Indigenous Health Council (IHC) Report
Shekon Sewakwekon / Aaniin / Boozhoo (Greetings to All)
As Tradition is respected, all of our efforts begin with acknowledgement to the People, to all of Creation and to the Creator for the role we are honoured to play, in the work we do.
The IHC is a committed Council of individuals with focus to ensure inclusiveness of Indigenous voice and provide a forum for interconnected services and knowledge sharing for the Indigenous community of Kingston and surrounding area.
It has been a year of forward motion for the IHC; new initiatives have been started, and adaptations have been made to the Council since this time in 2020. It honours the IHC members to share our story of the past year.
Incorporation as “Indigenous Wellness Council”
Our consensus is that this new name is holistic, and better represents the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and relational components of wellbeing. Legally incorporating as a provincial not-for-profit means that we can independently raise and manage funds, create more formal partnerships, grow to continue providing cultural guidance to organizations outside KCHC, and advocate for Indigenous peoples throughout the region. Our gratitude goes out to KCHC for its support in hiring a lawyer working toward guiding this effort.
As is customary to our way of being, adaptations have been necessary in light of the pandemic. We have moved our meetings online and continue working hard to keep things moving, while our normal continues to change by the day.
From the security person that came outside to welcome me, to each person after that, everyone I interacted with was so welcoming and supportive. Even though we all wore a mask, I knew each of them had a friendly smile for me.- Weller Ave. vaccine recipient
“We welcomed consultation with KFL&A Public Health on the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations.”
Our input included:
- ideal physical spaces for vaccination clinics for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples
- communication strategy to ensure that Public Health messaging was relevant and well-distributed
- working together to put the call-out for registration at vaccination clinics
- where possible utilizing our Indigenous Community Development Worker to welcome and direct people at the vaccination clinic
- and data collection for ongoing communication.
“It has been described as “a beautifully crafted partnership.”
Ontario Health Team
The IHC’s history in working with the Local Health Integration Network has ensured that an Indigenous voice Is present during the transition to OHT. The goal is to improve service to local Indigenous communities. Kate Brant and Laurel Claus-Johnson are Grandmothers at key tables ensuring the “heart” is well represented in decision-making. We will be included in the Service Accountability Agreements.
Currently, the IHC is involved in various research projects
seeks to address child poverty and identify participant families
will mobilize Indigenous knowledge to decision-makers in Kingston to affect engagement and planning
Serving as Advocacy
for health care access, grants availability and access, Indigenous representation on committees, COVID-19 Response Efforts,
Resilience Research Project
which is community action-based
a Queen’s University-based study looking to better understand Emergency Department experiences of several groups including Indigenous people.
Council members with Community, presented at the Chiefs of Ontario Health Forum on “Social/Emotional Impacts of COVID - Service Interruptions, Gaps and System Gaps.”
We are excited to highlight Dr Amrita Roy in her successful receipt of a Science and Humanities $25K grant that will aid the formal development of IHC action planning and projection of IHC activities.
The IHC will continue to welcome research efforts and queries to advance Indigenous wellness.
Indigenous Development Worker
This long-anticipated permanent status reflects KCHC’s commitment to this critical work. Kate Brant works diligently for the people in referring, teaching, educating, and assisting in meeting the needs of our Indigenous community. We are honoured by her work.
Kate will be working with the Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team to revive the community based Blood Pressure Clinic – a successful endeavor, delivered by Indigenous Community members and recognized by Hypertension Canada and the Regional Stroke Network as “a model for working with Indigenous communities.”
The IHC continues to build relationships, most recently with the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s University, as well as holding a seat at the Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team’s Governance Circle.
The City of Kingston – Engage for Change
effort to engage the Indigenous Community for recommendations;
Kingston – creating Indigenous Therapist position;
KFL&A Public Health
developed a land acknowledgement statement: seeking their own on-site space for smudge; input for Health Equity Primer definitions document; Culturally sensitive roll-out for COVID vaccine clinics. We are grateful for the ongoing secretarial support they provide to us.
permanent full-time Indigenous Community Development worker; Indigenous Community needs assessment; seeking smudge space indoors; support of our Community Sweat Lodge, and ongoing support for IHC growth and, inclusion in the KCHC annual report.
