About the CFMSThe 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.
Content Warning: This post is intended to remind non-Indigenous members about the importance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation; however, we recognize that this is a challenging day for many Indigenous individuals and have provided links to resources for Indigenous members. To see these resources without viewing the rest of this page, click here.
The Canadian Federation of Medical Students recognizes the importance and solemnity of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. CFMS hopes that Indigenous CFMS members are able to have space and time for themselves and their communities today, and encourages our non-Indigenous members to take time for learning and reflection.
The history of medicine and scientific research in the place we currently call Canada carries a legacy of racism and harm towards the Indigenous peoples who have inhabited this land for generations. Furthermore, both medical training and the health care system remain environments in which anti-Indigenous racism and microaggressions are frequently perpetuated, and which are often unsafe for Indigenous colleagues and patients.
As an organization, CFMS commits to an ongoing process of learning and unlearning, and to continual efforts towards decolonization within our organization. We aim to continue to evolve in ways that allow us to better serve Indigenous medical student members of our organization, and to support medical trainees in becoming physicians who practice through an anti-racist lens, in a manner that supports the autonomy and holistic wellbeing of the Indigenous patients whom we have the privilege to serve.
We are grateful, as individual medical students and as a collective, to our Indigenous colleagues for their wisdom and presence within medical schools and hospitals across the country, and to the Indigenous patients we have cared for, for allowing us to be a part of their health care journey. We also acknowledge that the formal and informal work that Indigenous colleagues, patients, and caregivers do in relation to advocacy for their communities, anti-racism, and Indigenization of spaces is labour-intensive in terms of emotion, time, and effort, and that while it may be given, it is never an obligation and should never be an expectation.
We encourage any CFMS member or affiliated individual to reach out to us at any time if they would like to share concerns or engage around ways in which we as an organization can better support Indigenous medical trainees or patients, and function in a way that aligns with decolonial and anti-racist principles.
RESOURCES FOR LEARNING AND ACTION
For CFMS members seeking additional resources to learn about Truth and Reconciliation, please explore the following resources:
1) National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Web Page: Government of Canada website with information about the NDTR and links to learning resources and supports.
Web Page: www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/national-day-truth-reconciliation.html.
2) Orange Shirt Day Foundation: Orange Shirt Day is a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School (1891-1981) Commemoration Project and Reunion, which occurred in Williams Lake, BC in May 2013. The project was the vision of Esketemc (Alkali Lake) Chief Fred Robbins, who is himself a residential school survivor. The project brought together former students and their families from the Secwepemc,Tsilhqot’in, Southern Dakelh and St’at’imc Nations, along with the Cariboo Regional District, the municipalities and mayors, school districts, and civic organizations in the Cariboo Region.
3) Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action: The 94 Calls to Action from the TRC, including items 18-24, which fall under “Health”, and some of which specifically apply to medical training.
4) National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR): The NCTR is a steward for the experiences, photos, and memories entrusted to them by residential school survivors, continues the research begun by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and promotes public education and understanding of residential schools. Its website host educational and other resources, archives, and a national memorial register of children who died while attending a residential school. Ceremony and work with traditional knowledge keepers is part of all of the work done by the NCTR.
TRC Reports Web Page: https://nctr.ca/records/reports/.
RESOURCES FOR INDIGENOUS INDIVIDUALS
For Indigenous CFMS members for whom today may bring up various emotions and memories, we hope that the following resources may be useful:
1) Hope for Wellness Helpline: Support via telephone or online chat, from culturally competent counsellors, available 24/7 to all Indigenous individuals within Canada. Chat is available in English and French 24/7, and by request in Cree, Ojibway (Anishinaabemowin), and Inuktitut. Free and confidential service. Operated by Donna Cona, an Indigenous organization; funded by the Government of Canada.
2) National Indian Residential School Crisis Line: Support via telephone, 24/7, for residential school survivors and their families. Toll-free.
Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
3) MMIWG Crisis Line: Support via telephone for anyone impacted by the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Toll-free.
Crisis Line: 1-844-413-6649.