May 18, 2022

Never give up. Always keep fighting. I got the chance to see what I can accomplish in the hospital system and every day I learn something new.

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.

The Churchill Health Centre provides care to the 831 residents of Churchill, the surrounding Indigenous communities, and some of Nunavut’s Kitikmeot Region. I began my career at the health centre almost 22 years ago as a housekeeper. It was – and is – hard work, but I showed up every day with a smile on my face. I know every corner of the hospital. I have cleaned each ward, the OR and I have done day shifts, night shifts, and weekends. One of the proudest moments of my career was when Churchill Health Centre was ranked the cleanest hospital in Manitoba.

It has been almost two years since I saw the job posting for a Stores Clerk position here at the health centre. I didn’t know if I qualified, but the doer in me thought “why not?” and applied. I got the job and, while it was a big learning curve, the doer in me was determined to succeed. I have learned computers, how to order, and how to handle all the hospital’s supplies, including everything from syringes and gauze to medical equipment getting shipped out for repairs.

I have been mentored by the Stores Supervisor, Jody Grosbrink. She’s taught me how to do everything. Her support has influenced how I now support and train other Indigenous and non-Indigenous women to work in our department. I know I still have a lot to learn, but every day I learn something new. Every day is different, and there is a lot to know, but I love it.

Churchill is a complicated place for many Indigenous people – but healing is happening. When Dene gatherings happen here, I always try to help out and get them supplies, and let the community know that I am here to support anything that they need. In recent years, when the gathering is taking place, I’ve noticed eagles soaring above – an important symbol of strength, courage and respect in our culture.

The Churchill Health Centre looks out onto Hudson Bay, and there is a big Inuksuk standing on the beach. At certain parts of the year, when I can see polar bears wandering on the bay’s frozen ice, it feels like home. I take pride in my work, and I am proud to be an Indigenous woman working in the hospital.

As part of International Women’s Day 2022, Shared Health is shining a light on just some of the many incredible women in health care who dedicate themselves to the health and wellbeing of Manitobans each and every day.

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