W51 – Indigenous Perspectives on Mental Health: Reflections on Five Years of Teaching a New Curriculum

W51 – Indigenous Perspectives on Mental Health: Reflections on Five Years of Teaching a New Curriculum

Saturday, Oct. 29
15:45 – 16:45 (1 hr)
Meeting Room: Sheraton Hall A (Lower Concourse)
Polina Anang*, MD, PhD, FRCPC; Jeannette Tourangeau, BA, BEd

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Health Advocate
  2. Collaborator
  3. Leader

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Identify the role systemic racism is playing in the way mental health care is designed and delivered; 2) Support learners in taking a more critical stance in addressing health inequity; and 3) Consider how to incorporate current Indigenous authors and films in medical education.

The urgency to overhaul Manitoba postgraduate academic seminars for trainees in psychiatry was obvious. With 18% of the population of Manitoba being Indigenous, with Brian Sinclair spending 34 hours in the emergency department and dying from sepsis without receiving care, with advocates comparing foster care and child apprehensions to the modern-day residential school system, it was painfully clear to us that a new curriculum was needed. Teaching topics covering the history of colonization, oppression, resistance, and cultural resilience of Indigenous peoples were designed to invite dialogue with psychiatry residents. Indigenous panel guests represented the diversity of voices and lived experiences and taught in here-and-now how to be respectful, welcome dissent, and embrace differences in understanding and ways of planning the future. In this workshop, the presenters will share the themes we found most helpful in engaging learners in an open conversation on systemic racism, power differentials, and health inequity. We will invite participants to share their own stories of how Indigenous cultures, lived experiences, and world views are incorporated into psychiatry academic learning and what needs to be done to make future psychiatrists aware of their blind spots. Community engagement and advocacy will be highlighted. Presenters will explore how their ancestral sense of belonging (Dene/Metis and Russian Ashkenazi Jewish), along with their expertise in relation to the world of psychiatry, helped them establish Indigenous perspectives on mental health seminars as mutually enriching learning for residents and educators.


  1. McCallum MJL, Perry A. Structures of Indifference. An Indigenous Life and Death in a Canadian City. Winnipeg (MB): University of Manitoba Press; 2018.
  2. Wente J. Unreconciled: Family, Truth, and Indigenous Resistance. Toronto (ON): Penguin Canada; 2021.