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IWK Health welcomes two new Mi’kmaw and Indigenous Patient Navigators

Two photos side by side of smiling women with glasses on.

We would like to welcome Jamie Maher and Kayla Bernard to IWK Health in the newly created role of Mi’kmaq and Indigenous Patient Navigator.

Mi’kmaw and Indigenous Patient Navigators (MIPN) support access and coordination of culturally safe and client centred care and services for Mi'kmaw and Indigenous patients.

Jamie and Kayla will facilitate relationships between Mi'kmaw Indigenous community health programs, Nova Scotia Health (NSH)/IWK Health, provincial health and system partners, and community-based services. They will also provide regular feedback and advice to senior leadership, partners and Indigenous consultants to improve access to appropriate care inclusive of cultural and spiritual needs.  

Patient navigation is recognized as a key component of an integrated system and an effective way to improve the delivery of person-centred care and clinical efficiencies. IWK Health is proud to introduce this important role as part of an ongoing focus to overcome barriers to timely and culturally safe care, facilitate coordination of care, and enhance the delivery of high quality, culturally safe, trauma-informed and person-centred care.

Jamie is a queer, urban Mi’kmaw woman and registered social worker. Her work aims to be anti-oppressive with an awareness and lived experience of mental health, addictions, and colonialism impacts. Jamie holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Dalhousie University and a Masters of Social Work from Memorial University. She has worked in Community Services and as a Clinical Therapist with Nova Scotia Health. Jamie is passionate about decolonizing health care, supporting gender affirming care, and creating inclusive spaces for all persons accessing health care.

Kayla grew up in the Mi’kmaq community of Sipekne’katik First Nations, and now identifies as an urbanized Indigenous person due to the time spent in her new home of Kjipuktuk (Halifax). She completed her Bachelor of Science in Recreation at Dalhousie University and is a Certified Recreation Therapist.

She is a strong believer in the importance of recreation, the arts, connection to culture, and outdoor adventure for all children and youth - not only as a mental health protective factor, but also as a support for lifelong wellness. Kayla is a strong Indigenous activist and advocate whose work has been recognized by the province of Nova Scotia, Senate of Canada and the World Scouting Association. In her spare time Kayla enjoys beading, dancing in Mawio'mi'l, video and board games, spending time outside, and volunteering to help youth.