2021 Royal College Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award


The Royal College Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award was founded in 2014 in honour of Thomas Dignan, CM, OOnt, MD, co-chair of the Indigenous Health Committee of the Royal College. Dr. Dignan of Thunder Bay, Ontario, a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory is a tireless advocate for eradicating disparities in health outcomes and inequities in the quality of health care facing Indigenous people. He received his medical degree from McMaster University. Dr. Dignan is a former Royal College council member, co-founder of the Native Physicians Association of Canada and first president of the Native Nurses Association of Canada. Dr. Dignan has dedicated his life to improving the health of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, particularly drawing attention to issues of institutional racism. Dr. Dignan was invested as a member of the Order of Canada on September 4, 2019, for his dedication to the health and well-being of Indigenous communities as a primary care physician.

General Policies

  • The purpose of the Royal College Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award is to acknowledge and celebrate Canadian physicians or physicians-in-training who epitomize a zeal and devotion to Canadian Indigenous rights and the dogged pursuit of justice for Canada’s Indigenous people.
  • The Awards Committee of the Royal College, who selects the recipient annually at their fall meeting, may add to the list of nominations.
  • The Awards Committee may also conduct its own research regarding the proposed nominees.
  • Only one award recipient will be named in any given year; however, the award may not necessarily be bestowed annually.
  • Worthy nominees will have a complete understanding of the debilitating effects of institutionalized racism and oppression and will have taken action against them.
  • Nominees for this award will practise beyond medicine; they will embrace cultural safety and fully understand the importance of the social determinants of health so that all Indigenous people, wherever they live, enjoy full expression of Indigenous identity, prosperity, health and wellbeing.
  • Nominees will recognize and respect Indigenous knowledge and practices and espouse the Indigenous health values and principles purported by the Royal College.


  • The award may be bestowed upon Canadian physicians, residents or medical students who reflect the above description or upon those who have made such a contribution in the past.
  • Nominators will be asked to describe the nominee’s exceptional contribution, as well as to provide a curriculum vitae for the nominee and at least two letters of support. It is strongly preferred but not essential that at least one of the letters be from a Fellow of the Royal College.
  • Self-applications are ineligible.

Nomination Process

  • Open nomination - nominations will be widely solicited and may be submitted by both Fellows and non-Fellows of the Royal College.

Nomination Requirements

  • A letter summarizing the reasons for your nomination.
  • Two support letters (minimum) (it is strongly preferred but not essential that at least one of the letters be from a Fellow of the Royal College).
  • Curriculum vitae of the nominee.


  • The recipient will receive an award of $1,000, and will be presented with an engraved memento at a Royal College Annual Conference or other suitable event where Indigenous culture is recognized.
  • Travel and related expenses of the award winner and a companion will be paid in accordance with Royal College guidelines.

Please submit your application via our online platform – Royal College Dr. Thomas Dignan Indigenous Health Award.

Submission deadline
December 15, 2020. Late applications will not be considered and may not be submitted by email.

Questions about this award, please contact us via email awards@royalcollege.ca

Past Recipients