Queen’s appoints first chair of Indigenous health

Position possible after $1 million donation

Funnell was appointed on Sept. 18 during the opening of a new Indigenous gathering space on campus.

A warm breeze rolled across Tindall Field and blew through the wooden slats in the new Indigenous outdoor gathering space. Students, faculty, and donors gathered to welcome a new member of the Queen’s community.

Sarah Funnell (Minwanimad) was appointed the first Associate Dean, Indigenous Health and Chair, for the Faculty of Health Sciences on Sept. 18 during the welcome ceremony at the new Indigenous gathering space on campus.

In her new role, Funnell will support Indigenous students within the faculty and establish the new Office of Indigenous Health, promoting Indigenous ways of knowing in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“I think the most important part of my role is to understand that I serve others,’ Funnell said in an interview with The Journal.

Funnell heard whisperings about the position, and when it was created, she decided to apply. Previously, Funnell was the Associate Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health, working on the City’s pandemic response, particularly within Indigenous communities.

“If I can meet with every single student, Indigenous students, and hear what their experiences are like, I think that would be a good start,” Funnell said.

Funnell completed her medical degree in the Indigenous medical program, formerly known as the Aboriginal Medical Program, at the University of Ottawa and is a founding member of the National Consortium for Indigenous Medical Education. After earning her MSc in Epidemiology, her research focussed on Indigenous population health and data governance, according to a biography written by Queen’s Health Sciences.

Funnell’s Algonquin name, Minwanimad, was given to her by her great-aunt, it means pleasant breeze. She grew up among the Mississaugas of Alderville First Nation, not far from Kingston, and is a band member of the Algonquin band Kitigan Zibi.

The position was made possible through a $1 million donation by Nancy Tatham, ArtSci ’86, and ArtSci ’00, and her partner Donna Henderson, who are activists in the Kingston community as well as long-time benefactors of Queen’s.

“We all who are lucky enough, fortunate enough, to live on these lands have a responsibility toward truth and reconciliation,” Tatham said in an interview with The Journal.

Tatham first heard about the Chair position at a Dean’s Advisory Council meeting from Jane Philpott, dean of health sciences. Tatham hopes the position will lead to more diversity in medical practice.

“To be a good practitioner you have to understand diversity, you feel to be able to provide good care,” Tatham said.

The position has been funded for five years by Tatham’s donation. Funnell who is excited by the welcoming she felt at Queen’s, despite it being an “ancient, colonial, academic institution,” will work closely with Colleen Davison, associate dean (equity and social accountability).

“I’m most excited about how welcoming everyone has been and it shows people are open to making change or considering different ways of doing things and incorporating Indigenous culture in the spaces that we occupy,” Funnell said.

—With files from Meghrig Milkon


associate dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Indigenous

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