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NOSM announces first research chair in Indigenous health, traditional medicine

Dr. Darryl Manitowabi will lead research into understanding how the health of Indigenous people was affected by colonialism
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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and Associated Medical Services (AMS) this week announced the appointment of Dr. Darrel Manitowabi as the NOSM-AMS Hannah Chair in the History of Indigenous Health and Indigenous Traditional Medicine. (Image: Laurentian University)

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and Associated Medical Services (AMS) this week announced the appointment of Dr. Darrel Manitowabi as the NOSM-AMS Hannah Chair in the History of Indigenous Health and Indigenous Traditional Medicine.

His appointment is regarded as an historic event in that Manitowabi's appointment is seen as a step toward understanding how the health of Indigenous people was affected by colonialism.  The appointment is for a five-year renewable term, effective July 1, 2020, said a news release from NOSM.

“The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is deeply honoured to have Dr. Darrel Manitowabi take on this valuable position,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM Dean, president and CEO at NOSM.

“We are taking another major step in addressing how colonialism has affected the health and well-being of First Nations communities by no longer avoiding the history of wondrous healing and medicines in our society. We have much to learn from that history and NOSM is committed to the Calls to Action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

 “AMS is incredibly pleased to announce the addition of the NOSM-AMS Hannah Chair in the History of Indigenous Health and Traditional Medicine,” said Gail Paech, CEO of AMS. 

“The Hannah Chairs were established to create enduring cultures of teaching and research in the history of medicine and health care and we believe Dr. Darrel Manitowabi will bring a wealth of essential knowledge to his institution and Canada at large.”

Manitowabi is Three Fires (Odawa, Ojibwa, Potawatomi) Anishinaabe from the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory. He currently resides in the Whitefish River First Nation. 

Most recently, Manitowabi served as the director of Northern and Community Studies at Laurentian University, and at NOSM was the director of Indigenous Affairs in 2018 and the assistant dean of Graduate Studies in 2019.

An Indigenous anthropologist with research interests in Anishnaabe ethnohistory and oral history, Indigenous gambling, Indigenous social determinants of health, Indigenous healing, Indigenous-state relations and Indigenous self-determination, Manitowabi’s research and publications examine how the historical legacy of colonialism impacts the health and wellbeing of First Nations communities, said the NOSM news release.

His research in the history of Indigenous health situates the place of Anishinaabe language (Anishinaabemowin) and knowledge (kendaasawin) in conceptions of holistic wellbeing (mino-bimaadiziwin) and ill health (maanaaji-bimaadizwin).

As the NOSM-AMS Hannah Chair in the History of Indigenous Health and Traditional Medicine, Manitowabi will work to promote the discussion of the inherent, constitutional, Treaty and international rights of all Indigenous Peoples and communities and the protection of traditional knowledge and medicines from appropriation. Manitowabi’s research focus, as the Chair, will be in the history of Indigenous Health and he will contribute to NOSM’s role in leading scholarly activity in the history of Indigenous Health.

Endowed through the generosity of AMS, Manitowabi joins seven other AMS Hannah Chairs in medical schools across Canada, where they are integral members of undergraduate and graduate education in the health professions, especially medicine, said the release.