Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative (AHSI)

Next steps for the Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative

Beginning in April 2017 and building on the successes of the Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative (AHSI), the vital work of advancing student success will be expanded through the University’s commitment to enhancing the scope of Indigenous student access and success, and program development. As currently structured, the AHSI will wrap up on March 31, 2017 with exciting next steps planned.

Created in 2009, the AHSI was established in response to an acknowledged need to increase the educational interest and success of Indigenous peoples in the health sciences.1 Between 2009 and 2017, the AHSI advanced Indigenous student support at Dalhousie in a number of key areas:

  • Community outreach: regular visits and outreach activities with Indigenous communities across the Maritimes.
  • Pathway programs: Junior University which introduced junior high school students to careers in health through a one-week summer camp and the Aboriginal Health Sciences Success Program, a pilot transition year program.
  • Supporting Students: support to potential and current Indigenous students through individual mentoring and advocacy.
  • Curricular developments: embedded Indigenous content in existing course curricula, creation of a new course in the Faculty of Health Professions and the Medicine Wheel Speaker Series across the three health Faculties.
1Terms of Reference: Aboriginal Health Sciences Advisory Committee



Supported by three Faculties (Health Professions, Medicine and Dentistry) and the Provost’s Office, the AHSI program greatly expanded the range of supports for Indigenous students across the health Faculties while also contributing to broader awareness of Indigenous contexts and issues through informing curricular changes, helping to educate faculty and staff, and promoting more culturally diverse ways of working and learning.

In recognition of the impact of the AHSI’s programs and the need to advance our student-focused Indigenous initiatives beyond the health Faculties, in December 2016, Dalhousie committed to undertake a feasibility study exploring opportunities for a more collaborative model in Nova Scotia to enable access and support for Indigenous students interested in any field at the post-secondary level. In recognition of her work to date, Kara Paul, the Managing Director of the AHSI has been hired to conduct this important feasibility study.

The feasibility project will commence on April 1st, 2017 and will involve outreach to communities, and to colleagues and students across Nova Scotia’s post-secondary education sector.


Learn more about how AHSI helped shape Dalhousie’s engagement with Indigenous students and communities

Celebrating the Aboriginal Health Sciences Initiative as Dal looks toward province‑wide services for students


Need assistance?

Current and prospective students in the health faculties needing additional support are encouraged to connect with the following Dalhousie resources:

  • Current Students looking for academic or career guidance can contact the Aboriginal Student Centre.
  • Prospective students interested in finding out more about Dalhousie’s health and other programs can contact Christine Wilson (christine.wilson@dal.ca / 902-494-3753) or go online to book a campus tour. Please contact Joe MacEachern if you are interested specifically in Medicine.
  • Prospective students interested in attending a junior university summer camp, should check the Indigenous Health website regularly for news about new camps open to Indigenous youth.