Privileging Indigenous-led practices to develop a community wellness strategy – UM Today

May 23, 2024 —

As a Red River Métis scholar, health leader and practicing registered nurse since 2003, Indigenous health equity and reconciliatory practice within Manitoba’s nursing and health sector is of both personal and professional importance to Stephanie Van Haute [MN/21]. After graduating high school, it wasn’t her initial dream to become a nurse. She started her post-secondary education at Red River College, where she earned a diploma in nursing. Commitment to supporting global health equity led her to working with Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors without borders), which required a Bachelor’s degree to apply. That led her to California State University to get her degree and then, eventually, to three tours in sub-Saharan Africa eventually working as Medical Team Lead responsible for overseeing health services for nearly 1.2 million in people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Even if I was reluctant at first, over the 21 years I had been working in nursing, I had fallen in love with the profession and so it only made sense for me to pursue my master’s degree,” said Van Haute. “Out of all the mainstream health professions, to me, nursing offers the most holistic patient-centred and family-centred lens on how to care for people and how to design and plan health systems and that’s what I’m really interested in.”

Having completed her master’s, she jokes that she is now in nursing school for the fifth time as she works to complete her PhD. Her research, concentrated in Churchill, Manitoba, focuses on incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing to guide health systems planning, including the use of traditional healing practices into the health system. Her project, tied directly to truth and reconciliation, asks what it means to privilege Indigenous ways of knowing and doing alongside more mainstream health services.

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