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Get to know Horizon’s Indigenous Relations Coordinator

June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day to recognize, appreciate, respect, and celebrate First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of Canada.

Meet Aaron, a Wolastoqiyik woman from Sitansisk (St. Mary’s First Nation), who is Horizon’s Regional Indigenous Relations Coordinator, based in Fredericton and serving all of Horizon.

What led you to becoming Horizon’s Indigenous Relations Coordinator?

As an Indigenous registered nurse, I had the opportunity to work in different systems including First Nations homes and community care, medical bedside, and most recently in addiction and mental health at Horizon’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital. 

I’ve witnessed many health disparities of Indigenous people and the extra navigation often required of us. As I was working on my master’s, I studied systemic racism for Indigenous people, particularly in health care and I envisioned myself taking on a role to help my people, as well as my colleagues.

After I put it out to the universe that I wanted to take on a role transforming the health care system in a supportive way for Indigenous people, the Indigenous relations opportunity presented itself.

It was meant to be, so I applied and was the successful applicant. After seeing the many gaps that still exist, I genuinely want to try and make a difference.

Why do you love what you do?

My career has given me the opportunity to build strong relationships with Indigenous communities, who in turn provide me with the support and guidance I need to bring teachings to Horizon. I am proud to be a part of that team.

I get to hear stories of Indigenous patients receiving comfort through our programs whether it’s with smudging, being able to speak their language, or hearing about a newborn baby receiving their first braid of sweetgrass in our hospital. This has such a powerful impact.

Why is it important to take time to reflect on the importance of Indigenous Peoples Day?

It is important to acknowledge the role Indigenous identity plays in our health and wellbeing. Identity loss from colonization has led to many disparities and systemic barriers. For me, National Indigenous Peoples Day is a celebration of our resiliency and our strength.

I encourage everyone to learn and engage as much as they can when it comes to reconciliation, and the ongoing effects of colonization and the residential school system.

I also encourage everyone to take in some positive and fun engagements. Check out the powwow trail this summer, watch our dances, and hear our voices.

Woliwon, Aaron, and Happy National Indigenous Peoples Day!

Visit Horizon’s Indigenous Health page for more information and resources.

Additional resources:

As health care providers, allyship is important for all marginalized populations who may experience health inequities so we can learn how to recognize and close health care gaps. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Learn to identify the territory you are in by visiting https://native-land.ca/
  • Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation 94 calls to action  https://nctr.ca/
  • Learn from Indigenous voices and sources (Indigenous programming, movies, books, or podcasts)
  • Support Indigenous artwork and businesses
  • Attend open community events such as powwows. The 2022 schedule is now available