medical students; train over 15,000 postgraduate trainees; employ nearly 48,000 full and part-time faculty members and undertake over 3 billion dollars of biomedical and health care research annually

AMC Joint Commitment on Indigenous Health

May 23, 2019First and foremost, we need to stop thinking of Indigenous health as an optional topic, left to the discretion and good will of the leadership of each school. We have an obligation to respond to the Calls to Action of the TRC, to honour and respect Indigenous peoples’ right to the highest attainable standard of health and self-determination. We must be training a medical workforce in Canada that can contribute meaningfully to closing the gaps in Indigenous health, through all of the CanMEDS roles and in each arena of physician work. In order to do this we have to be focused on achieving meaningful outcomes.

  • Theme 1: Social Accountability and Community Engagement
  • Theme 2: Infrastructure and Organizational Culture (Learning Environment)
  • Theme 3: Admissions
  • Theme 4: Curriculum Theme 5: Postgraduate Medical Education

Prioritized Statement and Related Theme

  1. Social Accountability and Community Engagement Medical schools respond to their social accountability with respect to Indigenous communities by jointly developing specific Indigenous health goals and reporting regularly on progress within the medical school and also to the Indigenous communities they serve.
  2. Infrastructure and Organizational Culture (Learning Environment) # 2 Medical schools dedicate sufficient resources to enable full implementation of Indigenous health goals. This includes, for example, appropriate resourcing of Knowledge Keepers, meaningful community partnerships, library and librarian services, and physical space
  3. Curriculum Medical schools commit to the development and implementation of a longitudinal Indigenous health course with anti-racism as the core pedagogical approach
  4. Infrastructure and Organizational Culture (Learning Environment) Medical schools invest in the development of a critical mass of Indigenous Faculty and Staff with the appropriate supportive infrastructure to lead all aspects of Indigenous medical education including admissions, student recruitment and retention, curriculum development and implementation, and with structured presence on key decision-making committees within the medical school
  5. Infrastructure and Organizational Culture (Learning Environment) Medical schools commit to developing a safe work and learning environment for Indigenous learners, faculty and staff by supporting leadership and faculty change through focused and strategic professional development activities based in anti-racism, cultural safety and decolonization. This will include a specific focus on clinical preceptors across all clinical learning sites.
  6. Social Accountability and Community Engagement Medical schools focus on the development of meaningful relationships with the Indigenous communities that they serve using rights-based approaches to the co-creation of the terms of the relationship. Indigenous communities are recognized as expert resources for the medical school and are provided with the opportunity and resources needed to participate in all aspects of the admissions process, teaching, hosting learners, research and scholarship, and faculty development.
  7. Infrastructure and Organizational Culture (Learning Environment) Medical schools have robust policies and processes for identifying and addressing anti-Indigenous racism/ sentiment experienced by Indigenous learners, staff and faculty in classroom and clinical environments. This includes institutional measures of the effectiveness of the policy that are regularly reported on.
  8. Postgraduate Medical Education Medical schools commit to the development of Postgraduate Medical Education curriculum and associated tools in Indigenous health with a core focus on cultural safety and anti-racism. This builds on the undergraduate curriculum in Indigenous health and prepares physicians for anti-racist, culturally safe independent practice
  9. Admissions Medical schools will work towards admitting a minimum number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students each year by employing distinctions-based approaches and practicing holistic file reviews. Robust data collection with appropriate data stewardship agreements will allow for review of progress towards goals at the individual school, provincial and national level.
  10. Admissions Medical schools will add a prerequisite for consideration of admission for all candidates in Indigenous studies, cultural safety, anti-racism or related discipline.
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons

June 6, 2018 – The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada will soon require all residency programs to provide Indigenous health and cultural safety training. Few programs are prepared or know what that training should include, according to medical educators at the recent Indigenous Health Conference in Toronto.

Indigenous people often face racism and ignorance in health care and medical education. “The health statistics for Indigenous people are horrendous, and it’s the result of discrimination and neglect over hundreds of years of colonization,” said Dr. Anna Banerji, director of global and Indigenous health for continuing professional development at the University of Toronto. “The path to reconciliation will not be an easy one and many non-Indigenous people are afraid of making mistakes. Instead of fearing, let’s embrace it.”

British Columbia has led the way, introducing cultural safety training for health workers to help them better understand Indigenous culture and provide more sensitive care. Other provinces are following suit, but medical education has been slower on the uptake. Most trainees have “zero” awareness of the history and health impacts of colonization, let alone their own harmful biases, said Dr. Jason Pennington, an assistant professor of general surgery at the University of Toronto. As for faculty, “sometimes they’re actually even worse than zero.”

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing

Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing is the national voice for nursing education, research, and scholarship and represents baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in Canada.

Strategic Plan 2019 – 2023

One of their 5 core objectives is: Advance leading practices, equity, and the national response to the TRC Calls to Action in nursing education and scholarship.


  • Facilitate evidence-based teaching and learning.
  • Utilize an equity lens to support culturally safe, responsive and accessible nursing education.
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is not the lead on a response for Call to Action 24.