Your donations are essential to helping us maintain learning opportunities and support for current and future Indigenous students at UBC. Thank you for your generosity.
Priority Projects for the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health
Summer camps have proven to be a highly effective way of immersing Aboriginal youth in the possibilities of a post-secondary education. Selected for the summer camp based on academic merit and cultural and community involvement, 40 students in Grades 8 to 11 stay for one week on campus at UBC, where they are introduced to life science and health careers through interactions with Aboriginal university students, UBC faculty members and staff. They experience first-hand what it’s like to be at UBC, which helps Aboriginal high school students feel more comfortable, welcomed and knowledgeable in choosing post-secondary education and a health career as their field of study. They also have the chance to meet other Indigenous youth and develop future peer groups.
The Faculty of Medicine’s Aboriginal Admissions program—recognized as a model for other Canadian faculties of medicine—is successfully increasing the number of Aboriginal medical students and physicians in British Columbia. In the 13 years since launching the program in 2002 with input from BC’s Aboriginal communities, more than 50 Aboriginal students have completed their MD training, five years ahead of our original goal of 2020. Targeted financial support for Aboriginal medical students is critical in order to support them on their journey to becoming physicians.
In addition to tuition costs, many students must bear the cost of moving to the Lower Mainland from another part of the province, at least for the first year when all medical students attend classes in Vancouver. Some families pay rent in two places, if they cannot afford to move. Aboriginal students often spend additional money on transportation because it is important for them to travel back-and-forth to their home communities, often in rural and remote areas of BC, to attend ceremonies and funerals, to reconnect and to heal. Returning home also serves a valuable purpose for communities as medical students are role models who inspire others.
Born in Inuvik, NWT, Cindy was the first Inuit to graduate from the UBC MD program. She lived for several years in northern British Columbia before she moved to Vancouver, to attend the UBC Faculty of Medicine. During her time at UBC, Cindy was passionate about Aboriginal health and was acting president of the Students for Aboriginal Health group. Following her graduation from UBC with a Medical Doctorate in 2002, Cindy went on to practice as a family physician in the North.
Cindy was strongly motivated by the lack of Aboriginal doctors, particularly in the North where there are few Inuit physicians. Cindy was very proud of her ancestry and had a deep commitment to her culture. She was the mother of two children, and many other colleagues, students and friends saw her as a mother figure. She always put herself in service of others, helping them and mentoring them. She was known for her sense of humour, cheery disposition and love of dance. A completely selfless person, she was driven to make a difference in the world and had a profound impact on everyone she met.
In keeping with Cindy’s passions, this new award will be given to Indigenous health sciences students with young families who come to study at UBC. Please help us to continue her legacy by making a gift in support of this award today.