UM enters new era with appointment of first-ever VP (Indigenous)
Dr. Catherine Cook appointed to pivotal new role
A message from UM President and Vice-Chancellor David Barnard:
I am extremely pleased to announce that at its meeting of October 29, 2019, the Executive Committee, on behalf of the Board of Governors, approved the appointment of Dr. Catherine Cook, Vice-Dean (Indigenous) in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, to the position of Vice-President (Indigenous) of the University of Manitoba, for an interim period to June 30, 2022. Dr. Cook gradually will transition from her responsibilities in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences to this new position, beginning January 1, 2020.
Dr. Cook is the University of Manitoba’s inaugural Vice-President (Indigenous). Earlier in October, the Board of Governors received a report and approved the establishment of a Vice-President (Indigenous) position.
The report was developed by the committee established in February 2019 by Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Janice Ristock to assess the existing mandate and support structures for Indigenous senior leadership and provide recommendations going forward on the role and its mandate, appropriate reporting structures and units, and necessary supports.
This committee, chaired by Dr. Cook, issued a series of recommendations for the development of a university-wide approach that advances the University of Manitoba’s commitment to Indigenous Engagement, promotes Reconciliation and helps address anti-Indigenous racism. The committee’s recommendations included the establishment of a Vice-President (Indigenous) to lead the University’s work. This was approved by the Board of Governors as a first step in implementing the report, along with an expectation that an interim Vice-President (Indigenous) would be appointed as soon as possible to begin the implementation process.
Dr. Catherine L. Cook, MD, MSc, CCFP, FCFP is Métis and grew up in northern Manitoba. She received her undergraduate and postgraduate medical education at the University of Manitoba (MD/87, MSc/03) and has been employed by the University since 1987. She is currently an Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Head of Ongomiizwin – Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing and Vice-Dean, Indigenous Health, all in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. She also is Provincial Lead, Indigenous Health at Shared Health.
Dr. Cook has focused on Indigenous Health as a priority in her career. She practiced as a family physician in remote northern nursing stations for several years before focusing on public health practice, and more recently health administration and management. She has taken a leadership and operational role in the development and implementation of Indigenous Health programs and services that focus on addressing the gaps and barriers to equitable access of quality health care for Indigenous People in Manitoba. At Shared Health, Dr. Cook is working on an Indigenous Partnership Framework and the development of a health care system that recognizes and addresses the need for comprehensive quality health care for Indigenous People as close to home as possible. At the University, Dr. Cook took a leadership role in the creation of Ongomiizwin – the Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, officially approved by Senate in 2017.
Dr. Cook serves on several national boards and committees, and has received many national and local awards, including the Dr. Thomas Dignan Award for Indigenous Health from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; the WXN Top 100 Women in Canada in 2017; the Health Administration Award from Doctors Manitoba and the May Cohen Award from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC).
Dr. Cook has been a strong contributor to the University of Manitoba, both within her home faculty and across the University. Her insight has been widely sought-after by governments, boards and agencies, and she has excelled as a leader, an advisor and a collaborator. She brings this stellar record to this new and important role, as well as her deep commitment both to the community and to the University of Manitoba.
Please join me in extending congratulations to Dr. Cook on her appointment as Vice-President (Indigenous). My colleagues on the University’s leadership team and I are extremely pleased that she will be bringing her perspectives and expertise to our shared work, and we look forward to working with her.