Guest blog by Dr. Janet Tootoosis, interim vice-dean Indigenous health
On January 25, CoM Faculty Council approved the proposal to establish a new Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness (DIHW). The proposal received strong support, endorsing the direction proposed to best support Indigenous health and wellness and validating the efforts of so many people involved in the consultation for and development of the proposal. Most importantly, it demonstrates a high level of support for improving Indigenous health and wellness with increased structures and resources in our college.
Our faculty have said they agree that we need to be a bigger, more effective part of real change for Indigenous people.
As noted in the Faculty Council decision request, “The creation of the Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness directly supports the vision and mission articulated in the College of Medicine’s Strategic Plan 2017-2022 and Renewal 2025. The proposed Indigenous-led department has an exceptionally high degree of linkages to institutional plans and strategies including: the University Plan 2025; ohpahotân I oohpaahotaan – The Indigenous Strategy; the USask Strategic Research Plan and the USask Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Plan.”
With this strongly supported mandate from our college to move forward with the proposal, our planned next steps and timeline for full approval of the proposal are for it to go to the Academic Priorities Committee in February, the Planning and Priorities Committee at the start of March, then to University Council as a notice of motion in March. We hope to have it before the Board of Governors followed by requests for decision at each of University Council and University Senate in April. As these approval stages progress, we will provide updates to the college through the weekly CoM E-News, this blog, and other channels.
I am grateful for the many messages of support during this process and since I started in the vice-dean role last June, and the congratulations and expressions of happiness received following the CoM Faculty Council vote last week. It means a great deal to have our colleagues look at what we hope to achieve and provide such overwhelming support!
As outlined in the proposal, “through the academic, scholarly, and administrative work of the department, along with a foundational and enduring commitment to authentic community engagement, the goals of this Indigenous-led department will be to meaningfully address:
- existing health inequities
- the scarcity of strength-based Indigenous health research
- knowledge translation in community; and
- systemic racism in the health system and health education system.”
The DIHW proposal is available on our CoM Faculty Council website.
Now we focus on these next approval stages and getting to a place where we are moving forward on infrastructure and resources to deliver on our commitment to Indigenous people in Saskatchewan and to our stated vision and mission and social accountability mandate as Saskatchewan’s only medical school.