Misipawistik Cree Nation, MB
“It became very clear to First Nation health-care leaders that we needed to make sure our communities did not fall through the cracks between the provincial and federal health-care systems…Don’t forget where you come from, be who you are, and look after your people.”
Melanie MacKinnon considers her many caregiving responsibilities to be sacred duties, following in the footsteps of her grandmothers and mother who served as “humble helpers” to their community. The Head of the Indigenous Institute of Health & Healing (Ongomiizwin) at the University of Manitoba’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, she is a nurse who has provided frontline healthcare to First Nations communities for years. She has extensive health systems and policy experience and consistently creates opportunities for high-quality medical care for Indigenous communities. During 2020-2021, she served as the co-lead of the Pandemic Response Coordination Team to address the new COVID-19-related challenges for Indigenous communities. She brought together complex, multi-jurisdictional healthcare service organizations to work collectively. Her leadership of the Rapid Response Team, an inter-professional group of healthcare providers that could be deployed within 24 hours to First Nations communities during outbreaks, resulted in a streamlined and prioritized vaccine rollout. She has received numerous awards for her advocacy and was named one of WXN’s “Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women” in 2021. In everything she does, Melanie continues to push for equity in care for Indigenous communities.