'A Tribe Called Med': Tight-knit group of Indigenous grads celebrate a major milestone


A special virtual ceremony at Western University in London, Ontario honoured over 60 Indigenous students from all programs. Four of the students are graduating from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry program:

  • Shanté Blackmore
  • Justine Fletcher
  • Erik Mandawe
  • Marcy Maracle

The four Indigenous students were introduced to each other by Cheyenne LaForme, an upper-year medical student. Cheyenne met them each separately and added them to the same group chat with the name: “A Tribe Called Med.” The group chat name was inspired by the former electronic band, A Tribe Called Red, now known as The Halluci Nation.

The four Indigenous students come from different areas of the country but were able to identify with each other through their shared experiences in medical school. The students were able to find some humour in their experiences and support each other to find healthy ways of coping with some of the more “grueling” aspects of medical school.

Speaking in an interview with CBC News, Erick Mandawe commented that "Through the process of going through Western-trained education, you're very aware of this practice of medicine and how it has a colonial background."

For the ceremony, the graduates wore special stoles which were given as gifts from the Western Indigenous Student Centre and made by Mohawk fashion designer Tammy Beauvais.

"The ceremony is really special," said Justine Fletcher in an interview with CBC News. "It supports the two-eyed seeing approach, honouring our Indigenous background but also acknowledging we are incorporating Western medicine as we go off on our next adventure."