NOSM students receive CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Award
Tim Brody - Editor
Alison Lewis, a Métis NOSM medical student who was born in Sioux Lookout and grew up in Manitoba, is one of two NOSM students to receive CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Awards.
Mélanie-Rose Frappier and Alison Lewis, both fourth-year medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), are the inaugural recipients of newly established CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Awards. The awards recognize self-identified Indigenous learners at NOSM who demonstrate exceptional leadership and mentorship within the school and community.
“Mélanie-Rose and Alison are fantastic leaders with a strong commitment to promoting access to health care, Indigenous culture, anti-racism, equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO of NOSM in a July 21 media release. “They are compassionate individuals who have made a real difference and will continue to do so as future physicians in Northern Ontario.”
Each student will receive $20,000 and a professional development budget of $3,750 and are supported with networking resources.
“The students will become active members of the Indigenous Reference Group and the Indigenous Health Education Committee at NOSM during the fourth year of their MD program. As student members, they provide insight and actionable items to support future Indigenous health learners at NOSM and in Northern Ontario,” NOSM informed.
“As a future Indigenous family physician in Northern Ontario, I have an important advocacy role in Indigenous health leadership. I intend to continue to support Indigenous students, advocate for changes that improve health disparities, and foster culturally safe environments for all Indigenous patients,” Lewis said, adding, “Thank you for this incredible opportunity.”
Lewis conducted her third year Comprehensive Community Clerkships (CCC) with Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC).
She previously said to The Bulletin about the experience, “My CCC experience at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre has been a fantastic experience. I have felt so welcome from the very beginning and have gotten to know so many people. We have had the opportunity to work in many areas of practice including clinic, emergency, obstetrics, fracture clinic, day medicine, hospitalist, surgery, infectious disease and many others. It is amazing to see what possibilities there are for family medicine here.”
She added, “For 4th year, I will be mostly in Thunder Bay for my core rotations. I will also be doing an elective in Dryden, and will be coming back to Sioux Lookout for an elective in obstetrics! I plan to pursue family medicine somewhere in northwestern Ontario, but still haven’t decided exactly where that will be.”
She holds an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry, and completed her thesis in organic chemistry. During her CCC she worked with Indigenous patients and in several Northern fly-in communities.
“Thank you for this award. I am truly honoured,” said Mélanie-Rose Frappier, who also holds an undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies. “Health and culture are my passions, and I plan to include both Western and Indigenous ways of thinking and healing in my future practice. I truly believe that in order to heal we must focus on all aspects of health including the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.”
Mélanie-Rose Frappier is from Sudbury and identifies as Métis and Francophone. She graduated from Laurentian University in 2018 with an undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies. At age 16 she created her own non-profit organization called C’est Cool d’être en Santé, with the goal of educating youth about the importance of physical activity and created a declaration focusing on the educational inequalities facing Indigenous youth. She is the founder of several NOSM interest groups, including the Indigenous Cultural Activities Interest Group, the Self-Accountability Group, and is co-president of the Anti-Racism Book Club. Mélanie-Rose plans to practise family medicine in Indigenous and Francophone communities in Northern Ontario.
NOSM received a donation from CIBC in May 2020 to establish this new initiative designed to promote and recognize Indigenous learner leadership and mentorship.
On June 3, the Government of Ontario passed legislation to make NOSM the first stand-alone medical university in Canada.