Celebrated First Nations physician wins inaugural - Royal College Indigenous health award

OTTAWA, March 25, 2015 /CNW/ - A Mohawk Nation physician has received the inaugural Royal College Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award for her dedication to bridging the gap between Indigenous health values and the practice of western medicine.

Karen Hill, MD, CCFP, is a family physician who works at Juddah's Place, a clinic she cofounded in 2013 with colleague Elva Jamieson in Ohsweken, Ont., a village on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation reserve near Brantford, Ont.

Juddah's Place is a place where old meets new. It is where Dr. Hill has achieved her dream of practicing medicine in a model of collaborative care that incorporates traditional Indigenous healing alongside primary care. The practice also trains family medicine residents and apprentices of traditional medicine.

"Juddah's Place is truly a space unlike any other in Canada," said James Makokis, MD, CCFP, who previously sat with Dr. Hill on the board of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada. "It is entirely self-sufficient, receives no government funding, and represents the model of health care delivery our ancestors envisioned receiving when they agreed to Treaty Six and its 'medicine chest clause,' which should be interpreted as meaning they can have access to the best medicines from both systems, Indigenous and western."

Juddah is a term for grandmother used by children in the language of the Cayugas, one of the Six Nations that comprise the Iroquois Confederacy in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States.

Dr. Hill also works at McMaster University where she has been faculty lead in Aboriginal Peoples health in the Department of Family Medicine since 2007. This invaluable position allows her to advise on the integration of cultural safety and competence in the education and clinical training of residents.

"Dr. Hill's devotion to ensuring that Indigenous Peoples can enjoy health, wellbeing and a full expression of their identity embodies the spirit of our Thomas Dignan award," said Royal College CEO Andrew Padmos, MD, FRCPC. "Her dedication to eradicate the disparities and inequities in health outcomes and quality of care make her a source of pride for the Royal College and Canadian medicine."

The wellbeing of Canada's Indigenous Peoples is a top priority for the Royal College. The Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award was established in 2014 to recognize physicians who epitomize a zeal and devotion to the rights and pursuit of justice for Canada's Indigenous Peoples. It distinguishes individuals like its namesake, Thomas Dignan, OOnt, MD, chair of the Royal College Indigenous Health Advisory Committee, who embrace cultural safety and understand the importance of the social determinants of health.

"Receiving this award means something very personal to me," said Dr. Hill. "It acknowledges the value of a 'healing approach' to Indigenous Peoples' health that includes traditional Indigenous knowledge and medicine practices as part of that approach."

For more information about our awards and grants program, visit the Royal College website at www.royalcollege.ca/awards.

About the Royal College

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is the home of specialty care in Canada, setting the standards for postgraduate medical education, supporting the continuing professional development of 47,000 members and affiliates, and supporting health system innovations nationwide. To find out more, please visit royalcollege.ca.

 

SOURCE Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

For further information: Tom McMillan, Senior Communications Specialist, Communications and External Relations tmcmillan@royalcollege.ca613-730-8177 ext. 474, 1-800-668-3740 ext. 474

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