“[It] has created a more personal connection between our membership. Our members are more knowledgeable…and are accessing the benefits at a significantly higher rate….”

Jasmine Collis

“I do my best to meet the individual where they are at, to walk beside them, to help them with reaching and maintaining good health and wellness.”

Lisa Osawamick

Coady’s Indigenous Women in Community Development program supports First Nations, Métis and Inuit women committed to fostering development and creating social change in their organizations, communities and Nations. Participants Jasmine Collis and Lisa Osawamick are creating impact in their respective communities by providing and supporting health and wellness initiatives.

Improving Access to Medical Services in Qalipu

Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB) provides eligible First Nations and Inuit persons with coverage for a range of health benefits not otherwise covered through private insurance plans, social programs, or provincial or territorial health insurance.

As the NIHB Support Specialist in Qalipu First Nation, Jasmine Collis supports the more than 22,000 Mi’kmaq band members across Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada in accessing these services.

“Qalipu has taken over coordination of the Medical Transportation and Mental Health Non-Insured Health Benefits,” Jasmine explains.

Her role includes processing reimbursement claims and pre-approval requests from members, and invoices from providers, for the program.

“I also educate members and providers on the NIHB and Jordan’s Principle, and assist members with NIHB claims or requests in relation to the other benefits which Qalipu does not currently coordinate,” she adds.

Jasmine cites transportation issues as one of the greatest barriers for community members trying to access medical services.

“The nearest hospital and medical clinic are in Gander (approx. 350km). It is difficult for people to secure a family doctor in my area, and for those who do, they may have to wait 4-8 weeks to get an appointment,” Jasmine explains.

“At the moment, St. John’s (approx. 680km) is where people must travel to see a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, E.N.T., dermatologist, endocrinologists, among other vital specialist doctors. Wait times to see specialists, and the distance required to travel to see specialists, are concerning for many people in my community.”

Moving these NIHB services into the community, and Jasmine’s work coordinating travel and reimbursements for members, is directly improving the health and wellness in the community.

“Having the NIHB coordinated through our own First Nation has created a more personal connection between our membership,” Jasmine says. “Our members are more knowledgeable about NIHB and are accessing the benefits at a significantly higher rate since we have taken over coordination in the last few years.”

Wholistic Healing for Intergenerational Trauma in Wiikwemkoong

Wiikwemkoong Unceeded Territory is located on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada, and it is where you will find Zaagidwin Counselling and Consulting. Lisa Osawamick is officially the owner/operator, but prefers the title “helper”.

As an independent mental health practitioner, Lisa uses a wholistic approach to support community members on their healing journeys.

“Many of our community members have been affected by the impacts of colonization such as residential schools, the 60’s scoop, murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), and oppression in many forms,” Lisa explains.

“I am very passionate in providing tools that focus on one’s emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical wellbeing, utilizing our Indigenous wholistic approaches such as medicines, ceremony and land-based practices.”

Lisa emphasizes that it’s important to work at the roots of intergenerational traumas, and to remember that everyone has a unique healing journey.

“I do my best to meet the individual where they are at, to walk beside them, to help them with reaching and maintaining good health and wellness.”

Lisa’s goal is to use her work to empower others, to help others improve their wellbeing, and ultimately create healthier and happier homes and communities as the impact multiplies.

“I have come to know that I have been this natural helper since my childhood,” she says, “and Spirit continues to lead me on this path of helping others.”

Learn more about International Development Week and the Sustainable Development Goals. #GoForTheGoals