Two NOSM Students Receive CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Award

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Northern Ontario School of Medicine

$47,500 awarded for demonstrating leadership and mentorship within school and community

Thunder Bay – NEWS – Mélanie-Rose Frappier and Alison Lewis, both fourth-year medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), are the inaugural recipients of newly established CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Awards. The awards recognize self-identified Indigenous learners at NOSM who demonstrate exceptional leadership and mentorship within the School and community.

On June 3, 2021, the Government of Ontario passed legislation to make NOSM the first stand-alone medical university in Canada. This good news is just a part of the growing number of success in the NOSM story.

“Mélanie-Rose and Alison are fantastic leaders with a strong commitment to promoting access to health care, Indigenous culture, anti-racism, equity and inclusion,” says Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO of NOSM. “They are compassionate individuals who have made a real difference and will continue to do so as future physicians in Northern Ontario.”

Each student will receive the prestigious award of $20,000 and a professional development budget of $3,750 and are supported with networking resources. The students will become active members of the Indigenous Reference Group and the Indigenous Health Education Committee at NOSM during the fourth year of their MD program. As student members, they provide insight and actionable items to support future Indigenous health learners at NOSM and in Northern Ontario.

Mélanie-Rose Frappier
Third-Year Medical Student, Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM Class of 2022)

Mélanie-Rose Frappier is from Sudbury and identifies as Métis and Francophone. She graduated from Laurentian University in 2018 with an undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies. At age 16 she created her own non-profit organization called C’est Cool d’être en Santé, with the goal of educating youth about the importance of physical activity and created a declaration focusing on the educational inequalities facing Indigenous youth. She is the founder of several NOSM interest groups, including the Indigenous Cultural Activities Interest Group, the Self-Accountability Group, and is co-president of the Anti-Racism Book Club. Mélanie-Rose plans to practise family medicine in Indigenous and Francophone communities in Northern Ontario.

Alison Lewis
Third Year Medical Student, Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM Class of 2022)

Alison Lewis, a Métis NOSM medical student, was born in Sioux Lookout and grew up in Manitoba. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology and chemistry, and completed her thesis in organic chemistry. She spent her third year of medical school in Sioux Lookout where she worked with Indigenous patients and in several Northern fly-in communities. Alison plans to work as a family physician in Northern Ontario.

Social accountability is a core value at NOSM and is instilled in students and learners throughout their educational experience. Both award recipients expressed gratitude and their personal commitment to advancing social accountability in health care.

“Thank you for this award. I am truly honoured,” says Mélanie-Rose Frappier, who also holds an undergraduate degree in Indigenous Studies. “Health and culture are my passions, and I plan to include both Western and Indigenous ways of thinking and healing in my future practice. I truly believe that in order to heal we must focus on all aspects of health including the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.”

“As a future Indigenous family physician in Northern Ontario, I have an important advocacy role in Indigenous health leadership. I intend to continue to support Indigenous students, advocate for changes that improve health disparities, and foster culturally safe environments for all Indigenous patients,” says Alison Lewis. “Thank you for this incredible opportunity.”

NOSM received a donation from CIBC in May 2020 to establish this new initiative designed to promote and recognize Indigenous learner leadership and mentorship. These awards will also improve learning and networking opportunities available to recipients.