The Government of Canada has provided $2.1 million in funding for a dental therapy program at the University of Saskatchewan looking to recruit Indigenous students.

The new program would be the first and only accredited Indigenous dental therapy degree program of its kind in Canada.

The new program is a collaboration between the College of Dentisry, the Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority and Sask Polytechnic.

“The great work that the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Dentistry is doing alongside the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic is paving the way for a new generation of oral health professionals and creating a brighter future for those seeking health services,” said Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu in a media release. “I am eager to see the first cohort of new graduates from this great initiative and the benefits this work will bring for so many. Congratulations.”

“NITHA is excited this program is coming to fruition. A program to address the oral health needs throughout NITHA continues to be a top priority for our Board of Chiefs,” said NITHA Executive Director Tara Campbell. “Our leadership has been advocating for a program since the closure of the National School of Dental Therapy; Growing capacity in dental therapy is central to improving Indigenous oral health, not only in Saskatchewan but, across the country.”

The focus of the program will be to recruit Indigenous students with a hope to meet the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action to increase the number of Indigenous professionals in Canada’s health systems.

The program will also give Indigenous communities an opportunity to sponsor Indigenous students.