Media Releases

U of T’s Institute for Indigenous Health uniquely named to honour Canadians’ commitment to Indigenous Peoples

March 24, 2015

TORONTO, ON — A trans­for­ma­tive insti­tute aimed at cre­at­ing thriv­ing health in Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties will receive the name, Waake­bi­ness-Bryce Insti­tute for Indige­nous Health, on March 23 at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to. The Insti­tute — among the first of its kind in the world — was cre­at­ed at the Dal­la Lana School of Pub­lic Health in June 2014 with a $10-mil­lion gift com­mit­ment from Michael and Ami­ra Dan.

“Thanks to the Dan family’s gen­er­ous dona­tion, the Insti­tute will con­duct world-class research and aca­d­e­m­ic train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties tar­get­ed towards inno­v­a­tive health inter­ven­tions that con­tribute to thriv­ing Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties in Cana­da and across the world,” said Howard Hu, Dean of the Dal­la Lana School of Pub­lic Health.

“I’m pleased that the Institute’s name hon­ours both Indige­nous and non-Indige­nous names of   Cana­di­ans who have made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the health of all Cana­di­ans,” Hu con­tin­ued.

The Institute’s dual name has deep sig­nif­i­cance for the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to and for the Institute’s found­ing bene­fac­tor, Michael Dan. The name “Waake­bi­ness” means Radi­ant Thun­der­bird from the South in the Anishi­naabe­mowin lan­guage. It was giv­en to Dan by Kalvin Otter­tail, Midewin (med­i­cine man) of the Lac La Croix First Nations com­mu­ni­ty in 2012.

The name of “Bryce” pays trib­ute to Dr. Peter Hen­der­son Bryce, a Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to grad­u­ate who found­ed the Pub­lic Health Ser­vice of Ontario and served as Chief Med­ical Offi­cer with the Depart­ments of the Inte­ri­or and Indi­an Affairs from1904 to 1907. In 1907 he issued a report crit­i­ciz­ing pub­lic health stan­dards in the res­i­den­tial school sys­tem of West­ern Cana­da where 24 per cent of stu­dents died of com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­ease, pri­mar­i­ly Tuber­cu­lo­sis. The sta­tis­tics became pub­lic in 1922 when Bryce pub­lished, The Sto­ry of a Nation­al Crime: Being a Record of the Health Con­di­tions of the Indi­ans of Cana­da from 1904 to 1921.

“I’m tremen­dous­ly proud that this Insti­tute will pay trib­ute to my Indige­nous friends while rec­og­niz­ing Dr. Peter Bryce’s coura­geous attempt at sav­ing Indige­nous chil­dren from the rav­ages of Tuber­cu­lo­sis in the ear­ly part of the 20th cen­tu­ry,” said Michael Dan, also an hon­orary mem­ber of the Dal­la Lana School of Pub­lic Health Cam­paign Cab­i­net.

The Insti­tute will iden­ti­fy and cul­ti­vate part­ner­ships with Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, sup­port Indige­nous fac­ul­ty and trainees and pro­vide seed fund­ing to sup­port pilot projects. This work will be found­ed on respect­ful, sus­tain­able and equal part­ner­ships between Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to.

A nam­ing cer­e­mo­ny on March 23, coin­cid­ing with the Spring Equinox, with remarks by Howard Hu, Michael Dan, the Hon­ourable David Zim­mer, Min­is­ter of Abo­rig­i­nal Affairs, The Right Hon­ourable Paul Mar­tin, Jeff Read­ing, Inter­im Direc­tor of the Waake­bi­ness-Bryce Insti­tute for Indige­nous Health, Bryce fam­i­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Indige­nous elders and thought lead­ers cel­e­brat­ed the Institute’s name and high­light­ed its vision for cul­ti­vat­ing thriv­ing Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Nicole Bod­nar
Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Dal­la Lana School of Pub­lic Health | Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to