First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health

Dr. Catherine L. Cook, MD, MSc., CCFP, FCFP
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health

Dr. Catherine Cook received her medical education at the University of Manitoba (1987), certified in Family Medicine in 1989, with a MSc. through the Department of Community Health Sciences, in 2003.

Dr. Cook has a joint role with the University of Manitoba as the Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority as Vice-President of Population and Aboriginal Health. She is engaged at the University of Manitoba, Max Rady College of Medicine in the areas of teaching, student supports and research.

In July 2009, she was appointed by the Province of Manitoba as the Aboriginal Health Advisor on H1N1 issues for Manitoba – to work with First Nations communities, leadership organizations and the federal government to further strengthen communication, coordination and response to H1N1 influenza. Dr. Cook practiced as a family physician in remote northern nursing stations for several years before focusing on public health practice. She has held positions of Associate Director of the J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit, Regional Director of Health Programs for First Nations and Inuit Health, Manitoba Region, Regional Medical Officer of Health for the Nor-Man and Winnipeg Regional Health Authorities, Director of the Center for Aboriginal Health Education and Co-Director of the Manitoba First Nations Center for Aboriginal Health Research and Co-Chair of the ‘Changes for Children’ Implementation Team – a process for systemic change within the Child Welfare system in Manitoba stemming from the AJI-CWI Initiative and a series of reviews of the child welfare system. Dr. Cook is on several national boards and committees, and has actively engaged in board and committee membership throughout her career.

Strategies for addressing health issues with First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples:
By Dr. Catherine L. Cook, Associate Dean, First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health

When asked why First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health is a priority for the Max Rady College of Medicine one has only to reflect on the historical and contemporary issues in health service delivery and health issues for our Indigenous Peoples.  Those issues that have resulted in a health care system that is challenged by inequities in access to education and to health services, by a recognition that the Indigenous Peoples of Canada are challenged by a health status that is not at the same level as other Canadians, and the recognition that as a College responsible for training our health care providers, we have a social responsibility to ensure that our medical learners have an awareness of those issues and the actions to address those issues that will make a difference. 

The relevance of culture and equity in health service delivery are important determinants in the provision of quality care and patient safety within our health system, and as physicians,  we have an ability to make a difference in those areas for Indigenous Peoples. 

A priority for the College, through the efforts of the Department of Community Health Sciences, Section of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health, is to take a leadership role in partnering with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities to achieve the vision of contributing to optimal health and well-being of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples in the context of Indigenous self-determination. (Strategic Framework for Section of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health - link pending)

Community engagement is a key strategic direction for the university that is in keeping with the expectations of Indigenous communities and a strategic direction for the Section.  It will focus on building meaningful partnerships and relationships for community level engagement in the planning for health services, for education and training and for research activity.  Faculty and community engagement activities will highlight opportunities for professional services, education and training, and research services that raise awareness of the priorities for Indigenous communities. 

Through curriculum development of a longitudinal program in Indigenous Health, through education and training with faculty and staff that promotes awareness of health issues relevant to Indigenous Peoples, and through the development of student programs and supports that recognize the challenges that may be faced by Indigenous People seeking a degree in medicine; the Faculty will reflect an awareness of those issues that will make a difference in establishing equitable opportunities for Indigenous Peoples, and will establish an environment that recognizes and respects the diversity of the Indigenous community

Cultural Safety and Cultural Competency in Health Care - Relevance for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples and for the Max Rady College of Medicine:
The literature clearly identifies the need for an awareness and understanding of cultural influences on health care delivery and ultimately, the health status of individuals.  A joint project between the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) and the Association of Faculties of Medicine (AFMC) developed the Core Competencies in Indigenous Health to guide the education and training of medical learners with specific training modules for Family Medicine, Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology.  This series of training modules provides key strategies for education of medical learners and future physicians on issues that are relevant for Indigenous Peoples. 

As physicians, we strive to provide high quality health care and focus on ensuring the safety of our patients.  In providing health services for Indigenous Peoples, recognizing the need for cultural safety (an acknowledgement and recognition of the imbalance of power between the physician and the patient in decision making about our health care decisions) is a critical first step in recognizing the cultural differences between the Indigenous community and the medical community.

