The College of Medicine is dedicated to responding to the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Report and work in a mutually beneficial and collaborative manner with the Indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan to define and address the present and emerging health needs in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous News


Indigenous Admissions Pathway

Through the College of Medicine Indigenous Admissions Pathway, Métis, Inuit and First Nations people can apply for admission to the Medical Doctor (MD) program of study. This Pathway is designed to support growth in the number of Indigenous people becoming doctors in Saskatchewan. Ten percent of the positions available in the MD degree program each year are specifically for Métis, Inuit and First Nations applicants.


Office of Vice Dean Indigenous Health

NEW: Indigenous Community Council

The Indigenous Community Council meets quarterly and is comprised of members of the Indigenous community who advise the Office of Vice Dean Indigenous Health (OVDIH) in relation to the span of work of the OVDIH, The OVDIH’s enduring commitment to authentic community engagement and sensitive cultural matters impacting the College of Medicine.

Meet the Indigenous Community Council

Marie-anne's headshot

Marie-anne Daywalker Pelletier

Marie-anne Daywalker Pelletier was born on April 15, 1954, in Regina Saskatchewan and is a member of Okanese First Nation. Marie-anne remains to this day, the longest-standing elected chief in Canadian history, serving from 1981 to 2020. It was Marie-anne’s dedication to community that gained her recognition as a leader, with her serving many times as a volunteer before taking on the role of ‘chief;’ a profession that was rarely represented by women at the time.

The importance of childcare and family have always been guiding pillars of Marie-anne’s work. Over the course of 39 years, Marie-anne was able to lay the groundwork for her community to achieve an unprecedented decrease in child apprehensions and the establishment of The Daywalker Home Fire Family Centre: A Centre dedicated to strengthening and reconnecting families. 

In recent years, Marie-anne has received recognition for her years of service: becoming a member of the Order of Canada in 2018 and being honoured with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2021. In 2020, her tenure as chief came to an end, allowing her more time to spend with family and to pursue passion projects. Today, you may catch her image on a Canada Post stamp that celebrates her as the trailblazing Indigenous leader she continues to be.

Robert wearing sunglasses

Robert Severight

Robert Severight is a proud member of Cote First Nation. Born to an Anishinaabe mother and a Yokutz father, Robert also has roots to the Tule River Yokuts Reservation in California. Robert is a loving husband of 27 years to his wife Shelley, and father of four; two daughters and two sons who sing and drum with him. He enjoys travelling to powwows and dancing Men’s Traditional, as well as hunting and sharing with his community and Elders.

His childhood consisted of learning traditional teachings, solidifying a life grounded in culture and ceremony in which Robert passionately leads today. He especially takes great pride in sharing traditional teachings and knowledge with the youth. Presently, Robert works as a Indigenous Cultural Coach for the Good Spirit School Division in Yorkton; working with over 24 schools to educate on matters including Indigenous people’s protocols. A meaningful component of Robert’s work is ensuring that these discussions go beyond acknowledging the past and looking ahead to the future with great hope and optimism.

As a member of the Advisory Council, Robert remains optimistic about the potential and impact that the Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness will have. Robert’s lived experience and struggles with the healthcare system is what informs his willingness to continue to advocate. He remains committed and driven by the principle of “healing in a good way and continuing to move forward.”

Charlene standing in a crowded street

Charlene Lavallee

Charlene Lavallee is a vibrant, strong Métis woman who originates from Leoville, SK. Charlene is the mother of four, a stepmother to one, and a grandparent to five girls and three boys. Charlene is the oldest of four siblings. She is married to her husband Ken of many years, and they reside in Batoche.

Ms. Lavallee has extensive experience, knowledge, and training in many of the social sciences, primarily in justice, career and employment counselling, human resource development and partnership endeavors and health. Charlene has worked in the public sector, Métis communities and organizations and First Nation reserves.

Charlene is currently the president and CEO of the Association of Metis, Non and Status Indians of Saskatchewan. In this role she advocates for those non affiliated, off reserve and southern Inuit. AMNSIS represents Indigenous from every category the Indian and government legislation has separated, AMNSIS represents kinship.

