Celebrating Indigenous strength in medicine

On May 24, ten UBC Indigenous medical students gathered to celebrate their graduation from medical school at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine during an event where family, friends, faculty, staff and members of the Indigenous community gathered together to honour and share in the joy of their achievements.

This year’s graduates are joining a strong community of more than 120 UBC Indigenous medical alumni who have also graduated as part of the Faculty of Medicine’s Indigenous MD Admissions pathway and who are now serving the health care needs of families and communities across British Columbia (B.C.) and beyond.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this fall, the Indigenous MD Admissions pathway continues to serve a pivotal role in encouraging, attracting and creating new opportunities for more Indigenous students to study medicine, while supporting them on their journey to becoming doctors.

The ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. with Dr. Eduardo Jovel, the Interim Director of the First Nations House of Learning, who led the procession of graduates to the front of the room while performing an honouring song.

Elder Doris Fox welcomed graduates, their families and loved ones to her home – the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam People.

Dr. Eduardo Jovel, Interim Director, First Nations House of Learning, spoke to the future leadership of this year’s graduates.

“It is essential to recognize and acknowledge that the land is medicine, your culture is medicine, your language is medicine, and humour is medicine.”
Dr. Eduardo Jovel
Interim Director, First Nations House of Learning

Dr. Nel Wieman, President, Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada

Dr. Roger Wong, Vice Dean, Education, UBC Faculty of Medicine

Dr. Nel Wieman, President of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada provided the graduates with words of wisdom and inspiration. Dr. Roger Wong, Vice Dean of Education with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, congratulated the graduates and reflected on the successes of the Indigenous MD Admissions pathway.

“You are now part of a growing community of Indigenous doctors who are transforming health and wellness for people in B.C. and across Canada,” said Dr. Wong. “Which is helping to improve health systems so that they are culturally safe, accessible and more inclusive.”

“You are more than good enough. You are an Indigenous physician and that allows you to bring your unique gifts to your practice.”
Dr. Nel Weiman
President, Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada

Dr. Michael Dumont, Medical Director of Lu’ma Medical Centre and UBC MD alumnus, shared a powerful story about his journey into medicine and his inspiration in becoming a family doctor to provide culturally safe care for Indigenous Peoples and families in Vancouver and the surrounding area. During his address, he encouraged graduates to remember and connect with what first inspired them to embark on this journey which has led them to this special day – becoming graduates, doctors and agents of change.

On behalf of their classmates, Dr. Keegan Marchand, a graduate from the Vancouver Fraser Medical Program and member of the Syilx Okanagan Nation and Dr. Georgia Vermette, a graduate from the Island Medical Program and member of the Métis Nation, expressed their gratitude for the support they and their fellow graduates received from family, friends, faculty and staff.

James Andrew, Indigenous Student Initiatives Manager, congratulated each graduate while offering them a gift to commemorate the special day.

After the ceremony, the graduates gathered outside with Dr. Jovel, Elder Doris Fox, Dr. Wong, Dr. Dumont and James Andrew to celebrate, while family and friends watched and snapped photos to capture memories of the event. New graduate, Dr. Georgia Vermette celebrated with Elder Dr. Roberta Price.

Next month, the graduates will begin the next chapter of their journey, training in areas such as family medicine, neurosurgery, internal medicine, dermatology, emergency medicine and more.

“This is an accomplishment for all of us,” said Dr. Vermette. “It’s also an accomplishment for our families and our communities and it will be felt for generations.”

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Published: May 26, 2022