Centre de santé Saint-Boniface has created an important new role within their organisation that will help all those who visit the community health centre feel welcome and safe. In October of 2022, Janelle Delorme was named their first Manager of Indigenous Relations, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
As a French-speaking Métis woman with a Master of Science in Community Health Services, Delorme has spent a lot of time exploring and advocating for her Indigenous culture and social justice at large. “I truly feel as though all of my personal and professional experiences have brought me to this place, which is a really neat feeling,” she shares. “I’m still quite new but I know I’m not doing this work alone. Our staff are already really engaged, and I’m hoping to build on new and existing relationships within our community.”
Relationships have been crucial in Delorme’s exploration of her Métis culture, as well as her professional growth. “I always knew that I was Métis, and I was always proud, but there weren’t many places to express my identity,” she explains. “A few years ago, I had the chance to make a drum with Elder Mae Louise Campbell. She told me that I was now a drum carrier, and it was my job to play it. Since then, I’ve drummed at round dances, at marches, at Portage and Main and it’s always an incredibly emotional experience. Amazing things have happened due to the teaching and encouragement I’ve received from people who have walked alongside me.”
In the same spirit, Delorme believes that part of her role will be accompanying staff and volunteers as they learn and grow. “I’ll be an internal educator for the centre, including the board,” she shares. “One of the reasons I was invited to join the team was that I’m able to take high-level information and workshop it to help everyone understand these issues. Transforming an organization won’t work if people aren’t on board. We are on this journey together and the team here is really committed.”
Before the creation of this new role, Centre de santé Saint-Boniface had already established many committees to attend to different needs in the community: truth and reconciliation, anti-racism, 2SLGBTQQIA+ and harm reduction are among the areas identified as needing more supports.
“This work is about serving our community members, whether they’re clients or not,” explains Delorme. She says that a shift in perspective is vital to truly supporting everyone in the community. “Often, populations we identify as ‘underserved’ are actually the highest users of the health care system. And if they are ‘underserved’ but still the highest users, my reaction is: where are we failing them? They’re not falling through the cracks; it’s that our system is disconnected. We can do better.”
Delorme is diving further into this work and getting to know the communities who receive services at Centre de santé Saint-Boniface. She has lots of ideas for the future and is looking forward to creating meaningful action. “The possibilities are endless,” she says. “I’m looking forward to developing even better and more meaningful relationships and seeing what we can do together.”