Core Component Description

The goal of the core component of the Aboriginal health program is to familiarize the resident with the historical and cultural context of Aboriginal Canadian life experiences both in readings, and in different clinical and cultural settings. This section of the program will normally occupy the resident for the first six months of the year (i.e. July to December), though flexibility is possible. The resident's time will be equally divided between clinical work, readings, mental health work, and public health/health promotion. Each of these areas are deemed to be important, and hence the resident's time will be protected for them.

Directed Reading Course - Horizontal learning (throughout the year) Dr. Michael Green is the program co-ordinator and a recognized expert on aboriginal health. He practiced full time in the Moose Factory area for 8 years, 4 of those as Chief of Staff. Following completion of his MPH at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and his move to Queen's University he began a part time consulting position as a Zone Medical Officer (Public Health) for the Ontario Region of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. He represents the University regularly at forums on aboriginal health issues, provides lectures in Aboriginal Health at the undergraduate(MD program) and graduate levels(Masters Program) at Queen's and is involved in research in this field. He will offer the residents a reading course throughout the program. One or two half days per week will be set aside for the residents to partake in this coursework regardless of their rotation. Depending on the residents' previous experience, and their interest, the course will cover such topics as:

    • Basic overview of historical factors relevant to Aboriginal issues including the French Regime, the fur trade era (contact through to the reservation period), and the disparate groups and their territorial locations throughout Canada and the North.
    • An outline history of Canada's policy towards First Nations and other Aboriginal groups.
    • Treaties and reserves.
    • Contemporary disputes.
    • Demographic and medical issues; past and present.
    • Specific regional issues.
    • Other opportunities for didactic studies in Aboriginal issues include courses offered at the University of Toronto, the Native Studies program at Trent University, Peterborough, and the American Indian Health Course at John's Hopkins (offered distance ed via the internet as well as on site) 2. Rural and/or remote On-Reserve Experience: Queen's University Weeneebayko Program, Wikwimekong, Manitoulin Island and/or others Queen's University has a well-established program to deliver health care services to Aboriginal Canadians living in Moose Factory and along the west coast of James Bay. This relationship is longstanding (almost 40 years in 2005) and has afforded many opportunities for Queen's students from health disciplines to develop a greater understanding of issues affecting Aboriginal people in the north. The major objectives of this rotation are to introduce the resident to the broad determinants of health for people living on isolated reserves and how these impact on their health care, in addition to the practice of medicine in a cross-cultural context, as part of a multi-disciplinary team. The resident will be involved in health care delivery at the main hospital and in outlying communities, and be expected to assist in the public health work done in the Zone. In addition to their clinical work, residents are encouraged to partake in a community-based research project (i.e. of interest and use to the community) for this region, and may choose to begin their work during this visit. Aboriginal leaders have suggested that the residents visit the Zone during hunting season (fall and spring) in order to experience this important tradition with the people. Moose Factory is the most obvious site for this northern experience because of the well-established link with Queen's University, however, other locations can be arranged if desired (e.g. Sioux Lookout Zone). Wikwemikong Reserve, Manitoulin Island: This rotation has been chosen as being appropriate for the residents because it provides the opportunity to live on a reserve in the "near north", and integrate as best they can into a community that is very likely different from their past experience. While in the community they will participate in the work of the mental health office and its community development projects. They will also assist in the medical clinics, and take call on a limited basis. They will have the opportunity to meet the medicine man and elders in the community and thus can learn from them some of the local traditions and customs.
    • Urban Aboriginal Health All residents, regardless of their eventual choice of practice, need to be aware of the issues faced by Aboriginal people who leave their reserves to live in larger urban centres, or who have grown up in the city. In Toronto there are a number of services for Aboriginals in which the resident can participate. Anishnawbe Health offers clinics both in their centre, and at other more accessible locations for particular groups. The resident may be involved in these as well as Anishnawbe's work with street people. In addition, the resident may spend some time at the Community Crisis Centre (with Aboriginal counsellors as well as the non-Aboriginal psychologist), and the healing circles at the Native Women's Resource Centre. There are similar opportunities in Ottawa (Wabano Aboriginal Health Centre), and Sudbury and Timmins offer options for mid-small size urban areas as alternatives.
    • Aboriginal Public Health Population and public health issues for aboriginal populations in Canada are of particular importance. Each resident will have an opportunity to spend time working with one or more Medical Officers working with First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Depending on the resident's individual interests or needs this could be done with the program coordinator Dr Green, at the Regional Headquarters for FNIHB Ontario Region or with the Office of Community Medicine at FNIHB's National Headquarters in Ottawa. NOTE: It is recognized that two months in any single community is hardly sufficient time to develop a genuine appreciation of the community's spirit, concerns, conflicts, etc. Residents may wish to enhance their continuity of care, continuity of research, continuity of development processes, etc. by spending four or six months in one setting, either in a single block or by return visits to the same community. This may be most readily accomplished in the Moose Factory/ James Bay area.