/ Stories

Métis Health Gathering offers powerful opportunity to share and learn


Metis health gathering group sit in circle
The event’s participants in the closing circle to mark the end of the day. Photo credit: Métis Nation of BC

On September 15, Northern Health (NH) employees from various program areas attended the Ta Saantii Mamawapowuk (Métis Health Gathering) at the House of Ancestors in Prince George.

Hosted by the Métis Nation of BC’s (MNBC) Ministry of Health, the gathering was an opportunity for NH employees to learn more about Métis history, culture, and identity. Attendees also learned about MNBC’s health and wellness priorities and health resources and programs available to Métis citizens in Northern BC.

“I found the Métis event very enriching and informative. I appreciated the knowledge and sharing from the presenters and learned so much about Métis people and culture,” said Shar McCrory, Communications Lead for Medical Affairs at NH. “It was a very giving day, with so much exchange of stories that really felt special to me.”

Medicine bag
Attendees had the chance to make medicine bags; here’s a bag the author made for herself.

Small group discussions throughout the day allowed the more than 100 participants to reflect on many topics, including how NH can ensure services and programs are accessible and inclusive for Métis citizens.

“It was wonderful to see so many people from all levels of the organization dedicated to learning about how to help make health care more inclusive for those who experience barriers,” said Miya Fast, Communications Specialist for GoHealth BC at NH. “I want to share my appreciation for the NH Métis and First Nations staff who shared their stories and experiences so openly with their fellow coworkers during the breakout groups.”

“I went into the conference with very little knowledge of Métis culture and history and was blown away by the amount of information I learned over the course of the day,” Miya shared. “All the presenters were so knowledgeable, open to sharing their personal experiences, and above all, super friendly and wonderful to talk to during the discussion time.”

New NH Métis Engagement Liaison

During the last two years, the MNBC signed letters of understanding with the Province of BC, all regional health authorities and the Provincial Health Services Authority. The letters recognize the partner organizations’ common goals of “(a) equitable access to health services and (b) improved physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health and wellness outcomes for Métis people.”

As the Métis Engagement Liaison, a new position in NH’s Indigenous Health Department, Alexanne (Ally) Dick will help action the shared commitments and common goals outlined in the letter.

“NH has historically not held positions with a Métis-specific focus, so this new role is foundational to ensuring our work is distinctions-based and includes Métis voices,” Ally said.  

A major part of Ally’s work will be actioning the five-year NH-MNBC Métis Health and Wellness Plan. The plan has a range of goals under key priority areas including Métis-specific cultural safety and anti-Indigenous racism education and training, a Métis patient experience and complaints process, recruitment and retention, and much more.

Ally was inspired by the enthusiasm and openness of all those who attended the September 15 Health Gathering.

Graphic visualization
A visual artist recorded the discussions of the day. Photo credit: Métis Nation of BC

“It was powerful to share space with staff from many different teams across Northern Health who were eager to learn and collaboratively move through our learning journeys guided by Métis community members and leaders,” she said. “The day started with a powerful message that ‘health is a result of strong relationships.’ This was echoed with similar messages throughout the gathering around culture and community being foundational to the health of Métis people.”

"Hosting this event on the traditional lands of the Lheidli T'enneh and chosen home of the Prince George Métis Community Association was a true honour,” said Louis De Jaeger, Minister of Health, Métis Nation British Columbia. “It created a space for our community to connect, share our culture, and discuss Métis health and wellness with Northern Health staff. Grateful for these meaningful connections and the opportunity to learn and grow together!"