Northern Exposure

November 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I got my first taste of Canada’s North as a medical student in the mid-1970s….it was an elective, I was young and adventurous. And immediately I was hooked. It was a lot of things: the people, the beauty of the land, the desperate need for health care in northern and remote communities…and knowing that while I couldn’t fix it all, I could do my small part.

This initial experience led me to pursue pediatrics as a specialty and shaped my entire career. To this day, I continue to regularly fly up North to provide health care to the people and the children of some of the most remote communities in our country.

We, as a faculty, have a long history and unique standing on the national stage when it comes to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health. Through the J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit, we are leaders in health care delivery in the north. On Dec. 4, the NMU will be celebrating its 40th anniversary. To mark the occasion, an afternoon CME event at Bannatyne Campus is planned followed by a gala dinner at the Millennium Centre. For more information, or to purchase gala tickets ($85 each/$40 for medical students) please call 204-789-3711 or visit

I have recently appointed Dr. Catherine Cook as Associate Dean, First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health. Her leadership is invaluable to the faculty and will build on initiatives such as the Centre for Aboriginal Health Education and the newly created Section of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Health in the Dept. of Community Health Sciences.

On the research front, the Manitoba First Nations-Centre on Aboriginal Health Research engages with First Nations communities on Aboriginal health research and supports graduate students and community-based research; as does the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.

All of these resources are working towards improving health outcomes for indigenous peoples– provincially, nationally and internationally. Last week, MP Rod Bruinooge heard first-hand about the NMU and MFN-CAHR’s objectives, collaborations and research endeavours during a Research Canada-sponsored visit. He was very impressed. Shouldn’t we all be?

I’d love to hear about any NMU experiences you’d like to share.