The award by MediaCorp Canada Inc. recognizes Canadian employers with exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness programs. As of January 2017, 623 Island Health employees self-identified as being of Aboriginal ancestry, up 313% from 199 people in 2012 when our program became a permanent part of Island Health’s hiring practices.
One Employee’s Story
Months before her 66th birthday, Eating Disorders Counsellor, Meredith Martin returned to the career she had left nearly twelve years ago, thanks to advice she received from an Island Health Aboriginal Employment Advisor.
Born and raised at Comox Lake, Meredith remembers feeling disconnected from her heritage. “As a young woman, I learned my grandmother was a member of Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo, but I struggled with my ancestry. For many years I would dip my toe in, then retreat in fear. I did not feel I fully belonged in either world,” she recalls.
While working in child and youth mental health more than a decade ago, Meredith participated in a cultural sensitivity training workshop that changed her life. “This experience moved me to apply for the position in Aboriginal Outreach. I promised myself that if I was the successful candidate, I would make a commitment to walk towards my Aboriginal ancestry instead of away.”
Looking back at the journey that brought her back to counselling, she feels grateful to the First Nation Elders who helped guide her path. Meredith has a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology but the learning wasn’t limited to a classroom. “The Elders teach us to see the sacredness and beauty in all things, to understand the phrase ‘All My Relations’ and to strive to live in accordance with the values of love, respect, kindness and generosity.”
“I feel privileged to do this work at Island Health,“ Meredith adds. “I have come back to counselling ready to walk beside my clients in their journeys towards finding strength and to embracing their gifts.”
Best Diversity Award Quotes:
“Congratulations Island Health, for upholding the ideals of the Government of British Columbia which are to build strong, inclusive and welcoming health-care systems that are patient-centred and culturally respectful.” Health Minister Terry Lake
“We are proud of the work being done by Island Health’s Aboriginal Employment Program. When we learn from, listen to and collaborate with First Nations partners, we find solutions that improve health outcomes while respecting cultural values.” Dr. Brendan Carr, Island Health President and Chief Executive Officer
To learn more about Island Health’s Aboriginal Employment Program, please visit www.viha.ca/careers/aboriginal/
For more on Canada’s Best Diversity Awards, please visit www.canadastop100.com/national/
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