Zka’an Ni-Bmiwdoowin Gchi-Kinoomaadwinan

Zka’an Ni-Bmiwdoowin Gchi-Kinoomaadwinan

ZKA’AN NI-BMIWDOOWIN GCHI-KINOOMAADWINAN, Building the Fire, Walking with Medicine is a two-week program for Indigenous students in grades 9 and 10 with an interest in exploring healthcare opportunities. In collaboration with the University of Toronto’s Office of Health Professions Student Affairs and the Office of Indigenous Health, ZKA’AN NI-BMIWDOOWIN GCHI-KINOOMAADWINAN provided 18 youth with culturally safe and trauma-informed programming with opportunities to build long-lasting relationships from within the program. With greater exposure to Indigenous leadership, knowledges, governance systems and healing practices, participants were encouraged to reflect on the environment around them and were empowered to carve their own meaningful paths forward, walking with confidence, a greater sense of connection, purpose, and community.

This summer, ZNGBK programming will be held August 21st to September 1st, 2023, in person at the Centre for Wise Practices at WCH. Guided by Elder in Residence, Kawennanoron Cindy White, the program aims to nurture each student’s understanding of Health and Wellness including what it means with regards to self, family, community, and nationhood.

20 participants interested in exploring or pursuing a career in health, research and sciences and identify as First Nations, Inuit, Metis, as well as being currently in grades 9 and 10, will be chosen through an application process.

We requested the assistance of our Decision Making Council to provide us with a name in our ancestral language, so that we may go forward with the work in a good way, in a protected way. Our ancestors presented us with “Building the Fire, Walking with Medicine”, a way of acknowledging our future medical care professionals and the healing medicines they carry, the fires they will tend to, and the examples they will present to our future generations. Our goal is to provide these future leaders with the subsistence to keep their flames lit throughout their learning experiences. Anishnaabemowin translations were provided by language speakers and Elders from M’Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the summer of 2021 was our pilot year facilitated virtually. For the summer of 2022, this program will again be 2 weeks and continues to be a collaboration between the Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health (CWP-IH) at WCH, the Office of Health Professions Student Affairs, and the Office of Indigenous Health (both U of T). Engaging and exposing Indigenous youth (grades 9 & 10) to healthcare career opportunities at younger ages is a crucial component to effecting change for the future of Indigenous healthcare representation, approaches, and leadership.

With the goal of increasing Indigenous participation in healthcare professions, this innovative and dynamic program will provide youth with culturally safe and trauma-informed programming that includes land-based learning experiences and the opportunity to build relationships with trusted mentors. With greater exposure to Indigenous leadership and representation, youth will see their own knowledges, governance systems, and healing practices reflected in the environment around them.

The deadline to apply is July 14, 2023

  • Day 1: Hope
  • Day 2: Belonging
  • Day 3: Meaning
  • Day 4: Purpose
  • Day 5: Reflect/Present
  • Day 6: Play
  • Day 7: Land Based – Open Air Activity
  • Day 8: Land Based – Open Air Activity
  • Day 9: Belonging
  • Day 10: Meaning
  • Day 11: Purpose
  • Day 12: Reflect/Present
  • Day 13
  • Day 14: Ceremony/Feast

Download and fill out the application form and email it to indigenoushealth@wchospital.ca.

*If you are having difficulties filling the form, please make sure to download the file.

young girl holding a laptop box

Hailey, 14, with new laptop


My Name is Austin M. Chrisjohn, I am 14 years of age. I didn’t really have a favorite part of the ZNBGK program, I liked every thing about it, it was informative, fun and a crazy adventure. I don’t have a educational goal at this point in time, I am still trying to figure out my future but I know it will be in the Healthcare industry. The ZNBGK program has given me insight on the healthcare position, and has opened many doors for me and i can definitely see a healthcare position in my future.

Austin M. Chrisjohn, 14


child artwork of a bird flying over a rainbow. There are trees and flowers at the bottom of the page

Artwork provided by Gabriel, 14


I just wanted to say thank you so much for allowing me and the other youth the opportunity to participate in this program. I enjoyed learning from you and the speakers in the program. I really appreciate all you have done for us and all the hard work you put in. This has meant so much to me! I really appreciate the opportunity to learn about health with an Indigenous correlation. I learned so much from this program not only about health, but about my culture too. I haven’t heard too many teachings prior to this program, so I really appreciate the ones we were given. You are a very inspiring person, being able to balance this along with work along with the culture. I really admire. Thank you for showing me that this is possible



My name is Saige Pitawanakwat. I am fourteen years old. I am from Wikwemikong, but I am living in Toronto. I am a part of the turtle clan. This year, I took part in the ZNBGK program. My favourite part of this program was listening to the many speakers. I enjoyed the many stories they shared and really appreciated the teachings and knowledge they passed onto me. They all inspired me. My educational goals for the future are; completing high school, university, and medical school. I also want to strive for good marks. The ZNBGK program helped me affirm that healthcare is the field I would like to pursue. The program also helped me to learn about various professions I can pursue within the healthcare field. It showed me how traditional Indigenous teachings and practices are also significant to one’s health. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in the program.

Saige Pitawanakwat, 14