In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report, which included 94 Calls to Action. These Calls to Action offer direction on where systemic change is needed to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous Peoples.

Of particular relevance to the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO) is the section on health including Calls to Action 18-24. These parts of the document address the health disparities faced by Indigenous Peoples and acknowledge how poor health outcomes are linked to the history of colonization in Canada. Recommendations for how to begin addressing these gaps include increasing the number of Indigenous professionals working in healthcare.

The College recognized that the first step to “increasing the number of Indigenous professionals working in health care” (specifically occupational therapy), was to understand how many registrants identify as being Indigenous This would help to establish a baseline that could be monitored over time.  While the College is not directly involved in recruiting and educating future registrants, we are the only ones in Ontario in a position to count the number of Indigenous occupational therapists who might be working and practising here. In 2020, the College began asking registrants to self-identify if they are Indigenous. The data we collect could be shared in aggregate with universities, associations, the government and others to inform program development and initiatives. Also, through understanding the Indigenous representation in the profession, we can review our own processes and programs to reduce entry to practice barriers and improve practise resources that may not be meeting the unique needs of Indigenous occupational therapists.

Several of those that identified as Indigenous also expressed an interest in speaking with the College about their experiences as Indigenous occupational therapists and to discuss our Truth and Reconciliation activities.  A panel of registrants has been formed and consults with the College on projects in Quality Assurance and Practice.  This is helping the College to listen, learn, and incorporate Indigenous perspectives, values, and needs into the work we do. 

If you have any questions, please contact College CEO & Registrar Elinor Larney at 416-214-1177 x233 or