Canadian Medical Association's first Indigenous president preparing to make change

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Dr. Alika Lafontaine, an anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alta., is the incoming president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association. (Submitted by Dr. Alika Lafontaine - image credit)
Dr. Alika Lafontaine, an anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alta., is the incoming president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association. (Submitted by Dr. Alika Lafontaine - image credit)

The first Indigenous president-elect of the Canadian Medical Association is hoping to change the culture of medicine in Canada.

Dr. Alika Lafontaine grew up on Treaty 4 territory in southern Saskatchewan. He is of Cree, Anishinaabe, Métis and Pacific Islander ancestry.

Lafontaine is now working an anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alta. He wants to improve health-care accessibility for Indigenous people.

"We need to have Indigenous patients at the table when it comes to designing care," said Fontaine.

"Having patient voices at the table is really important to make sure that the care that we provide is the care that they actually need," he said.

He also said he is excited to help create a new medical experience for both patients and physicians.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action includes an increase in the number of Indigenous people working in the health care profession. The 2016 census reports that less than one per cent of specialists and general practitioners in Canada Identify as Indigenous.

However, Indigenous people make up more than 4.5 per cent of the population.

Lafontaine will serve as the CMA president from 2022 to 2023.

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