CBC: Record number of Indigenous students begin med school at University of Manitoba
As they begin their first year of medical school, two Métis women have aspirations of helping Indigenous people access better and more equitable health care in the province.
Kirsten Fleury, 24, and Caitlin Wachal, 32, took part in the White Coat Ceremony on Wednesday, as the Max Rady College of Medicine welcomed its largest cohort of Indigenous students ever, with 17 out of 110 students self-identifying as Indigenous.
“I am still feeling like everything is very surreal,” Fleury said after reciting the physician’s pledge and receiving her white coat — a milestone she’s looked forward to for several years.
“It felt exciting and also terrifying that today was finally the day. This is real. I did get in.”
Fleury’s medical aspirations began in high school, but she said her first few years of university were difficult and shook her confidence.
She started working with Métis professor Michelle Driedger as part of an Indigenous research mentorship program at the University of Manitoba, getting involved in projects related to Métis health and wellness. She said the experience bridged her passion for health care and in working with her people and culture.
“It was that moment when I was able to really find a passion with Indigenous health and meeting all of the people I was able to meet through the Indigenous community at the U of M that really springboarded me into deciding, ‘yes,’ this is something I think I can pursue,” she said.
She hopes to one day work as a physician with Indigenous people, either in a clinic or research setting, to simply help improve someone’s day, or to collect information that will lead to systemic and policy changes that will benefit Indigenous people in Manitoba.
Wednesday’s ceremony was equally meaningful for Wachal, who called the moment she donned her white coat ‘humbling and exciting.’
Read the full CBC story here.