Listening & BuildingPublished on September 16, 2022

Photo by: Ted Simpson

Marion Crowe is passionate about Indigenous health. She has dedicated her entire career to creating environments free of racism and discrimination, where First Nation, Métis and Inuit people feel safe providing and seeking care.

Marion is the chief executive officer of the First Nation Health Managers Association, but her commitment to improving lives extends to her volunteer role as the first Indigenous person to be appointed to the Board of Governors of The Ottawa Hospital, where her experience and background allow her to make a unique impact.

“The landscape in Canada is changing as people become more educated on the colonialist past,” explains Marion. “I bring a different perspective to the table because I’m a First Nations woman who has worked in the health space for a while, looking at things from a holistic perspective.”

And that perspective is particularly important now as The Ottawa Hospital undertakes its new Civic campus development, which is slated to open in 2028 and will deliver state of the art care to residents of Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec and parts of Nunavut. As volunteer chairperson of the hospital’s Indigenous Peoples Advisory Circle, Marion is actively working to ensure that First Nation, Métis and Inuit voices and spaces are a vital part of the entire project.

“We’re thinking about how we’re going to de-colonize health care not just from the ground but inside the walls as well, transforming the way we practice healthcare in the future,” she explains. “There’s a trend now to have Indigenous voices at the table, but the onus is on us not to be tokenized, to put our elbows out, to own our space at the table, and to be advisors and advocates for underserved populations.”

Marion’s end goal for the Indigenous Peoples Advisory Circle is to create an inclusive, culturally safe hospital environment — one which prioritizes authentic and reciprocal partnerships with Indigenous peoples. “It’s such a privilege to be able to give back,” she says. “Volunteerism is such a value of Indigenous communities because it’s about the power of collective voices.”

And she is proud of what’s being accomplished. “The Advisory Circle is contributing to the wellness of the next seven generations, it’s helping us go from hiding our practices to celebrating and incorporating them,” Marion concludes. “We are building something that is by us and for us, guided by the wise words of Indigenous citizens, and I am humbled to be a part of it.”

Catherine Clark

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