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Med student eager to advance Aboriginal initiatives

[Steve Tresierra]
STeve Tresierra is one of three student representatives on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force. Getting involved in the task force, he says, has provided him with an opportunity to assist in the ongoing reconciliation process. (University Communications)

On March 21, the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force will present its final report with recommendations to the university community. The historical milestone will be marked with an event that day at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 5:30-7 pm. Leading up to and following the event, the Gazette is featuring profiles of Indigenous members of the TRC Task Force. Today, the focus is on Steve Tresierra, a second-year medical student and one of the task force's three student representatives.

Steve Tresierra is working to promote Aboriginal awareness and support for Aboriginal students at Queen’s. Being one of three student representatives on the university’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force has provided him with another opportunity to assist in the ongoing reconciliation process.

Currently in his second year at the School of Medicine, Mr. Tresierra first arrived at Queen’s for his undergraduate studies and played on the men’s varsity hockey team. However, after his second year of undergrad he transferred to UBC-Okanagan to be closer to the Whispering Pines Band and to re-establish his connection to his Indigenous heritage and the land. Mr. Tresierra returned to Queen’s after earning his Bachelor of Science.

“When I came back to Queen’s I wanted to be more involved with the Aboriginal community in Kingston and its surrounding area, so I signed up for various projects like the TRC Task Force,” he says. “The TRC Task Force seemed like a great way to help the university build on its existing Aboriginal programs and initiatives. I was already involved in many of the Aboriginal initiatives developed by the School of Medicine and wanted to know what was happening across campus.”

During his first year of medical school, he was appointed Local Officer of Indigenous Health for the Global Health Committee, providing him the opportunity to promote Aboriginal and Indigenous health in the curriculum. Mr. Tresierra was also part of a team that developed an online learning module, which focuses on the history and culture of Indigenous peoples. The module educates medical students using fictional stories of Indigenous patients they might have to treat while at the same time providing a better understanding of colonial impact, residential schools, and the effects of intergenerational trauma. First-year students also received cultural safety training facilitated by the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.

Access is another area of interest for Mr. Tresierra, who played an instrumental role in developing a mentorship program that supports for Aboriginal students through the application process.

“One of the things I did as the local officer along with another colleague, was we created a mentorship program that was designed for Aboriginal students who had applied to the Queen’s School of Medicine and had received an interview,” he says. “If they wanted to participate in the program, they would contact us and we would connect them with a current medical student so they could ask questions about the interviews, how to prepare and what to expect at Queen’s.”

As a member of the TRC Task Force, he wanted to build upon the foundation that has already been created at the university. The impact, he is sure, will be felt at the university and beyond.