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Statement from DLSPH Dean Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30/2021

Dear DLSPH Community,

Today, I hope we can all take some time for reflection as we mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

As a public health school with roots that stretch back more than a century, I believe we have a profound responsibility to engage with the Truth and Reconciliation process. Canadian public health has a long and painful history of prejudice, misunderstanding, stereotypes, harm, and above all, broken trust with Indigenous peoples. And without trust, public health is often useless or worse.

Everyone who graduates from or teaches at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health should understand that history – how it has followed Indigenous peoples into the present and done great harm. We are committed to doing better.

Today, I’m speaking for our School, but I’m also speaking as a person in a position of power, who can do something. On a personal level, I’m committing to furthering my understanding by taking Asst. Prof. Angela Mashford-Pringle’s New Respect Cultural Safety training as soon as it is offered this winter. And on a professional level, I am committing to supporting my colleagues and removing barriers to the establishment of a fuller Indigenous pedagogy and ontology.

We began this acceleration in July, with the appointment of Prof. Mashford-Pringle as Indigenous Health Lead. We will continue to expand our hiring and recruitment of Indigenous scholars and students, along with faculty and students focused on Indigenous health. We will offer more Indigenous courses led by Indigenous scholars and Elders, and we will work with faculty to support the integration of this teaching across our curriculum.

We’ll offer cultural safety training, access to Indigenous content, and support for integrating Indigenous worldviews into our curriculum.

We’ll seed the health care system with culturally competent professionals who will do better for and withIndigenous peoples.

Today, we continue our self-reflection on our power, privilege and positionality. On Saturday, we look to the future. That day, a group of Indigenous youth begins to restore native plants to the land on the McCaul side of our School, a powerful act of symbolism. One day soon, before even walking through the front doors of our building, our community and guests will know something about our values, our goals, and how, under the guidance of our Indigenous health leaders, we are learning to do better—and be better.

Below, I’m including some educational and arts-based resources for our community to explore to help us learn and grow on this day, and going forward. And if you can, please consider donating to or volunteering with an Indigenous-led organization, or connecting to Indigenous organizations on social media and helping to share their messages.


Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown