The Agora Circle was host to presentations from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) as well as from numerous individual researchers during Lakehead’s 2012 Aboriginal Research Day on Feb. 13.
NOSM provided a brief summary of the role of its Aboriginal Affairs Unit. At the earliest stages of the organization’s development, NOSM said, it strived to take into account the cultural diversity of the region it serves. Consequently, it established an Aboriginal Affairs Unit.
The unit’s mandate was to “identify and implement new initiatives in support of the school’s commitment to aboriginal communities.” These initiatives include “advising the School’s senior leadership, committees, and working groups; ensuring meaningful collaboration with Aboriginal communities; assisting in the recruitment of aboriginal students; and recruiting host communities for medical learners.”
At NOSM, “Recruitment is always in the forefront for our unit, but I think the most unique thing about the med school is that all first year students must do a four week cultural placement in a remote First Nation. That’s unique in the world. No one else does that,” says Christine Jones, an Aboriginal support worker.
According to Jones, NOSM is currently partnered with a medical school in Australia, who will soon be the second school to implement such a program.
Dr. Lolehawk Laura Buker of the Faculty of Aboriginal Education offered a presentation on her research project for 2012 entitled “In a New Meeting Place: Ihima Oshki Maawajihidowinik.”
According to Dr. Buker, the objective of the project is to bring mapping literacy, GIS skills, spatial data, traditional indigenous science, and digital technologies into a learning environment.
Dr. Buker expressed that she was pleased to be at the event on Monday, adding that “today we are celebrating all kinds of Aboriginal, Metis, and Inuit research here at Lakehead University. It’s wonderful to get that opportunity to come together and see what other researchers are doing.”
Dr. Buker is currently working on a project to build a new aboriginal teacher education program.
“[The project is] in its fourth year and we are building capacity, especially with our northern teachers. Our North, our classrooms, and our children need models and they need teachers from this area who are professional, well-trained, and have a really good foundation in stories, in the language, and in the traditional knowledge that doesn’t often find its way into the traditional curriculum,” Dr. Buker said.