The Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing was approved by the University of Manitoba Senate on April 5, 2017 and officially launched on June 2, 2017.

Dr. Brian Postl, Dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and Vice-Provost (Health Sciences) initiated the planning process with Vice-Dean, Indigenous Health Dr. Catherine Cook more than two years ago. Today, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences’ Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing/Ongomiizwin is the largest Indigenous education and health unit in Canada.

Its mandate is to provide leadership and advance excellence in research, education and health services in collaboration with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities. Its work is guided by Knowledge Keepers and Elders and helps to achieve health and wellness of Indigenous peoples. 

Ongomiizwin (Clearing a path for generations to come) has a permanent place in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, affirming the University of Manitoba’s commitment to building respectful relationships and creating pathways to Indigenous health, healing and achievement.

The institute brings together at the Faculty level three units that were formerly part of the Max Rady College of Medicine: the Manitoba First Nations Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, the Centre for Aboriginal Health Education and the J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit.

These units have been renamed Ongomiizwin – Research, Ongomiizwin – Education, and Ongomiizwin – Health Services.  

Ongomiizwin will lead the implementation of the Rady Faculty’s Reconciliation Action Plan, developed in response to the health-related calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

The Action Plan addresses themes such as honouring traditional knowledge and healing practices; providing safe learning environments; improving support and retention of Indigenous students; educating all students and faculty in cultural safety and anti-racism; and removing barriers to health professional education.

The Action Plan was developed through a collaborative 18-month process involving University of Manitoba faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members, Elders and Knowledge Keepers. An Elders and Knowledge Keepers advisory circle retreat was held at Turtle Lodge. [Click to view the Knowledge Keepers full report and executive summary.]

It is significant that the institute’s name encompasses not only health, but healing. Ongomiizwin supports spiritual healing from the ongoing legacies of colonialism as part of the reconciliation process.

The institute is led by Dr. Catherine Cook, Vice-Dean, Indigenous Health and her senior management team of Dr. Marcia Anderson, Executive Director, Indigenous Academic Affairs; Melanie MacKinnon, Executive
Director, Indigenous Health Services; and Elders in Residence Margaret Lavallee and Mary Wilson.

Ongomiizwin provides leadership in Indigenous health across the five colleges of the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences (dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and rehabilitation sciences) in the areas of education, research and health services. See organizational structure to the top, right.

Ongomiizwin is located at the following spaces on the University of Manitoba Bannatyne campus:

  • Ongomiizwin – Vice-Dean, Indigenous Health
    Ongomiizwin  – Education, Academic Affairs
    P122 Pathology
  • Ongomiizwin – Education, Student Support
    S206 Medical Services
  • Ongomiizwin – Health Services
    665 Basic Medical Sciences Building
  • Ongomiizwin – Research
    715 John Buhler Research Centre

(click image to enlarge)