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Dr. Bernice Downey
Associate Dean, Indigenous Health

Message from the Associate Dean

Aanii- Seh-goh-Boozhoo-Tansi

On behalf of our team here in the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge, I would like to welcome everyone to the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) 2022-23 academic year! Last year was a year like no other with many challenges and changes in response to the global pandemic. It was also an important year for Indigenous health education within the FHS that began with structural enhancements including new Indigenous health leadership roles, a commitment to the ongoing work of our Indigenous Health Initiative and the funding of the Learning Lodge.

Message from the Executive Director


I hope that you all have had a restful summer break and that your minds are ready for a new semester back in the Faculty of Health Sciences. I too am returning from a break as I was away for the past academic year (returned May 29th) on a parental leave to start a new chapter in my life – as a mother. It was a time of learning and growing, and many sleepless nights but I am happy to be back to work here in the IHLL. Having a child has put a new lens on the urgency of our work. While working with my mind focused on the 7 generations has always been a part of my thought process, having a child has solidified my commitment to making the world a better place for Indigenous peoples. While our scope of practice is limited to the realm of Health – this area impacts all of us at some point in our lives. it is essential that everyone has access to culturally safe care. The lodge has continued to pursue this goal while I was away, by continuing relationships within and outside of the FHS. I look forward to seeing new faces and visiting with familiar ones as I re-orient myself to the FHS.


Alexandra Trottier
Executive Director Indigenous Health learning Lodge

Strategic Directions

  • To foster the development of culturally safe skills for non-Indigenous faculty, staff, and administrators through the implementation of formal cultural safety training.
  • To foster the development of a culturally safe learning environment for all Indigenous learners within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • To increase the number of Indigenous faculty members within the Faculty of Health Sciences and foster a culturally safe environment and experience for them.
  • To increase Indigenous cultural awareness among all faculty through the arts and experiential learning
  • To support new scholars engaged in Indigenous health research in collaboration with the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute.
  • To develop and sustain a reciprocal relationship with Indigenous communities at the regional, provincial, and national level by collaborating with clinical partners and other post-secondary institutions.
  • To support and sustain Elders’ and Knowledge Helpers’ work within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • To support Indigenous student recruitment and retention in the Faculty of Health Sciences
  • To develop a strong Indigenous presence within the Faculty of Health Sciences – at both structural and policy levels.
  • To achieve sustainability objectives related to the long-term operational goals of Indigenous Health in collaboration with local Indigenous communities.
  • To develop a centralized communication tool within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • To develop academic and financial support services for Indigenous students to enhance Indigenous student learning experiences within the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • To develop a positive and culturally safe environment where Indigenous students can achieve academic and social success, and mental health and well-being.
  • To improve and evaluate current services provided to Indigenous students.
  • To recognize and eliminate factors that limit Indigenous students from participating in learning and working opportunities.
  • To support Indigenous students explore education opportunities in Health Sciences
  • To develop research partnerships on campus and with Indigenous communities to advance Indigenous health research initiatives across the Faculty of Health Sciences.
  • To increase awareness, understanding, and capacity of both undergraduate and graduate students regarding Indigenous health research.
  • To foster innovative learning and research opportunities through national and international partnerships.
  • To develop an Indigenous knowledge and health research archive to educate students, staff, and faculty on Indigenous healing and wellness.
  • To develop and incorporate core Indigenous education curriculum into the existing Faculty of Health Science undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate curriculum.
  • To increase institutional capacity to educate students and faculty members about Indigenous health and well-being through experiential education opportunities.
  • To collaborate with the other programs to review and supplement the delivery of core Indigenous health education curriculum.
  • To influence reform among cross-professional regulatory bodies and health education stakeholders.
  • To foster an ongoing collaborative and supportive working relationship with our Go di we na wa she/Shkaabewis – Knowledge Helpers and their networks in the implementation of the FHS Indigenous health strategic plan
  • To co-create protocols, policies, and guidelines related to Indigenous ways of knowing that support and
    protect Knowledge Helpers, Elders, students, and community members.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Frequently Asked Questions

Development of the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge

In 2017 McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) started working collaboratively with multiple on/off campus partners to develop a comprehensive Indigenous Health Initiative (IHI) in order to better integrate Indigenous cultural knowledge into educational and research programs within the Faculty. The result of that process was the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge.

Development of the Indigenous Health Learning Lodge: Indigenous Health Initiative

History of the Indigenous Students Health Sciences (ISHS) Office

The former Indigenous Students Health Sciences (ISHS) office was solely dedicated to providing services and supports for the academic success and wellbeing of all First Nations, Inuit and Métis students in the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster. Examples of programming included Elders in residence, mentorship, graduate/professional development, student leadership, and community collaborations. ISHS also engaged with broader Indigenous communities and knowledge shared with non-Indigenous students, staff, faculty, and departments interested in Indigenous health.

History of the Indigenous Students Health Sciences (ISHS) Office: Mandate, Strategy and Goals