Our Indigenization Journey

art by Luke Swinson
Our Indigenization Journey

Illustration by Luke Swinson, a visual artist with Anishinaabe roots from Kitchener, Ontario. Learn more about Luke's vision for this piece by reading his artist's statement.

Our journey is guided by our:

-  Commitment to embracing the truth of Canada’s history as the first step toward reconciliation.

Humility, recognizing that our journey has just begun with much more road ahead than behind us.

Resolve to collaborate with Indigenous leaders, communities, practitioners and patients so that current and future pharmacists are positioned to provide the culturally-informed and safe care all patients deserve. 

The following four areas are signposts on our path.    


We have modified our Admissions processes to welcome more Indigenous learners and are working with Indigenous leadership at the university to ensure that we support learners once they join us. We will work with Indigenous community leaders to begin educating elementary and secondary school students about the contribution pharmacists can make and the exciting opportunities that exist for graduates of our programs. 


“Nothing about us without us” informs everything we do.  It is critical then that we attract Indigenous scholars and staff members to help us understand how to decolonize how we learn, work and practice.   Indigenous leadership at the university will guide us to ensure our hiring and management processes are inclusive and equitable and our workplace is welcoming and safe.    


“Nothing about us without us” informs everything we do.  It is critical then that we attract Indigenous scholars and staff members to help us understand how to decolonize how we learn, work and practice.   Indigenous leadership at the university will guide us to ensure our hiring and management processes are inclusive and equitable and our workplace is welcoming and safe.    


Recognizing that most of our faculty and staff were taught an inaccurate rendering of Canada’s history, it’s important that faculty and staff have opportunities to “unlearn” that teaching and overcome the biases that accompany it.  We have offered online training to all faculty and staff and continue to provide ongoing education through a variety of online and in-person learning programs. 

Students and faculty attending events and visiting First Nation Communities

Our Journey So Far

harmacy Building
Indigenous Art
  1. 2023
    1. Board of Governors Indigenization Journey Presentation

      • Panel included Leslie Wexler, Elaine Lillie, Andrea Edginton, Celine Huab (current pharmacy resident and Rx2022 alum) and Breanna Quan (Rx2026).

      "We spoke to the journey and our curriculum, celebrated how far we have come with the acknowledgement that we are still, very much, a work in progress." - Andrea Edginton, Hallman Director

    2. Pharmacy partners with Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-Racist Pedagogies team to offer Culturally Safe Patient Care course

      • Culturally Safe Patient Care (PHARM230) is a mandatory second year course that includes online and in-person components and builds on Indigenous Foundations content offered in the first-year curriculum. The accompanying image is used throughout the online course.

      "Launching PHARM230 was a true collaborative effort. Pharmacy is forever grateful to the Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-Racist Pedagogies team for creating meaningful, accessible content and to the Centre for Extended Learning for providing an online learning environment that engages learners." - Elaine Lillie, Adjunct Assistant Professor and author of an Indigenous Initiatives strategy

Conference room
Expert and Acolyte seminar by Dr.Chase McMurren
Culutural Safety design
  1. 2022
    1. Project team assembled with representatives from the Centre for Extended Learning and Centre for Teaching Excellence to develop online learning modules for Indigenous content in first two years of Pharmacy program

    2. Decolonizing Evidence-Based Medicine Webinar

      • Dr. Jaris Swidrovich, Canada's first self-identified Indigenous faculty member in pharmacy and founder and co-chair of the Indigenous Pharmacy Professionals of Canada, speaks about decolonizing evidence-based medicine.

    3. Association for Faculties of Pharmacy awarded grant to provide equity/diversity/inclusion and Indigenous training

      • team to provide a suite of training and practice e-resources, aimed at improving equitable access to care.

    4. Leslie Wexler, Sr. Educational Developer, Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-Racist Pedagogies, selects Pharmacy as pilot for Indigenizing curriculum

      "Pharmacy’s strong record of relationship-building made it the leading candidate for a pilot for Indigenization of its curriculum through the Centre for Teaching Excellence.  The Pharmacy Indigenization project team is a group committed to innovating through trying new things and remaining willing to work through challenges and mistakes." – Leslie Wexler, Sr. Educational Developer, Indigenous Knowledges and Anti-Racist Pedagogies

    5. Indigenous Admissions Pathway & Recruitment updates

      • The School had 13 Indigenous applicants through the Indigenous Admissions Pathway to date.

Decolonizing evidence based medicine banner
  1. 2021
    1. Launch of Our Indigenization Journey webpage

    2. A Brief History of Colonialization, Intergenerational Trauma, and Genocide of Indigenous Peoples in Canada Webinar

      • Dr. Michael Dan offered brief history of the impacts of colonialism, genocide and intergenerational trauma for Indigenous peoples living in Canada.
      • Organized by Decolonizing UW Health Studies Working Group.

