A Legacy of Service: CHAM Turns 80

20 December, 2023 | Initiatives and Projects

The Catholic Health Association of Manitoba (CHAM) is celebrating its 80th year of service and advocacy. Founded in 1943 by four nuns from different congregations, CHAM originally began as the Catholic Hospital Conference of Manitoba, but eventually chose the name CHAM as the needs and services being offered by Catholic health and human services agencies expanded.

CHAM is comprised of faith-based organizations and Catholic dioceses across Manitoba and its members have seen a lot of change over the years. In our modern-day health system, CHAM continues to have an important mission and presence.

“Our entire healthcare system was founded by Catholic women religious,” explains the Executive Director of CHAM, Julie Turenne-Maynard. “Many of these founding organizations are still living and breathing the ethos of the Sisters. In a world that is becoming more secular, it’s important for those of us working in faith-based organizations that we continue to be of service to our communities. We’re often the first to respond to unmet needs, and we can take risks and move faster than others in the system. We’ll invest and do what needs to be done to serve those in need, when they need us. That is definitely one of our strengths.”

Turenne-Maynard also sees advocacy as an important part of CHAM’s mission. “We’ve been very involved with creating faith-based agreements with the provincial government,” she continues. “We’ve made sure that faith-based principles were incorporated into the contracts our organizations have to provide services.”

As part of their activities, CHAM offers events and workshops to support Manitobans. “We’ve run spiritual care series, aimed at those who are working with the elderly, or caregivers,” explains Turenne-Maynard. “We’ve also hosted caregiver support programs. We focus on listening to what our members and the faithful need, and then we do our best to provide those services.”

CHAM has also become more active in offering learning opportunities and activities related to truth and reconciliation. “Throughout the last two years, we’ve been learning more about the truth of our shared history,” says Turenne-Maynard. “Our members are certainly interested in whatever we can offer to help them on their journeys. We are very committed to this process.”

Turenne-Maynard, who will be retiring in early 2024 after eight years in her role, has been reflecting on CHAM’s history as well as her time with the organization. “I’m really proud of how we’ve evolved and gotten closer to our members and our community. Our advocacy has been important, too. It’s like starting from scratch with every new government, but we’re never forgotten. The space that we hold in Manitoba’s healthcare system is sacred, and not just in the religious way. The history we carry and everything that we embody matters to a lot of people.”