A Strong Advocate for Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities
Published Tuesday, October 27, 2020
“As a First Nations person myself, I see how travelling for health care affects Indigenous people,” says Wendy Landry, Cabinet Member, Our Hearts At Home Cardiovascular Campaign.
Meet Wendy Landry, Cabinet Member, Our Hearts At Home Cardiovascular Campaign
Wendy Landry brings several perspectives to the table – and in every one of them, she sees good reason to build cardiovascular surgical services in Thunder Bay. That’s why she volunteered for the Executive Cabinet of the Our Hearts at Home Cardiovascular Campaign.
“The people in Northwestern Ontario are just as important as people in southern Ontario,” Landry said. “There is great opportunity to bring those services to the region to help save more lives.”
Landry is Mayor of Shuniah and a member of the Red Rock Indian Band. She is a strong advocate for all who live in rural communities, and especially rural and remote Indigenous communities.
“As a First Nations person myself, I see how travelling for health care affects Indigenous people. We deserve the highest quality of health care.”
She also has a personal perspective. Ten years ago this May, her father Omer Belisle was flown by air ambulance to have heart surgery in Hamilton. Her mother Leonie travelled with Omer, but everyone who could support them was left behind in Thunder Bay and Nipigon.
“It would have been a lot easier if my father could get his surgery here,” she said.
Landry added that for some living in rural communities, travelling to big cities in southern Ontario can be intimidating – so much so that many decide not to get treatment at all. For Indigenous patients, the language barrier makes accessing health care even more difficult.
“Many of our First Nations people need translators. Are you going to find somebody who speaks Ojibway in southern Ontario? Chances are slim because it’s Mohawk territory.”
Landry is amazed at the support for the campaign so far, and in particular the communities around Thunder Bay. The Municipality of Shuniah, where she serves as Mayor, donated on behalf of its residents, Landry said. (She and her husband also personally donated $10,000 to the campaign.) Others including the Township of Chapple and the Municipality of Greenstone also made donations. It shows a commitment to ensuring everyone who needs heart and vascular surgery can get it right here. She hopes more will join in.
“The municipalities have really stepped up,” Landry said. “As president of the Northwestern Ontario Municipality Association, my pitch will be that this isn’t even a cup of coffee per person per year to support world-class cardiovascular surgery.”
For more information about the Our Hearts at Home Cardiovascular Campaign or to make a donation, please visit OurHeartsAtHome.ca