Minister of Indigenous Services visits Wiikwemkoong

Indigenous Services Minister the Honourable Jane Philpott joins students in the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience program as they prepare to set out on a canoe trip from Iroquois Bay. photo by Michael Erskine

WIIKWEMKOONG—It may have been a whirlwind day of tours for Indigenous Services Minister the Honourable Jane Philpott as she made her first visit to the Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territories last week, but the minister left with a strong and positive impression of the community and its accomplishments.

“I am very impressed with the innovation and dedication of the community,” said the minister during a brief pause before heading into the Wiikwemkoong arena for a briefing on the progress being made on the band’s Islands Claim and a community consultation with elders and band managers.

The Minister of Indigenous Services is one of two ministers of the Crown in the Canadian cabinet who are responsible for overseeing the federal government departments of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Minister Philpott was first elected as MP for Markham-Stouffville in October 2015. She served as Minister of Health between 2015 and 2017 and was appointed Minister of Indigenous Services in August 2017. She notes that she became a doctor more than 30 years ago in order to improve people’s lives and entered politics in order to build a healthier society.

Dr. Philpott spent the first decade of her career as a doctor in Niger, West Africa and in 1998 she and her family moved to Stouffville, where she served for 17 years as a family physician. She became Chief of Family Medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital and associate professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. She led the opening of the Health for All Family Health Team and the Markham Family Medicine Teaching Unit and, an advocate of life long learning, she completed a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Toronto in 2012.

Minister Philpott dropped by the Waasa Naabin Youth Centre to meet members of the latest group of youth taking part in that organization’s first ‘Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience’ youth trip of the summer. Minister Philpott noted that she envied the youth heading out on the water and that she wished that she could join them on their upcoming adventure.

Other stops on the minister’s tour included the Wikwemikong Health Centre, the communities addictions program, the construction sites of the new women’s shelter and the community greenhouse, as well as the Wikwemikong High School, where she met with educators of both the high school, which is on break for the summer, and the adult Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System programs which are currently ongoing.