BC’s second medical school program comes to SFU

Catherine Dauvergne discusses importance of tackling anti-Indigenous racism within health care curriculum

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Blusson building at SFU
PHOTO: Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

SFU is in the early stages of developing a medical school program in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority and the Fraser Health Authority. “We want to be a catalyst for change in BC with a focus on community-embedded, socially accountable, and culturally relevant health care,” said SFU vice-president academic and provost Catherine Dauvergne in an email statement to The Peak

In an information session on October 18, 2021, Dauvergne reported she has been working with the two health authorities the past few months to create “a foundation for collaboration.”

She noted the discussion of a new medical school at SFU has been in progress since late 2020. One of the NDP’s election promises was that it would put BC’s second medical school at the SFU Surrey campus.

She believes in the importance of having a culturally sensitive and socially accountable health care curriculum. “Like other provinces, BC is in need of more primary care physicians, especially those who have an understanding of anti-racist practices, and Indigenous knowledge and experience.” The program aims to focus on Indigenous healthcare needs.

We want to ensure that our programming embeds Indigenous ways of knowing and being, teaches cultural safety and humility, and trains practitioners who will have the skills to provide a diverse range of primary care in Indigenous communities as well as other underserved and historically marginalized communities,” said Dauvergne to The Peak

“I’m really excited about this opportunity. We know in Canada, these opportunities don’t appear very often to develop new medical curricula. It’s a chance to envision a new way of thinking about medical education,” said president Joy Johnson during the information session.

“This is a project that forces us to look into the future and has the potential to have a significant impact in our local communities,” Dauvergne said.

“We are in the early phases of this work, and there are still many phases of planning and approvals ahead. If approved, the start of the school will still be several years away,” she said. 

Dauvergne noted feedback from the SFU community is being considered at this time in the planning stages. They have a survey available on their website where community members can share their thoughts.