Two Northern Ontario School of Medicine students have been honoured for their commitment to Indigenous Communities.

Fourth-year medical students Alison Lewis and Mélanie-Rose Frappier are the inaugural recipients of the CIBC Indigenous Learner Leadership Award. The award celebrates Indigenous students at NOSM who “demonstrate exceptional leadership and mentorship within the school and community.”

The award comes with a grant of $20,000, and a further $3,750 for professional development, as well as membership to the school’s Indigenous Reference Group and Indigenous Health Education Committee.

Lewis and Frappier are both Métis, with Frappier also identifying as Francophone. Lewis says she was surprised to receive the award, and that she’s glad that her work in preparing Indigenous applicants for entrance interviews could make a difference.

“To help improve health disparities among Indigenous people in Northern Ontario, I think the first step is increasing the number of Indigenous students,” says Lewis. “That will ultimately lead to more Indigenous physicians.”

Lewis says she plans to use the award money for tuition, as well as to travel to medical conferences to develop as a professional. After graduation, she hopes to stay in Northwestern Ontario to practice family medicine and obstetrics.

In the meantime, she says she hopes she can make a difference as a member of the two committees.

“It gives Indigenous students a voice and a place to advocate for improvement and change, and more support for Indigenous students” says Lewis. “I think having this award and the opportunity to be part of these committees is very exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what positive changes we can make.”