Island Health has created its first-ever executive position for indigenous health.
A press release Monday from the health authority announced that Dawn Thomas of the Snuneymuxw First Nation in Nanaimo started her new role this week.
“[She] will engage with a wide range of senior internal and external partners to foster effective relationships, leadership and service advancement, while ensuring an indigenous lens is applied to the development, review and revision of Island Health’s organization values, governance, administration and decision-making,” noted the press release.
Thomas has had leadership roles working with children and families for more than 20 years and has worked for the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development and most recently at B.C.’s office of the Representative for Children and Youth.
Robina Thomas, a Lyackson First Nation member and part of the hiring panel for the indigenous health lead, said Dawn Thomas is the right person for the role.
“That Island Health has created this type of senior leadership position speaks to the extent of its commitment to improving the health and care experience for indigenous patients and families and to building relationships with indigenous patients, families, staff and care providers,” Robina Thomas said in the release.
Island Health CEO Kathy MacNeil said the new indigenous health executive lead will help the health authority create a more “culturally safe and responsive” health system.
“I am appreciative and grateful that [she] has chosen to share her wisdom and experience and join the Island Health family to help guide us in our journey of improving health outcomes for all indigenous peoples across our region, and embedding cultural safety and humility into our everyday practices at Island Health,” said MacNeil.