The College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan has hired its first vice-dean Indigenous Health; a position created to bring Indigenous health issues to the forefront at the college.

Dr. Janet Tootoosis will fill the role on an interim basis while the university searches for a permanent selection. Tootoosis will begin her tenure on June 1st for one year.

According to Tootoosis, her role as interim vice-dean will be to develop the right framework for the responsibilities this position will take on in the future. She says she is excited to bring her passion for Indigenous health to the role.

“The opportunity to focus my knowledge, experience, and skill in advancing the work in Indigenous health for the USask College of Medicine is truly an honour,” Tootoosis said. “I look forward to supporting the initial task of building the Division of Indigenous Health. There is much work already underway and more to be done.”

In the interim role, Tootoosis will bring together a team to form the college’s new Division of Indigenous Health.

“This is a really important step for our college,” said Dr. Preston Smith, dean of medicine. “While we have had significant success in recent years in areas like Indigenous admissions and Indigenous health research, we need more resources and better integration and coordination of our existing resources if we are truly to meet the Calls for Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

Dr. Tootoosis, of Poundmaker First Nation, graduated from the College of Medicine in 1999. She is currently a family physician and the residency program site director in North Battleford.

(PHOTO: Dr. Janet Tootoosis provided by the University of Saskatchewan.)