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Stories

Shared Health Indigenous Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples through the advancement of priority initiatives, and expanded awareness, access, and knowledge of Indigenous health Services across Manitoba.

As part of our work to build awareness, we are proud to share these stories featuring Indigenous leaders, health-care workers and community members working towards improving equity, diversity and access across Manitoba’s health-care landscape.

Ann Thomas

Ann Thomas

The legacy of Manitoba nursing can be found in the story of Ann Thomas Callahan RN, BA, MA, Wapiskisiw Piyésís Iskwéw (White Birdwoman).

As the first Indigenous nurse to work at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, Ann spent her career making important contributions and critical improvements to Manitoba’s health system, including work that helped to train a new generation of nurses.

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Joyce Noonen

Joyce Noonen

Joyce Noonen has a keen understanding of the past and a sharp eye on the future.

Born in the remote northern community of God’s Lake Narrows, Noonen spent the early years of her life immersed in the traditional Cree language and customs – knowledge that she now spends her time preserving and passing along to younger generations as part of her work at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC).

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Martha Baker

Martha Baker

Martha Baker is of Cree descent. She traces her journey to Winnipeg back from where she was born in the small northern community of South Indian Lake, Manitoba. This is where she learned to speak Cree – a gift she now uses to support Indigenous patients seeking health services at Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg.

“I actually left northern Manitoba to pursue studies at university heading towards a career in education,” said Martha.  “But when I was recruited into health care, I saw the opportunity to be a voice for Indigenous people, especially those who come from northern communities. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘now this is interesting’.”

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Churchill’s Warrior Caregiver Program

The community of Churchill, Manitoba has recently emerged from winter, a season marked with intense cold and prolonged darkness when the sun – at times – is only visible for six hours a day. Local residents, human and animal alike, have spent the past several months surviving – and thriving – in this remote northern town along the southwestern shore of Hudson Bay.

In this community of less than 1,000 people, where access in and out requires a two-hour flight or a 48-hour train ride, isolation can be a very real phenomenon. Amid this rugged wilderness, survival and connection rely upon a combination of innovation and technology as well as traditional life skills developed over the centuries that Churchill has served as a meeting place.

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Annabelle Anderson

Annabelle Anderson

I was born and raised in Churchill, Manitoba – but my people are not from here. My mother is Sayisi Dene from Duck Lake, Manitoba. She – and our people – were relocated to Churchill in the 1950s by the Canadian government. My mother was placed in a residential school, which nearly destroyed our culture and way of life. Today many of my people live in Tadoule Lake because Churchill does not always feel like a welcoming place to us. These memories and experiences – and those of my mother, my people – have molded me into someone who can never sit still. I am a doer. I feel the constant need to help anyone and everyone which is what lead me to working in health care.

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Dagan Amyot

Dagan Amyot

It’s shift change at Portage District General Hospital (PDGH), and murmurings of “morning” are heard throughout the halls as staff and patients start their days. In the rehabilitation unit, a cheerful “good morning!” rings from someone with a demeanour as bright as their scrubs.

For Dagan Aymont, a health care aide at PDGH, that bright tone is as intentional as his wardrobe.

“I try to start every day with positivity. I notice many people in healthcare say ‘morning,’ but I make sure to say ‘good morning’ with a bright tone,” said Dagan Aymont, a health care aide at PDGH.

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Charlene Lafreniere

Charlene Lafreniere

My connection to family and ceremony is a huge part of who I am. Knowing my identity and being really proud of it is something I have very intentionally passed down to my daughter. I want her to be very connected to where she comes from, whether through family connections, stories, traditions and ceremony or by developing an understanding of the land and all that it gives us.

Wherever I can create that space for culture and connection to spirit for her, I do. She loves ceremony, and she loves church-a reconciliation I am proud of. We talk about the medicine, we have a hand drum we share, and we sing together, a tradition that we have made all our own with the songs that we know by heart outside of ceremony.  

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