International Symposium in Thunder Bay

EMNO/NOSM Rendez-vous 2012

Yesterday, I was in Thunder Bay to take part in the Rendez-vous 2012 International Symposium. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s (NOSM) 2012 Francophone Symposium was incorporated into this event.

Although I have never declined any invitation from NOSM, I have always been relatively hesitant to fully take part in its events as I was concerned that the Commissioner’s attendance could be considered as a tacit approval for this university not to offer any medicine courses in French in Northern Ontario. Well, not anymore.

Firstly, the excellence of international and national attendees (close to 850 delegates from over 43 countries including 110 representatives who attended the Francophone Symposium) reiterates the very unique role of NOSM as a training institute that respects social accountability values. The panellists in attendance reminded everyone that the community, including the Francophone community, actively takes part in all levels of governance, including the development of the curriculum. NOSM is a university where not only we train future health professionals but also agents of change.

What is also highly inspiring and motivating is to see the constant and positive progression of the acceptation of not only the French fact but also the Francophone culture, particularly in Northern Ontario, and its influence on the questions relating to health. Quite refreshing!

For instance, the learners’ society (the students!) accepted to create a group of interest on clinical services in French. This is quite something, even though it seems similar to the policy of small steps that we have known for a long time in Ontario’s Francophonie. Indeed, as 23% of students are Francophones, there is more and more awareness as to the important role that they play, especially when the interest of the patient and the Francophone community are at stake.

There has been interesting discussions on the increasing role that NOSM, other institutions in the health sector and the community could play at various levels. I can’t wait to know the follow-ups to this Symposium. There is more work to be done for NOSM but I am confident that the Francophone and Community Advisory Panel will encourage NOSM’s governance to take the decisions it must take to promote the well-being of the Northern Ontario’s Francophone community as a whole, and not only in Sudbury, Hearst or Thunder Bay.

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