When Vanessa, Kris, Sheila, and Beth met as a working group for the first time, something just clicked.
“We found that we worked really well together,” explains Aboriginal health lead Kris Murray. “We had great chemistry, we got a lot done, and there was a lot of laughter.”
Each woman brought her unique lived experience and career journey to their collaboration—a collaboration that led to a bi-weekly podcast, Interior Voices.
“This is heart work—not just hard work,” says Vanessa Mitchell, a member of the Okanagan Nation. She believes in doing this work for the people and adds,
“When I say ‘for the people,’ I am speaking about all Aboriginal people.” She has two distinct roles with Interior Health. Vanessa is the program manager for the Journey to Cultural Safety program and serves as an Aboriginal lead for the St’at’imc and Nlaka’pamux Nations.
Kris Murray also serves as an Aboriginal lead, supporting the Letters of Understanding (LOU) with the Okanagan (Syilx) and Ktunaxa Nations. Additionally, Kris supports the Aboriginal Patient Navigator (APN) program and the links between Primary and Community Care Planning and Aboriginal Health. Kris identifies as Métis and lives and works and works in Kimberly.
As a regional practice lead, Sheila Lewis brings an Aboriginal mental wellness lens to the conversation. Sheila’s goal is to “pull back the curtain,” and give community members a firsthand look at the work underway within Interior Heath that supports Aboriginal Health and Aboriginal Mental Wellness. Sheila identifies as Plains Cree and Skeetchestn.
Beth Blew supports the Aboriginal Health portfolio through IH communications. She edits each conversation to fit the half hour format. “Paring down the wonderful discussions is often difficult,” she says. “There are so many gems in each episode.” Beth is an American who spent several years living in Indigenous communities—first in Alberta and later in northern B.C. She identifies as a white settler.
In each episode, the team invites others to join their conversations. And while the podcast covers a range of sometimes difficult topics, spending a half hour with Vanessa, Sheila, and Kris sounds like a chat at the kitchen table.
“We were looking for opportunities to communicate with our colleagues and communities in new, accessible ways,” says Sheila.
Each episode provides resources to help listeners navigate the next steps on their own journeys. This year, the team will expand their conversations to include the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and how implementation will impact health care.
For new listeners, Episode 24: Celebrating Our First Year offers a great introduction to the series. Subscribe to Interior Voices on iTunes or listen online.