A small but mighty team, the Indigenous Youth Wellness (IYW) team was formed in 2012 in response to unacceptably high suicide rates and incidents of violence and sexual abuse among Indigenous youth in British Columbia, and a lack of culturally relevant violence prevention programming. The IYW team works collaboratively on wellness projects to support the needs of Indigenous youth, including their Ask Auntie and Cuystwi (whowee-stwee) online programs.
“Our team is a diverse and creative crew who work collaboratively on all of our projects," says Winona Stevens, program manager for Indigenous Health. “We try to ensure everyone has an opportunity to bring their individual passions and interests into our work, such as Indigenous language revitalization, graphic design or photography."
"We also aim to approach our work with humour and authenticity. We could not work effectively in Indigenous communities or wellness projects without these traits." – Winona Stevens
The IYW team has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to create opportunities for connection and community for Indigenous youth and families in B.C. in a number of innovative ways. The key to the success of this team has largely been attributed to their adaptability, especially during challenging times.
“Working through the pandemic meant huge learning curves, but it also brought us new opportunities to serve more rural areas through mail packages and virtual programming," says Naomi Bob, community relations specialist for Indigenous Health. “We are also incredibly fortunate to have an incredible leadership team, especially Elder Gerry Oleman who motivates us to bring our best selves to work. We laugh, cry, and share our journeys together. But no matter where we are as individuals, we are also held to a broader communal perspective on our impact."
"As Elder Gerry often says: 'If we can help at least one person, we know we did our job.'" – Naomi Bob
For the IYW team, winning a PHSA+ Award has been a truly humbling experience.
“We are deeply honoured to receive this recognition of our work amongst so many other amazing teams here at PHSA," says Winona. “We hope this opportunity means more folks at PHSA will learn about our shared responsibility to the First Nations, Metis and Inuit. Indigenous youth face some of the highest marginalization and barriers in accessing health care, and we need everyone at PHSA to think about what they can do to improve the health, wellness and safety of our Indigenous youth."
The PHSA+ Awards are part of an internal recognition program that celebrates teams and individuals who bring our PHSA values to life in the workplace. They go above and beyond to serve patients and families across B.C. Read about the other PHSA+ award recipients for 2022.