Curator new member of advisory committee
Louise Thomas was asked to bring her arts expertise to help make the hospital a more welcoming place.
Louise Thomas did not hesitate for a moment when she was asked to become a member of Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s (TBRHSC) Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
The owner and curator of the Ahnisnabae Art Gallery, which features the artwork of her late husband Roy Thomas, is one of the newest members of TBRHSC’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee.
“Carmen Blais (Aboriginal Engagement Lead and Patient Advocate) asked me to be a member because she felt I had a lot to offer,” said Thomas.
Its 25 members include representatives of Aboriginal organizations in northwestern Ontario, patient and family advisors and leaders from TBRHSC. The Committee acts in an advisory capacity and its main purpose is to implement the Aboriginal Health Strategic Direction of TBRHSC’s current strategic plan.
The Northwest Local Health Integration Network (NWLHIN), the region served by TBRHSC, is home to a third of the on-reserve Aboriginal population and a quarter of the off-reserve in the province. Aboriginal people are estimated to represent 19.2% of the population in the NWLHIN.
“When our current strategic plan was being developed, we recognized that Aboriginal health needed to be a priority, and so it was identified as one of our four strategic directions,” said Andrée Robichaud, president and CEO, TBRHSC.
“The committee helps us to engage with the Aboriginal community on initiatives such as developing culturally appropriate health plans, and creating a more welcoming environment for Aboriginal patients and their families.”
As part of the Strategic Plan, it was decided that all Aboriginal health activities would be reviewed to ensure TBRHSC is appropriately meeting the cultural and health needs of its Aboriginal patients and families. As a result, the creation of an engagement strategy with Aboriginal partners became a top priority.
Thomas was asked to bring her arts expertise to help make the hospital a more welcoming place for Aboriginal patients and families. “Let’s make the hospital a place to see colour and maybe even host some artists’ shows. It helps especially when you’re going through something awful like cancer and receiving chemotherapy,” she said. A print of one of Roy Thomas’ paintings hangs in the Regional Cancer Care Centre.
“I’m really proud to be part of this committee and to do my best to represent my people the best I know how.”
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