    3. Territorial Acknowledgments Webinar: What, Why, How – Practical Tips for your Classrooms and Meeting Spaces

      • Tammy Webster, registered band member of Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg, and inaugural Director, Equity for Let’s Talk Science led webinar.
      • Organized by the STEM Indigenization Community of Practice to help answer:
        • Why is it important to do land acknowledgements?
        • How to deliver a land acknowledgement in a meaningful, respectful way?
        • Where to go for authentic resources to help deliver the acknowledgement properly? 

    4. Moderated Session - Indigenous Initiatives across Canada’s Schools of Pharmacy: Practical tips to Aid Implementation

      • Conference of Pharmacy Education and Research Conference 2021.

    5. Pharmacy Council approves Cultural Safety in Patient Care course

    6. Additional experiential learning opportunities developed

    7. Secure educational funding for teaching initiative

      • The University of Waterloo STEM Indigenization Community of Practice received LITE grant funding for their project "Indigenous-accepted STEM instructor resources for Indigenization".

    8. Continue to deliver Indigenous-focused events like digital residential school tour

      "To settlers like myself who learned nothing of this history during my own education, it made it all very real…not something abstract that happened a long time ago in some far away place. This school continued to operate until fairly recently and is close to home." - Rosemary Killeen, Director, Distance Education and Continuing Professional Development, reflecting on the residential school tour

    9. Indigenous Admissions Pathway & Recruitment updates

      • Reimbursement of all fees associated with the application process.
      • Offering academic flexibility in admission criteria.
      • Office of Indigenous Relations involved in documentation verification and applicant interviews.

art by Luke Swinson
Webinar Poster
  1. 2020
    1. Join the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Community of Practice Indigenization

      • This group delivers their first event featuring Veselin Jungic talking about Math Catchers, a community-based program to engage First Nations children and youth in studying mathematics.

    2. Launch curriculum renewal project

    3. Indigenization Strategy for the School of Pharmacy unanimously approved at Pharmacy Council

    4. Introduce Indigenous Admissions Pathway

      • Created deliberate equitable admissions procedures to attract and support the future admission of Indigenous applicants to the PharmD program.
      • Indigenous Admission Pathway applicants are offered alternative options and flexibility for the various academic and non-academic admission criteria.

    5. Launch Indigenous history training for faculty and staff

      Often in health care, we talk about vulnerability and inequity. However, putting these issues in their historical context for Indigenous health is essential for us to move forward to tackle racism and inequity in health care. It is essential to Indigenize our training of pharmacists to have better health-care workers that serve patients." - Dr. Wasem Alsabbagh, Associate Professor, on the Four Seasons of Reconciliation training

    6. Jean Becker, Associate VP, Indigenous Relations, joins the Advisory Council to provide guidance to the Pharmacy team

    7. School releases a new strategic plan which identifies commitments to Indigenization

$ Seasons Logo
  1. 2019
    1. Developed Indigenization Strategy for the School of Pharmacy in collaboration with Indigenous and academic partners

      "I believe it is critically important that Indigenous youth see pharmacy as a profession where they can have a positive and meaningful impact on the health of their community.  We as a School are making strides towards improving the training that we provide to all our students so that they have the knowledge and skills to provide care to Indigenous peoples in a culturally appropriate manner." - David Edwards, former Hallman Director

    2. Begin delivering roster of Indigenous-focused events

    3. Collaborate on research about experiential learning opportunities

    4. Working with partners to develop experiential learning co-ops and rotation sites in Indigenous communities

    5. Develop Indigenous Working Group for School

Decolonization banner
A map of Manitoulin
  1. 2018
    1. Pharmacy hosts Canada's first Indigenous Doctor of Pharmacy, Dr. Jaris Swidrovich

      • Dr. Swidrovich, Canada's first self-identified First Nations Doctor of Pharmacy, guided the development of our Indigenization Strategy and presented to faculty, staff and students. A recording of his presentation continues to be used in our curriculum to inspire our students today.

    2. Form the Decolonizing UW Health Studies Working Group

      • The group includes members from the Schools of Pharmacy, Optometry and Vision Science, Public Health and Health Systems and Renison College School of Social Work.

    3. Begin establishing partnerships

      • With First Nations, Inuit and Métis health-care providers and community members.
      • With Pharmacy educators across Canada committed to Indigenization.
      • Within University of Waterloo and other academic Indigenization groups.

Dr. Jaris Swidrovich speaking to pharmacy students


Christine and coworkers arrive in Wapeka First Nation

“We hear about systemic racism in the classroom but it’s different to be able to appreciate the effects of it first-hand. My experiences in Sioux Lookout made me want to be the kind of pharmacist who provides equitable health care. At the hospital here, I have so many opportunities to do just that.”

- Christine Sorin, Rx2019, pharmacist in Sioux Lookout

Read about Christine's decision to move to the community after graduation.

Map of Ontario with location pins
We have learners in communities across Ontario and work hard to build partnerships in all environments, from urban to rural, hospital to community, and more.


Example resource developed with partners: the below AFPC portal is available to pharmacy educators across Canada and shares resources for Indigenization efforts in pharmacy education.

screenshot of AFPC resource portal

Want to get involved? Contact us!