Canadian Federation of
Medical Students
About the CFMS
The CFMS is an organization representing over 8,000 medical students from 15 Canadian medical student societies from coast to coast. We represent medical students to the public, to the federal government, and to national and international medical organizations.
Canadian Federation of Medical Students Statement in response to the resignation of Santanna Hernandez, National Officer of Indigenous Health
January 14, 2021

The CFMS is regretful and apologetic for the harm caused to and experienced by Santanna Hernandez and Yotakahron Jonathan while involved with our organization. We continue to be very concerned about the circumstances surrounding their resignations. One of the CFMS’ core values is equity and as the representative organization of over 8,300 medical students across Canada, we strive to create an environment that is free of discrimination at all levels of the organization in upholding the values of the medical profession. We recognize mistakes made in our initial response to Yotakahron’s resignation and the need to act more expediently to decolonize the organization. While we hoped to avoid causing additional harm in our response by taking measured and deliberate steps, we should have engaged Indigenous students and faculty earlier, knowing that we were not equipped to address the situation adequately.

Since Yotakahron’s resignation, we have been working to engage an independent, third-party Indigenous consultant to conduct a trauma-informed, culturally safe investigation so that we can seriously and appropriately address the concerns that were raised. A consultant has now been hired and the investigation will start immediately, encompassing the experiences of both Santanna and Yotakahron. This is in line with our Anti-Violence, Harassment & Discrimination Policy and a report will be released to our membership upon completion of the investigation to ensure accountability. We expect the report will include recommendations for the organization as well as the individuals involved.

We recognize the pervasiveness of structural racism within the medical community and are committed to advancing anti-racism efforts as well as equity, diversity, and inclusivity to decolonize the CFMS. We must ensure that all students, particularly those who are underrepresented, feel safe and able to engage with the CFMS. Our organization started a Task Force on equity, diversity and inclusivity in the Fall of 2019 and passed comprehensive recommendations in September of 2020.  We have been developing implementation plans to advance equity, diversity and inclusivity at all levels of the organization. Clearly, there is more work to be done and we take this shortcoming seriously.  We recognize the need to educate ourselves and have been working to arrange Indigenous Cultural Safety training through San’yas following the approval of a Board motion in November. This training has been mandated for all Board members and started this past week. Additionally, we have allocated increased financial resources within the organization to support Indigenous health and Indigenous students. We have continued to engage experts in Indigenous health and equity, diversity, and inclusivity from the medical education community and will be releasing an additional update on our work on January 20th. Moving forward, we will create a page on our website with regular updates on our work to ensure transparency for all members.

We will walk forward honestly, unlearn and educate ourselves so that we may co-create safe spaces in partnership with those with lived experiences, in the spirit of reconciliation. We are open to any and all feedback from members of the CFMS and the larger community to support our efforts.

As President, I am committed to a journey of continuous learning and reflection and will drive this work forward to ensure that all medical students feel safe in the CFMS.

Humbly and sincerely,

Henry Li
CFMS President 2020-2021

For further information, please contact: Henry Li, CFMS President, at [email protected]

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