Nipigon District Memorial Hospital Recognizes Orange Shirt Day

Published Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Nipigon District Memorial Hospital Recognizes Orange Shirt Day

Staff at Nipigon District Memorial Hospital proudly wore the specially designed Orange T-Shirt stating "Every Child Counts". 

For the first time, Nipigon District Memorial Hospital (NDMH) recognized Orange Shirt Day on September 30, 2020. Orange Shirt Day historically marks the time of year in which Indigenous children were taken from their homes and brought to residential schools. Orange shirt Day began in 2013 as a result of residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad, discussing her experience upon arriving at a residential school.

Marilyn Netamageesic opened the ceremony by sharing Phyllis Webstad’s story and the significance of the orange t-shirt. Webstad was 6 years old in 1973 when she was sent to a residential school in British Columbia in a brand new orange t-shirt. The shirt, a gift from her grandmother, was taken from her by school officials and never returned.

Marilyn, also a member of the Hospital’s Palliative Care Committee, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to share in the Orange Shirt Day activities with staff, Long Term Care residents, Board members and Community leaders.  

Local Indigenous drummers performed multiple songs and shared stories about the origin of songs, along with their personal experiences. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some activities at NDMH were held virtually for participants. The smudging ceremony and drummers were held on site.

“A vision for our future is an expansion, as well as redevelopment of existing beds. Integral to that is incorporating the specific and unique needs of Indigenous patients and families,” said Cathy Covino Eady, NDMH Chief Nursing Executive and Chief Operations Officer.. “We have many initiatives underway to ensure we offer culturally appropriate and safe care and are committed to ongoing collaboration with our community partners to better understand the past and how if impacts families still today, to and make the Hospital a welcoming and safe environment.” The Hospital’s Indigenous Advisory Council ensures input from the community on key decisions.

Indigenous people represent over 30% of the population served by NDMH.

“Ensuring patients/residents have access to safe, quality and culturally appropriate care is essential,” Kal Pristanski, Chair of the Board of Directors stated. “We are pleased with the turn out for our first event and look forward to hosting it again in the coming years.”

"This was a very important day for us as a community and health care organization” remarked Judy Harvey, Quality & Safety Specialist at NDMH. "Over the past year, we have been striving to better understand the impact of the Residential Schools on patient/resident care and how to best meet the needs of Indigenous peoples." Harvey recently completed an Advanced Clinical Practice Fellowship with the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario titled, "Advancing Patient and Family Centred Care During End of Life for the Indigenous Persons and their Families at Nipigon District Memorial Hospital". The Orange Shirt Day at NDMH  is one of many initiatives implemented as a result of Judy's Fellowship.


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