Striving for cultural competency as medical practitioners in health service provision provides a recognition that the cultural norms, traditional values and principles of engagement for Indigenous Peoples are important when entering into a patient / physician relationship.  The principles of relationship building, cultural relevance, collaboration, holism, mutual understandings, cultural safety, meaningful engagement, trust, respect, and good communication are principles that Indigenous Peoples, and all health care professionals recognize as important in providing optimal care.  They are also principles that are critical in building sustainable systems that will provide optimal care for Indigenous Peoples, and for all of our patients, regardless of culture or ethnicity.

A Culturally Competent Healthcare System - A Systematic Review by Laurie M. Anderson, PHD, MPH, Susan C. Scrimshaw, PhD, Mindy T. Fullilove, MD, Jonathan E. Fielding, MD,MPH, MBA, Jacques Normand, PhD, and hte Task Force on community Preventive Services (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2003;24(3S))

Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada

Core Competencies in Indigenous Health

Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada 

Strategic Framework for the Section of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health (link pending)

Published Reports

Framework for Research Engagement with First Nation, Metis and Inuit Peoples

Towards the Development of a Framework for Research Engagement with Frist Nations, Metis and Inuit Communities - Planning Session Summary Report - March 8, 2013

Primary Health Care Report 


 Indigenous Health Lecture Series
The Lecture Series on Indigenous Health seeks to raise awareness of those historical and contemporary issues in Indigenous Health.  Please note video links for recorded lectures are available on-line for a period of three months following the presentation.  Lecture materials after this period are available through the circulation desk at Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library.

2011-2012 Lecture Series - Truth and Reconciliation

2012-2013 Lecture Series - Metis Health Issues Past - Present - Future

November 16, 2012 - Dr. Lisa Monkman - A Front-line Perspective on Metis Health Issues


February 22, 2013 - Dr. Glen McCabe - 'Walking the Healthing Path: Madness, method and the finding of self'

April 12, 2013 – Dr. Judith Bartlett – ‘Metis Health Issues: Past, Present and Future’

2013-2014 Lecture Series – Self Determination in a Modern Day Context

September 6, 2013 – Commissioner James Wilson, Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba – ‘Self Determination in a Modern Day Context’

2014 - 2015 Lecture Series - Reconciliation from a Spiritual, Physical, Emotional and Intellectual Perspective

September 12, 2014 - Keynote Speaker: Jean Friesen, Ph.D., B.A.

December 12, 2014 - Keynote Speaker: Carrie Bourassa, Ph.D., M.A., B.A.

January 30, 2015 - Keynote Speaker: Michael Yellow Bird, MSW, PH.D.

March 20, 2015 - Keynote Speaker: Valerie Gideon          


Related Lectures  

"The Demographic Profile of First Nations in Canada" presenter Keith Conn, Chief Operating Officer, First Nations Statisitical Institute (FNSI) - March 27, 2012  


Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

CIHR Institute of Aboriginal Peoples Health

Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF)

Centre for Aboriginal Health Education

Community Health Sciences

Continuing Professional Development

Indigenious Connect

MFN Centre for Aboriginal Health Research

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO)

Manitoba Métis Federation

Manitoba Urban Inuit Association

National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO)

Northern Medical Unit


Southern Chiefs Organization

WRHA – Aboriginal Health Programs


 WRHA - Framework for Action: Cultural Proficiency & Diversity


Conferences - Indigenous Focused - 2012


Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health

International Network of Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development (INIHKD)


Pacific Rim Indigenous Doc (PRIDoC)


Room P122 - Pathology Building

770 Bannatyne Avenue

Winnipeg, MB
R3E 0W3



Staff Directory
Dr. Catherine Cook, MD, MSc., CCFP, FCFP
Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health
Phone:               (204) 975-7743
Fax:                   (204) 789-3360

Darlene Lussier
Assistant, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health
Phone:               (204) 272-3167
Fax:                   (204) 789-3360