Ontario Health Teams
Indigenous voice at the decision making tables
Knowledge sharers at the IHC Table:
- KFL&A Public Health
- Vascular Health and Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle
- Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Team (IIPCT – based Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory)
- Palliative and Cancer Care - Indigenous Patient Navigator for the South East Cancer Centre of Ontario
- Journeying Together (Language Acquisition Playgroup)
- Queen’s University, and Kingston Health Sciences Professors and Researchers
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
- Ontario Native Women’s Association (Napanee Location)
- Ardoch Algonquin FN
- Street Health Centre
Guests 2020-21 year:
Dr. Imaan Bayoumi
- Family Physician, Clinician Researcher, Assistant Professor, Research Collaboration, Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University
- Algonquin, Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin FN, PhD (c), RD, Queen’s University, SSHRC project researcher
Terri Lynn Brennan
- Mohawk, Inclusive Voices & Office of Indigenous Initiatives, Queen’s University
Dr. Eva Purkey
- Staff Physician, Director of Global Health/Health Equity program, Associate Research Director at the Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University
Dr. Susan Bartels
- Kingston-based Emergency Department physician, Public Health Researcher, Queen’s University
- MD candidate, researcher with Dr. Bartels
- Kahnawake Mohawk, Nursing Research Project
- Anishinaabe, BA, Queen’s University
Laurel Claus Johnson
- Co-Chair, Six Nations Mohawk, BA
- Co-Chair, Anishinaabe/French, Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, Past Chief, Head of Family, BA Hon, BEd
- Recorder, Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Health
- Anishinaabe, Curve Lake First Nation, Diabetes Wellness Worker, Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle, Indigenous Research Associate, Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University
- Algonquin/Ojibwe, Cancer Care South East Region Indigenous Navigator
- Mohawk, Knowledge Carrier, Drum Carrier, Supporting Smith Falls and Perth communities
- Bonnechere Algonquin FN, Co-founder Indigenous Family Circle, Parent Lead on Indigenous Education Advisory Council, Limestone District School Board
- Ontario Native Women’s Association, Indigenous Healthy Babies Healthy Children – Home Visitor
- Tyendinaga Mohawk, MSc-Family Nurse Practitioner, retired, BScN, PHCP
- RN, MEd, Executive Director, Maltby Centre
- Senior Manager, Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Health Care Team, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
- Director Regional Services & Partnerships, NACHC
- Tyendinega Mohawk, Indigenous Community Development Worker KCHC
Dr. Amrita Roy
- Family Physician, Clinician-scientist engaged in teaching and health research along with patient care, Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University, SSHRC project lead, COVID-19 project lead
- MA, Director, Family & Community Health Division, KFL&A Public Health
- Program Manager, Family & Community Health Division, KFL&A Public Health
Terri Lynn Asselstine
- Community Outreach worker at Kingston Community Health Centres
- Kingston Urban Aboriginal Community, IHC member. On Leave.
- Algonquin, IHC member. On Leave.
Kate Brant, Indigenous Community Development Worker
Since the opening of the vaccination clinic at KCHC’s Weller site, I have been present every day, to welcome people and offer information and connection for the Indigenous community. It has been such a rewarding experience for me, and the huge positive response tells me that that feeling is mutual. So far, I have handed out more than 500 business cards, and have collected many email addresses from people who are really seeking to engage and connect with Indigenous teachings, songs, recipes and programs.
I have been so happy to hear the stories of the people I meet. Families have told me they are happy to hear of the partnership and consultation between KFL&A Public Health and the Indigenous Wellness Council (formerly Indigenous Health Council) throughout the vaccine roll-out. They love to hear that Public Health listened when we told them that if they want to look after our families, they have to look after our whole households. This resulted in vaccines becoming available for non-Indigenous people who share housing with Indigenous people.
I have met some people who have been timid and not sure if they belonged, people who don’t know if they are considered Indigenous and this is such a wonderful opportunity to talk with them. I tell them, if your grandmother is Indigenous, so are you. Even with only two drops of Indigenous blood, you are likely to have at least one chronic disease by the time you are in your 20s, and the trauma of your ancestors is in your DNA. You are Indigenous.
People have been so happy to have the reassurance of an Indigenous Grandmother on-site, and I am so happy to provide that sense of comfort and belonging. I’m a kid that grew up without status, without anything, due to the Canadian Enfranchisement Legislation (which meant giving up rights as an Indigenous person in order to receive full Canadian citizenship). This meant that even though Tyendinaga was just a stone’s throw away, I had to attend the white school in Deseronto from Grade 1 to 8, where there were only two brown families in attendance, and I never felt safe or welcome.
My experience means that I know what it is like to not feel like enough, or like you belong. So when I make connections with people looking for that, I have great empathy with them, and know that this is my purpose for being here, and that I have done my job. One clinic attendee said it best when she returned to bring in seven more people: “Grandma Kate is here. She will take care of you.”
To me, as a Katarokwi Indigenous community member, the most important person during my visit was Kate Brant. As a beloved auntie in our community, she made me feel so comfortable and welcomed. In what could have been a stressful time, knowing she was there made me comfortable and proud to know your organization supports our community. That small gift of her being there made this Anishinaabe man feel so overwhelmed, I actually started to cry a happy cry. Miigwech, nyawen'ko:wa, thank you for all your staff and everything your organization does for all of Katarokwi/Kingston all the time, not just during COVID-19.- COVID Vaccine Clinic attendee
Programs & Services