The duties of the co-chairs will be as follows:
Represent and speak on behalf of the IMSAC.
Call meetings, chair, and plan the agenda for council meetings.
Oversee all IMSAC events and committees.
Act as a support to other council roles as needed.
Has co-signing authority on all financial transactions with the Director of Finance.
Responsible for overseeing the association bylaws and governance.
Coordinate initiatives across the country.
Candidate: jayelle friesen-enns
Tansi, Aniin, Boozhoo, Bonjour, and Hello! My name is Jayelle Friesen-Enns (She/They) and I am a Two-Spirit person from Manitoba. I was born in Winnipeg and adopted into a family from Rosenort, where I grew up. As an adopted person, reconnecting with my Indigenous heritage and culture has been a long journey and it's something that I continue to work actively towards in my daily life and something that I would bring with me to IMSAC.
Prior to medical school, I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Genetics (Honours) and began a Master’s in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases which I am currently completing alongside medical school at the University of Manitoba, which is located on Treaty 1 territory, the homeland of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene, and the homeland of the Métis nation.
Something that I am passionate about is Indigenous health and representation. I have demonstrated this through activism in my medical school. During the last two years of medical school, I have created a new Indigenous representative position on student council, passed legislation to make it a requirement for all medsoc members to take Indigenous cultural safety training, and worked with faculty to make the Indigenous medical admissions process more equitable. This passion is what led me to undertake the formation of IMSAC and it is something that I plan to continue in my future career as a physician.
Outside of medical school I enjoy cycling, beading, and spending time with my cats, Dash and Artemis.
I have extensive experience in student politics and governance. My experience includes holding the position of Class President in medical school for the past two years and being re-elected for a 3rd term, 1 year as the Vice President of my graduate department, and numerous years as an executive on various curricular and student committees.
An experience that I think would be particularly beneficial as a future Co-Chair for IMSAC is my role as an ambassador for the Canadian Medical Association. As a CMA ambassador, I attend the annual Health Summit where I am able to use my experiences as an Indigenous woman and medical student to discuss current issues and contribute to the formation of goals for the future of the CMA.
The most relevant experience that would contribute to my success in the role of a Co-Chair would be my experiences forming IMSAC; as I am both an official co-founder and was the person to initiate connections with other Indigenous medical students when IMSAC was merely an idea. I have put in countless hours planning meetings, making connections, and designing the website for IMSAC. As well, I have constantly advocated for IMSAC to remain as decolonized as possible and I have made sure to connect with Elders and Knowledge Keepers for wisdom and guidance during this process. I believe that the drive and passion that I have demonstrated through the formation and development of IMSAC will help me to succeed as a Co-Chair.
As a future Co-Chair of IMSAC I have a few goals that I intend to work towards:
Continue working with Elders and Knowledge Keepers to gain wisdom regarding our governance and to develop cultural connections and learning opportunities for medical students across the country.
Develop a mentorship program and networking community where Indigenous students can connect with Indigenous residents and physicians in their preferred specialties.
Create a support system where Indigenous students can make connections and reach out for advocacy support as needed to increase Indigenous representation in the medical field.
Organize an annual meeting where Indigenous medical students can gather to network and support one another.
Create new opportunities for Indigenous medical students to participate in research, leadership, and community.
Listen to and act on the needs and opinions of Indigenous medical students regarding their concerns and ideas regarding the structure and functioning of IMSAC.
Provide resources for anti-racism and cultural safety training for both Indigenous students and settlers.
As your Co-Chair West, I would be very excited to work together with the Co-Chair East and support the Leadership Circle in all that we will accomplish in our inaugural year. I have great hopes for IMSAC and I look forward to learning and growing this organization according to the needs of Indigenous medical students.
Candidate: Jesse lafontaine
Taanishi, Jesse Lafontaine dishinihkaashoon. Hello, my name is Jesse Lafontaine (he/him). I am a proud Métis man in my second year of medical school at the University of Alberta. I was born and raised in Kelowna, British Columbia on traditional Syilx/Okanagan territory and the unceded land of the Okanagan Nation. I have previously completed a Bachelor of Science Honours degree majoring in chemistry at the University of British Columbia before starting medical school. I am particularly passionate about Indigenous health and have additional interests in policy, law, and leadership in medicine. I currently live year-round in Edmonton, Alberta on Treaty 6 territory, the territory of the Papaschase, and the homeland of the Métis Nation, where I enjoy spending time in the magnificent River Valley. Outside of school I enjoy biking, hiking, exploring new places, and reviewing local ice cream shops. In the future I hope to pursue a medical career combining my interest in Indigenous health with my skills in leadership and policy development.
I have been involved in a variety of leadership and volunteer activities in both my university and Indigenous communities that have well prepared me for a role on the IMSAC Leadership Circle.
As the current President of the University of Alberta Medical Students’ Association (MSA) I represent over 650 medical students while overseeing the work of 8 executive members, 42 councillors, and 10 officers as we coordinate all matters pertaining to the representation, educational, and social activities of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry student body locally, provincially, and nationally.
In my role as Vice President of Advocacy and External Relations with the University of Alberta Indigenous Medical and Dental Students' Association (IMDSA) I work to advocate for the distinct needs of current and prospective Indigenous students through mentorship, admission interview support and the promotion of Indigenous healthcare careers.
I am an active member with the Métis Nation of British Columbia including serving as a member of the provincial wide British Columbia Métis Youth Mental Health and Wellness Initiative where I supported the development of Métis specific projects and resources to promote wellness, reduce stigma, and empower mental health through an Indigenous specific lens.
Additionally, I have served on numerous committees and elected governance bodies including policy review, medical school accreditation, medical school curriculum, student representative, academic governance, leadership selection, and student discipline committees. These experiences have been particularly valuable in allowing me to embrace my strengths, gain experience with governance and leadership, and build connections with influential leaders.
As the first national organization of its kind, IMSAC has great potential to advocate for and support Indigenous medical students across the country. I am most excited for the opportunity to connect and build a community of Indigenous medical students because I know although we are located at different medical schools, we share many of the same experiences and share a commitment to improving the health of all Indigenous people.
I believe I have the skills and strengths necessary to support the IMSAC Leadership Circle as we work towards increasing Indigenous representation in the healthcare field, promoting cultural safety and humility in the delivery of health services to Indigenous peoples, and closing the gaps in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. Some of main priorities would be to empower Indigenous student voices and promote Indigenous excellence in medicine.
Exciting times are ahead for IMSAC including planning an annual gathering and opportunities to collaborate with organizations like IPAC on initiatives including their mentorship program. As we continue to build IMSAC I want to make sure we remain responsive to the desires of Indigenous medical students and elders to ensure we move forward in a good way!
I know medical school is a team sport and I truly believe that through IMSAC we can create a community of support to ensure current Indigenous medical students and the generations of Indigenous medical students that come after will become the doctors of tomorrow! I am excited for what we can do together!