Conversions and Erasures: Colonial Ontologies in Canadian Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Integration Policies
In Canada, approximately 75% of the population use some form of Traditional, Complementary and Medicine (TCAM). One of the responses to the widespread use of TCAM in Canada is that an increasing number of medical schools are including TCAM in their undergraduate curriculum so that physicians can oversee its use. However, the nature of this integration, and the ways that integration may influence TCAM practices remain under examined.
This paper critically examines the integration of TCAM in undergraduate biomedical education in Canada. A qualitative thematic analysis, guided by a anti-colonial theoretical framework, was employed to critically assess thematic continuities within TCAM policy related documents (N=140) from the World Bank, the WHO, Health Canada, and curriculum materials from a Health Canada endorsed project seeking to facilitate and standardize TCAM curriculum in in undergraduate medical education.
This preliminary study suggests that there are ontological parallels to the colonial era conversion of Indigenous medicine evoked in the contemporary integration of TCAM into biomedical education, elicited through a call for the surveillance, standardization and regulation of TCAM within a biomedical paradigm.
Within a anti-colonial framework the integration of TCAM practices into biomedical settings, such as undergraduate medical curriculum, may be viewed as part of an entrenched pattern of indigenous knowledge and worldview expropriation, homogenization, and in some cases even erasure.