Dr. Nel Wieman

Boozhoo! A big hello from where I live, work and play on unceded Coast Salish territory! I hope you will enjoy reading through this newsletter and learning more about some of our members – our activities, our challenges, and our achievements. There is a great deal of good, exciting news to share with you.

IPAC held its 2018 annual conference and AGM at McMaster University and Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. Although our gathering was small in numbers, our focus on physician wellness was worthwhile as many of the presentations were heartfelt and impactful. Check out some of the photos inside! It reminds us all that we will be limited in helping our communities be healthy if we are not making our own health and wellbeing a priority.

This issue of our newsletter will introduce you to our new IPAC Board members: we warmly welcome Dr. Kona Williams (Secretary), Dr. Melinda Fowler (Physician Director), Dr. Amanda Sauve (Resident Director), and Ms. Alanna Martineau (Student Director). The IPAC Executive comprises me, Dr. Evan Adams (Vice-President), Dr. Samantha Boshart (Treasurer), and Kona. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with suggestions or to let us know how we’re doing!

To my recollection, IPAC has not held a recent conference farther east than Montreal (2017) and so we have made the decision, arrived at by consensus at the 2018 conference / AGM, to show support for our MD students and physicians in our Atlantic region by holding our next annual conference / AGM (August 2019) in St. John’s, Newfoundland!

Given that many of us will be travelling long distances to get there, we are thinking of spreading our IPAC activities out over an extra day to be able to spend more time together. We also have been spending half a day / evening in an Indigenous community as part of our yearly gatherings but because of the vast distances in Newfoundland, one idea is that we host a social event / dinner at the St. John’s Native Friendship Centre. We’ll be sending out a “Save the Date” soon! If you’re interested in volunteering for our planning committee, please reach out to me at

Another important announcement involves the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress (PRIDoC). As you may know, PRIDoC is a biennial gathering of Indigenous medical students, residents, physicians, associates, and family members. The six Indigenous medical associations that are part of the PRIDoC Council come from Hawaii, Mainland US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan. I had the pleasure of attending the 9th PRIDoC in July 2018 in Hilo on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. I’m happy and proud to announce that Canada has been accepted to host the 10th PRIDoC in 2020 in Vancouver, BC! We will soon be striking a steering committee and there will be a need for volunteers on the various subcommittees (academic program, social, etc.) so if you are interested in participating, please let us know.

The IPAC Board and Executive has been moving the association forward in several ways. One is further expanding our website – to have more resources, to be more informative, and to establish a members-only portal where you can easily renew your annual membership and register for the annual conference. We are also thinking about expanding our fundraising initiatives, and as a non-profit organization with charitable tax status, we have added a “donate” button to our homepage to make it easier and more convenient for prospective donors. Plans are also under way to open an online store where you will be able to buy t-shirts, tote bags, and eventually hoodies and other merchandise branded with our IPAC logo! We need to increase the traffic to our website and will be exploring various possibilities as a Board. If you have any additional suggestions, please send them our way!

We are excited to announce that we have obtained funds for support staff to help us with all of this work: as a result of our partnership with The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) over the past years, the College has agreed to provide us with up to five years of funding that we will manage completely independently and use to hire two part-time coordinators. One will be based in Ottawa and will be our “face” there at meetings in addition to coordinating fundraising activities; the other will be working with us here in Vancouver and will provide support in organizing PRIDoC 2020.

We are in the process of seeking and evaluating applicants, so if you know of someone based in either Ottawa or Vancouver who is looking for part-time work (two days/week) and may be a good fit with IPAC, please ask them to be in touch with us.

Lastly, several of our IPAC members have recently been significantly honoured for their career achievements. Huge congratulations on behalf of IPAC go out to Dr. Thomas Dignan (Order of Canada), Dr. Marlyn Cook (2019 Indspire Award in Health), and Dr. Marcia Anderson (Women’s Executive Network’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada). You can read more about their inspiring accomplishments, and others’, inside. Each of these physicians has worked in Indigenous health, breaking through various barriers, including systemic racism in the healthcare system. Let’s let their work be motivating for us all –let’s lean in and be courageous this New Year as we go about our work in medicine, aiming above all to improve the health and wellness of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, including, of course, ourselves. All the best to you and your families in 2019!

Please send us your news for this website, our newsletter, and our Facebook page! Help us grow and nurture our IPAC community!

In Spirit, Chii-Meegwetch,


Dr. Cornelia (Nel) Wieman
Follow me on Twitter: @cwieman