The Collaborative Specialization in Aboriginal Health (CSAH) sits in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health under the leadership and support from the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health.

CSAH involves graduate units in the Faculties of Arts and Science, Medicine, and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. It is also in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Aboriginal Studies Program.

The main objective of the specialization is to provide training in Aboriginal health research and practice for graduate students at U of T, while enhancing mutually beneficial relationships with Aboriginal communities and organizations.


  • Provide training in Aboriginal health research and practice for graduate students at the master’s and doctoral levels;
  • Enhance the quality and breadth of multidisciplinary training by providing trainees with access to learning experiences that cut across existing academic disciplinary and administrative boundaries;
  • Offer students mentorship opportunities by committed and experienced faculty in Aboriginal health with a diversity of theoretical, substantial and methodological perspectives;
  • Increase the visibility of Aboriginal health within the U of T community;
  • Foster a network of Aboriginal health researchers, practitioners, and educators within U of T and beyond;
  • Prepare the next generation of health researchers, practitioners, and educators to work respectfully and effectively with Aboriginal communities and organizations;
  • Work in collaboration to create an environment within U of T which values the lived experiences, ethical principles, and world views of Aboriginal peoples and enhance U of T’s partnership with Aboriginal communities and organizations.

Added Value

The specialization will provide a focus for students interested in Aboriginal health to interact and learn from each other in a way that may not be available in their home departments or faculties. It will expose them to a broad scope of faculty expertise in terms of substantive content areas, geographical locations of research site, methodological approaches, and philosophical orientations. The interactions among students, and between students and faculty, will occur through the core courses, the research seminar series, and summer institutes. The latter two would not be available without the CSAH.

The opportunity for students to be placed in Aboriginal communities and service agencies for practicum training and field research will prepare them for future employment and other types of interactions, while benefiting directly such organizations.

Affiliated Faculties, Departments, and Core Faculty

Faculty of Arts and Science
Dan Sellen, Anthropology Email Profile
Kathi Wilson, Geography Email Profile (UTM)
Profile (Geography)
Faculty of Medicine
Anthony Hanley, Nutritional Sciences Email  Profile
Loraine Marrett, Institute of Medical Sciences Email Profile
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
Martin Cannon, Social Justice Education Email Profile
Jean-Paul Restoule, Leadership, Higher and Adult Education Email Profile
Suzanne Stewart, Human Development and Applied Psychology Email Profile
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
Janet Smylie, Epidemiology and Social & Behavioural Health Sciences Email Profile
Angela Mashford-Pringle, WBIIH Email Profile

Admission Requirements

All students must apply to and be accepted by both a home degree program and the collaborative specialization, and follow a program of studies acceptable to both. Students who have completed the CSAH at the master’s level will be eligible to apply for admission at the doctoral level. Admission decisions to the CSAH will be made by the Specialization Committee, which will include the specialization director and a representative of each of the participating units.

To reduce “application burden” among applicants, the CSAH will not create its own application form but will accept photocopies of application materials to the home graduate programs (including curriculum vitae, transcripts, and letters of reference).

In addition, all applicants to the CSAH (both master’s and doctoral) must submit a personal statement. The statement is a letter of no more than 3 pages in length describing relevant personal and/or professional experiences, a career plan, and motivation in seeking advanced training in Aboriginal health. The nature of any relationship with an Aboriginal community/organization that already exists or to be developed should also be described.

The CSAH does not prescribe a “preferred” academic background for applicants. It encourages diversity in academic disciplines and life experiences. While the specialization is open to all qualified applicants, Aboriginal students are particularly encouraged to apply, as the long term goal of the specialization is to increase capacity in health research among Aboriginal people.

Specialization Requirements

Completion of Specialization Requirements

All students enrolled in the CSAH must complete the requirements of the CSAH in addition to the requirements of their home degree program. The CSAH Director and/or Specialization Committee are responsible for certifying the completion of the CSAH requirements. The home graduate unit is solely responsible for the approval of the student’s home degree requirements.

Core Courses

All students in the CSAH must take ONE of the following core course(s):

Aboriginal Health (CHL 5421H)

The objective of this course is for the students to obtain a broader critical understanding of the pressing health challenges faced by Aboriginal people in Canada, including historical perspectives, the current burden of infectious and non-infectious diseases, and the need for culturally appropriate research and intervention strategies for addressing these challenges. The long-term goal is the development of skills to design projects which are conscious of community perspectives as well as being scientifically unique and innovative. Lecture topics include: social, political and historical context; epidemiologic transition; historical demography and epidemiology; health care; Aboriginal health systems/health governance; environmental contaminants; women’s and children’s mental health; Indigenous knowledge; urban Aboriginal health (3 hours/week).

Race, Indigenous Citizenship and Self- Determination: Decolonizing Perspectives (SES 1930H)

This course explores histories of racism, displacement and legal disenfranchisement that create citizenship injustices for Indigenous peoples in Canada. It aims to highlight a set of decolonizing perspectives on belonging and identity, to contest existing case law and policy, and to deconstruct the normative discourses of law, liberalism and cultural representation that govern and shape current nation-to-nation relationships between Ongwehoweh (real people) and colonial-settler governments. The course is centered on exploring the possibilities, challenges and contradictions raised by resurgence strategies and reparation involving citizenship injustice from an anti-racist, anti-colonial and Indigenous-centered perspective.

Reading Course

We also accept a reading course/course offered by a core faculty member of the CPHA in lieu of the listed courses.


If a student is doing a thesis during their degree program, a master’s or doctoral thesis must deal with an Aboriginal health topic. Thesis work will be supervised, evaluated and approved according to the practices of the home graduate department. At least one member of the student’s thesis committee should be a core faculty member of the CPAH.

Common Learning Experience for both Master’s and Doctoral Programs:

During the course of their master’s or doctoral program, students must participate in BOTH of the following educational activities:

Research seminar series – held monthly during the academic year, non-credit, but required attendance for at least the equivalent of one academic year within the duration of the graduate program. This will feature faculty members, invited speakers, and students presenting results of completed projects, progress reports of on-going projects, plans for future research, and overviews, current concepts and controversies in selected topics. Attendance may be via teleconferencing where such facilities exist.

Presentation of student’s work related to Aboriginal health – During the course of their degree program. Students must present some aspect of their work that relates to Aboriginal health at a workshop, conference, or within the research seminar series.

It is the objective of the CPAH to enrich the learning experience without unduly extending the duration of students’ graduate education. It is anticipated that most competencies will be completed as part of a student’s home program.


Specialization Director

Angela Mashford-Pringle, PhD
Senior Research Associate, Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health
Director, Collaborative Specialization in Aboriginal Health
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
University of Toronto
155 College Street, 4th floor
Toronto, ON M5T 3M7