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Alberta physician to become first indigenous president-elect of CMA

Grande Prairie physician Dr. Alika Lafontaine has been voted to be the 2021 president-elect nominee of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

Born and raised on Treaty 4 Territory in southern Saskatchewan, Lafontaine has Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander roots and will be the first indigenous nominee for CMA leadership.

Dr. Lafontaine beat out four other candidates, including Dr. Vishal Bhella, Dr. Michael Giuffre, Dr. Noel Grisdale and Dr. James Makokis, in an electronic election that took place mid-February.

His nomination is set to be confirmed by the CMA general council in August, after which Dr. Lafontaine will serve as president-elect until August 2022. EverythingGP reports that Dr. Lafontaine "has used his voice to promote the issues of healthy working conditions, the physician social contract and the creation of a culturally safe health system. Among the actions he emphasized was achieving national licensure, an important step in preparing Canadian physicians for future health care crises. In the statement, he also added he wants to promote equality for all who work in the healthcare system."

“It’s also time to eliminate racism, sexism, ableism, classism and all other ‘-isms’ that permeate health system culture,” Lafontaine said in an official statement. Dr. Lafontaine's prior accolades include being a co-leader of the Indigenous Health Alliance, a health amelioration project involving 150 First Nations and several national health organizations, in addition to holding other respected positions in the medical community. He holds positions in Alberta Health Services, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.

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