The annual Dr. Peggy Hill Lecture, one of the university’s oldest standing initiatives in Indigenous health, has welcomed a variety of insightful speakers.
- In 2014, Evan Adams, of Sliammon First Nation and the Deputy Provincial Health Officer for British Columbia, spoke on emerging topics in urban and Indigenous health.
- In 2015, Phil Fontaine, a former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations,and Michael Dan (Class of 8T4), then a Chief Medical Officer in Canada’s Departments of the Interior and Indian Affairs, addressed the question: What are the next steps toward reconciliation?
- In 2016, Suzanne Stewart, a member of the Yellowknife Dene First Nation and a registered psychologist, was the speaker. Her presentation was titled “Indigenous Knowledges: Healing and Aboriginal Homelessness.”
- In 2017, Ry Moran, the first Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, titled his lecture “Towards a Trauma Informed Understanding of Reconciliation.”
- In 2018, Julie Bull, PhD, an Inuk researcher and member of NunatuKavut, Labrador, spoke on Indigenous data sovereignty.
- In 2019, Dr. Marcia Anderson, a Cree-Saulteaux practising internal medicine and public health in Winnipeg, spoke on her work as an Indigenous medical education activist.
- In 2020, Suzanne Methot, an Asiniwachi Nehiyaw and the author of the book Legacy: Trauma, Story, and Indigenous Healing spoke on Indigenous healing practices.
The 2021 Dr. Peggy Hill Lecture
This year’s lecture attracted almost 200 attendees on Zoom. It featured three speakers in a discussion titled “Wabanong: Where we begin again.”
Knowing it could trigger horrific memories for Indigenous peoples, the Zoom invitation included the phone number for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society’s 24-hour Crisis Line.
Speaker Nadia McLaren is an Anishnaabe Kwe with mixed ancestry who is the Manager of Indigenous Health Education at Women’s College Hospital (WCH). She pointed out that policies for taking children from Indigenous communities date back to the 1800s. “We all know about the ’60s Scoop and the ’70s Scoop,” she said, noting that there were 139 residential schools across Canada. “But there’s also the Millennial Scoop; there are more children in foster care now than there were at the height of the residential schools.”
“These children are subjected to incredible violence, but it’s invisible,” warned Andrew Balfour, a residential school survivor.
Balfour, a composer of Cree descent, challenged the attendees to look at how Canadian institutions are based on colonialism. “The destructive Euro-centric thinking permeates everything from our educational system, to our prison system, to our justice system, to our health care system,” he said.
Sara Roque, of Anishinaabekwe and mixed heritage, and a co-curator of the Indigenous art collection at WCH’s Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health, said that colonialism demonized Indigenous ways of healing. “Western medicine has a complete disregard for Indigenous medicine. “Western medicine has a complete disregard for Indigenous ways of knowing, which are sophisticated forms of knowledge that are thousands of years old,” she said. “People need to sit with the idea that Western knowledge is not more important than Indigenous knowledge.”