The duties of the Director of Community Engagement are as follows:
Supports students looking at their journey of healing, connecting students with cultural supports, finding workshops, including working with external community agencies to bring in workshops and events
Collaborates on community events with other organizations.
Manages networking opportunities and the mentorship program.
Responsible for recruitment of incoming Indigenous medical students, residents, and doctors for membership and mentorship.
Works with university-specific Indigenous medical student associations.
Candidate 1: Melissa McElroy
Boozhoo! Hello! My name is Melissa McElroy, and I am a first year medical student at NOSM University, in Thunder Bay, Ontario. As a new Ontarian, I have very much so enjoyed exploring the outdoors and growing in my knowledge of the communities I have the pleasure of serving. Prior to my journey to Ontario, I lived in many locations in Canada, from Manitoba, to Alberta, and British Columbia. I have enjoyed experiencing Canada and getting to know the people and their specific needs, while marvelling at the diversity of each place. Prior to attending medical school, I obtained a Bachelor of Theology, and soon after embarked on my degree in Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, graduating First Class with Honours. I worked in every kind of field from general labour to management, dance instructor to administrator. Outside of academia, you can find me hiking a mountain with my trustee dog, Malik, and husband. Or curled up next to a fire with good friends and a good book.
As a mature student, I believe I have collected an arsenal of experiences that would help me with this role. During my time at the University of Calgary, I participated in several Indigenous interest groups and engaged with peer-to-peer mentoring. This, I believe, will help me engage with prospective and current Indigenous students on their journey through academia. Furthermore, having worked within several rural and remote Indigenous communities, I have had the opportunity to be educated firsthand on the diverse needs of Indigenous groups. Pertaining to the role specifically, I believe my experience as Vice President of student council during my post-secondary education that will help with the clerical duties of this role. Furthermore, having worked in management and administration, I believe I will thrive at setting and following agendas, consulting with interest groups, and managing events. It has been a joy to learn and grow through these experiences, and I hope to be able to share this with all those impacted and affiliated with IMSAC. Thank you!
My goals while in this role are to create an environment that fosters collaboration and furthers the mission of IMSAC. This, I will be attained through meeting with members, discussing visions and annual goals, and collaborating with them on how they believe this is best achieved. Furthermore, it is my intention to contribute effectively to sessions and represent IMSAC with dignity and honesty. As a candidate for this role, I believe it is important to be transparent with those within the community and those IMSAC collaborates with. Finally, it is my goal to demonstrate strong reliability and accountability on all manners this role should bring
Candidate 2: priscilla Lawson-Pires
My name is Priscilla, I am Heiltsuk and Portuguese, born and raised in Vancouver, B.C. on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Peoples. I am currently a second year medical student in the class of 2025 at the University of British Columbia. I am passionate about addressing the inequities experienced by Indigenous Peoples when accessing primary care. Before medical school, I worked with the local health authority as an Indigenous Patient Navigator to support patients during their stay in hospital. My journey into medicine was driven by my desire to change how Indigenous People in Canada experience the healthcare system. In my free time I enjoy playing and coaching lacrosse, and spending time with my pup!
Before medicine I worked with Vancouver Coastal Health as an Indigenous patient navigator, and an Elder’s coordinator. Through these positions I have networked with the local community and have experience supporting and advocating for peers. I have experience hosting cultural workshops that involved cooking and crafts. I have an understanding of the importance of integrating cultural experiences into our learning and healing. I am also working on the TRC Report Card project in partnership with IPAC. The goal of this project is to listen to improve how Indigenous medical learners experience medical education in Canada and hold medical schools accountable to TRC Calls to Action 23 & 24. At UBC, I am involved in mentorship roles and am always willing to pay forward the support that I have and continue to receive from peers throughout my journey into medicine.
Since being a member of IMSAC, I have found a sense of community where I feel a sense of belonging in peers who can relate to my experiences as an Indigenous person in medicine. I feel strongly that we need to reach out to more Indigenous medical students to give them a place to find the support and resources that they may need. In this role, I hope to create opportunities for our membership to participate in cultural workshops, mentorship, and gather (virtually). Being an Indigenous medical student can be isolating, so I’d like to provide a space where we can discuss our experiences together and support one another. Indigenous Peoples in Canada are diverse, I plan to gather feedback from students about what kind of healing practices they would like to do and integrate it into our activities to ensure that everyone feels represented. As medical learners, we have so many questions that go unanswered, I plan to host opportunities to [virtually] meet Indigenous physicians from various specialties who may be able to answer our questions and guide us as we approach residency. I hope to support and encourage a sense of community amongst Indigenous physicians and medical learners in Canada. We are underrepresented in medicine, let’s stick together and support each other on this journey!