Joanna Vautour
Joanna Vautour is the Aboriginal Patient Navigator at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Developed through Cancer Care Ontario’s Aboriginal Cancer Strategy, and housed at St. Michael’s Hospital, her role serves all the cancer centres in Toronto. (Photo: Courtesy Joanna Vautour)

Joanna Vautour considers her home to be Serpent River First Nation, located midway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury.

There, amongst the sounds of the highway, the sights of the cedars, raspberries and orange lillies, and the Thunderbird painting on her grandparents' home, Joanna feels most at peace.

Now the Aboriginal Patient Navigator serving the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and other Toronto-region hospitals, Joanna grew up in Toronto. But her mother, who hailed from Serpent River, made sure her children were closely connected to their Anishinaabe heritage.

Man holding sweetgrass
Joanna’s grandfather, Louis Meawasige, with sweetgrass and the Thunderbird painting at the back of their house in Serpent River First Nation. (Photo: Courtesy Joanna Vautour)

"My family has called this land home for forever," Joanna says. "Actually 10,000, or 20,000 years before the celebration of Canada's 150th birthday."

For Joanna, this year is not a reason to celebrate, it's a catalyst to reflect on relationships with First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities: in the hospitals and beyond.

Meawasige Family
The Meawasige Family on Serpent River First Nation with Black Ash Baskets made by Joanna’s grandmother. Joanna’s grandparents are on the left, and her mother is on the far right, next to their dog Pal. (Photo: Courtesy Joanna Vautour)

To mark Canada 150, we're telling audio stories in a podcast series to celebrate our diverse community at UHN. Every week, we'll share a new story about one of our employees who came to Canada from around the world, or a story about an employee whose family has called Canada home for thousands of years. Tune in weekly for a new story on our podcast, Home.

Listen to Joanna's full story by subscribing to Home on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and Podbean. You can also follow along on UHN's Podcast Hub.​

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