Queen’s graduate Peter Jones (a Mississauga Ojibwe also known as Kahkewaquonaby) is most famously known as North America’s first licensed doctor of Indigenous heritage.
As a doctor, he improved the health of people on reserves and reduced high rates of tuberculosis by promoting vaccination programs and advocating for public-health initiatives such as better waste-disposal practices and ensuring access to clean drinking water.
But the 1866 medical-school graduate’s impact went beyond the field of medicine as he advocated for the rights and overall health of Indigenous peoples.
Dr. Jones, who was twice elected Chief of the Mississauga Ojibway between 1874 and 1886, lobbied the federal government on behalf of Indigenous peoples for basic rights.
He was also appointed a Federal Indian Agent, a post usually reserved for non-Indigenous candidates, and was involved in consultations for the 1885 Electoral Franchise Act, which gave “Indian-status” men some voting rights without losing their status. To inform Indigenous peoples about their new voting rights, Dr. Jones published The Indian, the first Canadian journal for Indigenous peoples edited by an Indigenous person, from 1885-86.