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Introducing the Mi’kmaq Health Systems Navigators for Prince Edward Island
Jul 14, 2023
Health PEI welcomes two Mi’kmaq Health Systems Navigators to help Mi’kmaq people access health services on PEI. Shelby Arsenault is the Mi’kmaq Navigator West, working out of the Lennox Island Health Centre. Crissy Riley is the Mi’kmaq Navigator East, working out of the Abegweit Health Centre. Both are employed by their respective communities with funding from Health PEI and the Anti-Indigenous Racism Fund and NIHB Navigator Funding from Indigenous Services Canada-First Nation and Inuit Health Branch.These are important roles created in partnership with PEI’s Mi’kmaq communities. The Mi’kmaq Health
Systems Navigators will seek to:
- Build relationships of trust with Mi’kmaq clients and families and guide them through the health system
- Attend appointments, ensuring early identification of client emotional, social, and spiritual needs and seeking Western and/or traditional resources and supports
- Coordinate care and assist with care transitions by serving as liaison between Mi’kmaq clients, their treatment team, and Western and traditional health and wellness system supports
- Educate clients and family members on disease, treatment options, and follow-up care requirements
- Facilitate communication and cultural understanding with Mi’kmaq clients, families, and care providers.
- Advocate for improvements in PEI health systems based on identified gaps facing Mi’kmaq clients and families.
Many Mi’kmaq clients use the federally funded Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB) for medications, medical supplies, equipment, etc.. The program is not well understood by mainstream care providers. The navigators will assist to ensure clients can access coverage needed to address their care.
Each navigator brings their own unique set of skills and experience to the position, helping members of their respective communities navigate the sometimes confusing and complex pathways of the health care system.
Arsenault, a 2017 Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate from UPEI, was enticed back into nursing for this exciting position after a few years gaining experience outside of health care. “Within this role, I assist community members navigate the health care system and other services directly related to their health and well-being,” she said. “As a descendant of a Shubenacadie Residential School Survivor and also a community member myself, I bring an extra set of skills to this profession with additional understanding and knowledge of factors affecting our indigenous population.”
Riley has been an LPN for more than 20 years and has been working with the Abegweit Health Centre for the last 12 years. Prior to her working with Abegweit, she had worked within the Provincial Health Care system at various sites on Prince Edward Island. “My experiences allowed me to gain insight into some levels of care that a client would attain through our provincial health system,” she said. “In this new role, I hope to be able to further assist my community with navigation of our health care system for my clients, their families, and our community as a whole. I am proud to take on this new role and am excited to create collaboration, new relationships, and new partnerships at all levels.”
“I’m so excited to have Crissy and Shelby working with us as Mi’kmaq Health Systems Navigators. The healthcare system is complex. It’s often hard for people to find their way to the services they need. We have seen across Canada that Indigenous people have been disadvantaged and have been poorly treated by the healthcare system. These two outstanding individuals will be the guides to any Mi’kmaq person living on PEI to receive the health care they deserve. I couldn’t be more thrilled by these new positions.”
– Dr. Michael Gardam, CEO of Health PEI.
Connect with Mi’kmaq Health Systems Navigators.
Senior Communications Officer, Health PEI
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