Aboriginal health careers online

New website encourages First Nations youth to become healers

Wayne Heide (right)
Robert Maytwayashing, Aboriginal Human Resources Development Officer from Interlake-Eastern RHA, speaks at the press conference launching a new Aboriginal health careers website.
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Manitoba Aboriginal Health Careers website

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2014

Manitoba has a new website designed to encourage Aboriginal people to consider a career in health care.

Launched late last month by Manitoba's Office of Rural & Northern Health, the website at is the first website of its kind in Canada.

"The Aboriginal population in rural and northern Manitoba is significant. We know that they are an important part of our current and future workforce," says Wayne Heide, Administrative Director of Manitoba's Office of Rural & Northern Health.

It is expected that Aboriginal people will make up about 25 per cent of the people entering the workforce in the next few years.

"The website allows people to explore and find a career they would be interested in. A lot of the information exists out there. We collected it and tried to pack the website with as much information as we could find, to help them do so."

Along with inspiring video profiles of 17 Aboriginal people working in health care throughout the province, the website contains an inventory and description of a wide variety of health-related careers. Four more videos focus on education, success, overcoming obstacles and culture and spirituality.

"There are wonderful videos on the site telling the story of great role models," said Holly Leost, Regional Director of the Aboriginal Employment Program with Southern Health in Portage la Prairie. "There are hundreds of careers in health. It takes post-secondary education to open doors to these careers. You could say that education is our new buffalo."

The website also lists post-secondary institutions, organizations and resources for education and training opportunities, including funding opportunities for all things related to the health-care sector, along with job listings. There are links to supports for students, including child care, housing, budgeting tools, and licensing and registration once they have graduated from training.

At the launch, Dr. Lisa Monkman, a family physician from the Dauphin Medical Centre, spoke about her career as a doctor and her background as a non-status Ojibwe woman.

"Change to the health-care system has to come from within. Aboriginal people, trained in the Western way, can incorporate traditional beliefs and values, and that makes us better health-care workers," she said. "As a healer, we devote our lives to serving others. Working in medicine is a great career. It's very secure and stable."

Darina Beardy, an administrative assistant at the Thompson General Hospital, spoke about how the only person standing in her way of a career was herself. "My dad was at residential school. He passed away in June. But he became a teacher, and he showed me how education would open doors for me," said Beardy, who is a Cree woman from Split Lake. "It took me three years to complete my diploma, but I loved going to school, and I love working with people."

The website is accompanied by a print campaign. Interactive posters with QR codes and support material Your Health 21 Aboriginal role models of all ages who work in health care. The posters will be distributed to First Nations schools and communities throughout the province, and have the slogan, "This could be you - Become a healer."

"Young people love their hand-held devices," said Mike Bettens, President of, the company that built the website. "The QR codes on the posters link directly through to the videos. We want the website to be proactive, to reach out to the community and engage their interest in choosing health-care careers."

The $290,000 project is funded through the Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative. The contract for the web portal also includes three years of maintenance and updating to ensure the website will remain current over the medium term.

The Manitoba Aboriginal Health Careers website is a product of an alliance consisting of representatives from the seven Manitoba Tribal Councils: Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council, Island Lake Tribal Council, Keewatin Tribal Council, Southeast Tribal Council, Swampy Cree Tribal Council, Interlake Tribal Council and West Region Tribal Council.

Other participants in the project include two representatives from independent First Nations communities (one northern and one southern), one representative from each of the five regional health authorities, one representative from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, one representative from Health Canada and one from Manitoba's Office of Rural and Northern Health.

Susie Strachan is a communications advisor with the Winnipeg Health Region.


About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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