In Canada, less than 1% of physicians identify as Indigenous, and yet Indigenous peoples make up 4.9% (and growing) of the population in Canada. Financial barriers can put an end to the dreams of many students hoping to attend university, especially medical school.
In December 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada released its final report that highlighted some of the disparities in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, including an infant mortality rate ranging from 1.7 to over 4 times the non-Indigenous average and a diabetes rate nearly twice as high among Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous aged 45 and older. The TRC also called for an increase in the number of Indigenous healthcare workers in Canada.
Indigenous physicians best understand the lived reality of their Indigenous patients and provide care in a culturally safe setting.
In 2021 the Canadian Medical Foundation partnered with Indspire, a national Indigenous registered charity that invests in the education of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people, to establish a bursary for Indigenous medical students, no matter which Canadian medical school they are attending.
The social determinants of health (socioeconomic factors, geography, and education among others) leading to the poor health outcomes of so many Indigenous peoples are numerous and complicated by politics, racism, and distrust. Many barriers to health equity may seem complicated and insurmountable, but the importance of education and increasing the number of Indigenous physicians is a clear solution to some of the challenges Indigenous peoples face.
For Indigenous students, who are often the first in their family to attend university, information on financial support across multiple locations is overwhelming and often difficult to navigate. Our partner, Indspire, makes the application and selection process easy and provides other support to students, such as mentorship programs.
To partner with CMF in supporting this important program, please consider a donation today.