Leroy standing at a podium

Leroy Laliberte

Leroy Laliberte is a Metis Michif originally from the Northern Village of Beauval and now resides in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan with his wife Diana and their three beautiful daughters. Leroy is the Community Wellness Manager for Flying Dust First Nation. Leroy is also the Founder and Director of the Burn Youth Project/BURN Consulting. Leroy is the Vice President of the Northwest Friendship Centre’s Board. He is trained in Outreach, Crisis Management, MEMO Prevention, Project Management and is a Motivational Speaker.

He has helped develop and deliver powerful programming on challenging yet important topics such as suicide awareness and prevention, anger and emotions, positive youth development, healing, self-esteem, self-care, grief, and loss as well as motivational messaging for young people. Through the Burn Youth project, Leroy and his team of facilitators have hosted and led weekend retreats in First Nations and urban communities across Canada and into the United States.

One component that allows this all to happen is that Leroy walks in an understanding of life’s obstacles and chooses a clean life, though it was not always that way. His journey and teachings passed on by respected Elders enabled him to overcome great challenges brought on by substance abuse. He focuses on creating a healthy future for young people by modeling healthy behaviors while guiding them into positive behaviors and lifestyles.

Leroy is also a singer/songwriter and recording artist and has had the opportunity to share the stage with many award-winning aboriginal talents.

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Grant Whitstone

Grant Whitstone is a member of Onion Lake Cree Nation. Grant has spent his life in Onion Lake as an active member of the community, primarily dedicated to being an advocate in the areas of health and wellness, and child and family services. In Grant’s words, his focus rests “in the wellbeing of all human beings all over Turtle Island.”


The Office of Vice Dean Indigenous Health (OVDIH) is a unit within the Dean’s Office at the College of Medicine and will work closely with the Department of Indigenous Health & Wellness (DIHW).

The OVDIH will assist to set up and grow the department in a way that ensures objectives related to Indigenous health are met and sustained. The OVDIH will work in tandem with the DIHW and community partners to uplift Indigenous concepts, methodologies and pedagogies.

Indigenous-led establishment of partnerships through respectful community engagement and protocols, building access to networks of community partners and determining sustainable resource strategies will be the distinctive work of the OVDIH and DIHW.

Meet the OVDIH Team

Dr. Tootoosis head shot

Janet Tootoosis, BSc, MD, FCFP Vice Dean Indigenous Health

A Cree woman from Poundmaker Cree Nation and practicing family physician since 2001 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.  U of S College of Medicine, Clinical Associate Professor since 2008, owner/operator of North Battleford Medical Clinic Inc. Possesses an extensive history of active participation in health care delivery and medical education initiatives in the region and province.  Experience as an instructor and site director for the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine’s North Battleford Family Medicine Residency Training Program.  Served as the Director for Postgraduate Rural Education for the Department of Academic Family Medicine, U of S (2019-2022). Formal governance training and experience, Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) Board member (2014-2017) and the inaugural Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) Board member (2017 – 2021).  Most recently appointed as Vice Dean Indigenous Health, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan in October 2023, serving as Interim Vice Dean since June 2022.

Marianne's headshot

Marianne Bell - Manager, OVDIH

Marianne is a first-generation Canadian whose parents settled in Saskatchewan after emigrating from Holland.  She has lived most of her life in Saskatoon, on treaty 6 territory.  The majority of her administrative and project management career has been focused on enabling the work of Saskatchewan health care providers and physicians to deliver quality clinical care and medical education.   She is a lifelong learner, loves to geek out on technology, is a USask alumna and is passionate about supporting others in their personal growth and professional development journey.  This passion led her to transition her career from the health system to medical education in 2015 where she currently manages the Office of Vice Dean Indigenous Health and the implementation of the college’s new Department of Indigenous Health and Wellness (DIHW).   

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Harvey Thunderchild (“Wapistum” meaning “Whitehorse”), Cultural Coordinator, OVDIH

Harvey is a member of the Thunderchild Cree Nation situated 90 km’s north of North Battleford, SK. He was born and raised in his community by Elders and grew up learning Cree cultural practices & beliefs from his late Grandfather Ed Thunderchild and his late father, Victor Thunderchild, amongst other extended family members. He is a traditional man who believes in his own Cree culture and is involved with all cultural ceremonies; including the Cowboy Society (oskapewis society) that helps in assisting families with proper protocols in cultural services.

He currently promotes and provides cultural awareness and appropriate services for the people or families that need assistance. His influence is represented through his many connections across First Nations/ Urban/Rural communities throughout North America.

