Indigenous Partnership

Temiskaming District, Northern Ontario with the Infant and Early Mental Health Promotion (IEMHP) Program

Newsletter Article excerrpt from LI NOW The newsletter of the SickKids Learning Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, By Pam Hubley edited by Kelly McMillen and Ayushi Todi.


In October an Executive Team including Ronni Cohn, CEO, Tee Garnet, Executive Lead and Strategic Advisor for EDI and Pam Hubley, VP Education & Academic Practice joined Dr. Chaya Kulkarni and her Infant and Early Mental Health Program (IEMHP) team in two northern communities with the intention to listen, learn, and begin to build and strengthen relationships between SickKids and Indigenous communities.

We aimed to learn more deeply how our colonial history has impacted Indigenous communities and consider what opportunities for systems change might exist. Opportunities to reach out across different communities are essential, and we appreciated the invitation from the Keepers of the Circle, Wisdom Keepers, and the Mino M’shki-ki Indigenous Health Team in the District of Temiskaming who enabled us to meet local health leaders and Wisdom Keepers. One of the important lessons we took away from this trip was the importance of listening and hearing from everyone in the room. Indigenous culture has much to teach us about respect, inclusion, and humility. The use of the circle to enable expression of multiple perspectives, exchange of ideas, and deep listening was instructive to our western ways of being.
 
From Left to Right: Tee Garnet, Executive Lead and Strategic Advisor for EDI, Ronni Cohn, CEO, Pam Hubley, VP Education and Academic Practice and Dr. Chaya Kulkarni, Project Director - IEMHP
 

From Left to Right: Tee Garnet, Executive Lead and Strategic Advisor for EDI, Ronni Cohn, CEO, Pam Hubley, VP Education and Academic Practice and Dr. Chaya Kulkarni, Project Director - IEMHP 

During our two-day connection we supported the current IEMHP efforts, considered how SickKids could support medical consultation for complex paediatric needs in the District of Temiskaming and began to further reflect on the truths of our role as an institution in our country’s Indigenous history.  As we continue to seek to repair harms and advance our Indigenous Health Strategy, learning from the experiences of Indigenous peoples and imagining new ways of being in partnership must be top of mind. Taking steps forward in authentic collaboration will be essential as we take a restorative lens to address both SickKids and the health system's previous harms and impacts to Indigenous peoples. With humility and careful attention to what matters to Indigenous communities we are hopeful that we will be able to find new ways to support the health and well-being of Indigenous children and their communities.