Harvey is an alumnus of the University of Saskatchewan 1983, and Algoma University College, Sault Ste Marie Ontario 1997.

Matreaca standing in a field of flowers

Matreaca Munro-Clerical Assistant, OVDIH

Matreaca (pronounced Ma-trace-ah) Munro was born and raised in Saskatoon, SK and is a member of Sapotaweyak Cree Nation. In 2022, she graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts Double Honours degree in Indigenous Studies and History. She has an extensive background in research, spending much of her undergrad assisting on projects centered on Indigenous history; with a special focus on decolonizing the dominant narratives that have and continue to influence Settler-Indigenous relations. Another passion ignited during her undergrad was her love of travel, partaking in two study abroad courses: Paris, France in 2017 and Melbourne, Australia in 2019. In July 2023, she joined the OVDIH as a Clerical Assistant, supporting the administrative aspects of the office and assisting the Vice Dean of Indigenous Health at the College of Medicine.

DSA-The Division of Social Accountability

In October 2023, the Division of Social Accountability (DSA) transitioned under the Office of Vice Dean Indigenous Health. The OVDIH and DSA team are committed to moving the vision of social accountability, EDI and anti-racism forward.  

Meet the DSA Team

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Natalya Mason-Community Engagement Specialist, DSA

Natalya Mason is the Community Engagement Specialist. She is a registered social worker who was born and raised in Saskatoon, SK. Natalya is a Black first-generation Canadian, and a settler on Treaty Six Territory. She has a background in psychology and social work, and holds an M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexualities Studies. Natalya is dedicated to social justice, anti-oppressive education, and reproductive rights. She is a queer feminist living in contradiction, committed to continuous learning and unlearning.

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Joanna Winichuk-Administrative Assistant, DSA

Joanna has worked with the Division of Social Accountability since 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of Regina as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree (Psychology) from the University of Saskatchewan. Joanna attended the Central Institute of Technology in Western Australia where she earned certificates in Public Relations and Business Management. Joanna enjoys working with like-minded people who are passionate about community health and is inspired everyday by all the hard work and dedication around the pursuit of health equity.

NEW: Indigenous Programming and Initiatives

Indigenous Programming and Initiatives is responsible for the recruitment, retention, and support of Indigenous students into Medicine, providing guidance throughout their medical education into practice. The office manages and creates comprehensive programming and events such as:

  • pre-admissions workshops
  • welcome events
  • Indigenous health booth at Indigenous celebration events
  • Offers Cree language classes and Indigenous Health Electives for all medical students.

Meet the Team

Val's headshot

Val Arnault-Pelletier- Senior Lead, Indigenous Initiatives and Programming

Val Arnault-Pelletier is a nehiyaw iskwew who situates herself from her mother’s community of Waterhen Lake Cree Nation, and her grandmother’s community of Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation.  She has worked at U of S Nursing and Medicine for 29+ years.  Val has a passion for working with First Nations and Metis students, families and communities.  She plays a strong role in advocacy, providing personal, social, and cultural supports for students in the College and beyond. She sits on several University of Saskatchewan committees including the Indigenous Advisory Circle, Indigenous Health Committee and the Health Sciences Indigenous Space and Visual Symbols Committee. She is also a strong proponent for First Nations and Metis cultural knowledge and inclusive of role models, Knowledge Keepers, and Cultural Advisors in her work.  She is passionate about community issues and over the years has dedicated her time to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, the Oskayak Daycare School Board, kidney transplant fundraising, and other community-based initiatives. She has a Metis husband, two adult children and a wee dog named Maggie.

miyo-maskihkíy Crest

miyo-maskihkíy is Plains Cree for Good Medicine

miyo-maskihkíy crest

Artist Dale Cheechoo designed the above crest for the College of Medicine in 2003, in accordance with local Cree teachings.

The following are represented within the crest:

Medicine Wheel
4 Directions and their Teachings
Balanced Lifestyle

Plains Cree
Women and Family
15 Teepee Teachings
The Teepee Lodge faces the South

Colors of the Teepee
Métis Sash Pattern and the Métis People

Eagle Feather

Sweet Grass

Represents knowledge in Greek Mythology – adapted by Western Medicine

Snake and Sweet Grass
Partnership of Both Worlds, Western and Aboriginal
Represents the Concept of Self-Purification
One must purify oneself before entering the lodge.
One must heal oneself before becoming a healer.

Harvest Moon