Roger Beaudin receives Tony H. Jocko Memorial Heroes in Health Award

M’Chigeeng First Nation resident Roger Beaudin, who is the health department manager, for the M’Chigeeng Health Centre was nominated for and named as one of five people to receive the Tony H. Jocko Memorial Heroes in Health Award.

M’CHIGEENG – Roger Beaudin, health department manager for the M’Chigeeng Health Centre, is one of five people who have received the Tony H. Jocko Memorial Heroes in Health Award.

The late Mr. Jocko died in a tragic canoeing incident last summer when he and his wife were caught in high winds on Lake Huron near Spring Bay.

“It is quite an honour to be one of the first people to receive the Tony H. Jocko Memorial Heroes in Health Award,” stated Roger Beaudin. “Along with being a friend of mine, Tony was our go-to guy with the Anishinabek Nation Team as its federal health policy analyst. There was no timeline set when we could call if we had a concern or something we needed to discuss. You could call him at 8, 9 pm at night, it didn’t matter, he would answer. Tony was always trying to advocate for health care for aboriginal people.” 

Five people were named as the heroes in health award winners at the seventh annual Anishinabek Nation health conference: We’eni Masaadan Gibimaadziwin-Journey Well as you Walk your Life,” held last week. 

Along with Mr. Beaudin, Debby Roach, nurse practitioner Garden River First Nation, Elaine Johnston Waawassgonehkwe, Turtle Clan-Serpent River First Nation, Agnes Rissanen  and Yvonne Banning of Dilico Anishinabek Family Care were nominated and presented the award.

Mr. Beaudin was nominated for the award by Sam Gilchrist, executive director Gwekwaadziwin Miikan. “I had the opportunity to work with Roger on advocacy projects from the start of Gwek, and when I was at the health centre (M’Chigeeng) he was my manager and a mentor of mine.” 

“And through the pandemic, we have seen M’Chigeeng Health Services and Roger step up, fundraising for the ventilators at the Manitoulin Health Centre, and for the COVID-19 infection prevention and control work, and vaccinations,” Mr. Gilchrist said. 

“I would like to make a nomination for the Tony H. Jocko Memorial Heroes in Health award,” wrote Mr. Gilchrist in his nomination letter for Mr. Beaudin. “The persons I would like to nominate is Roger Beaudin, health department manager for M’Chigeeng Health Centre. I had the honour to work with Tony Jocko for whom they award is named on some advocacy projects for youth mental health and addictions, and his legacy will continue through the hard work he put forth in the healthcare field.” 

“I have worked with Roger in various capacities throughout my career in the helping field. He has been my manager, colleague, and a board member in my various positions, so I have had the opportunity to interact with him in many capacities. Personally, Roger has been a mentor and given me invaluable advice that has helped shape my career in the healthcare field.” 

“Beyond being a mentor, I have seen Mr. Beaudin work tirelessly to build, promote and deliver services for M’Chigeeng First Nation,” wrote Mr. Gilchrist. “Beyond the scope of M’Chigeeng, Roger has made contributions on board of directors for various organizations and has helped with his guidance of child welfare and mental health and addictions agencies.”

“Outside of the office, Mr. Beaudin is well-known for his volunteerism in the world of hockey where he spent many years coaching minor hockey, and being one of the founders of the Elite hockey Institute which brough players from the NHL and OHL to Northern Ontario to put on hockey schools,” continued Mr. Gilchrist. 

Mr. Gilchrist explained, “within the context of the pandemic, once again Roger Beaudin rose to the occasion and was able to help his community and many other organizations institute infection, prevention and control measures,  as well as testing and vaccinations.” 

“In conclusion, Mr. Beaudin is an exemplary standard for a health director and is most certainly a Hero in Health,” added Mr. Gilchrist.

Mr. Beaudin had been contacted at work when he was told by Mr. Gilchrist that he needed to go online to attend the awards ceremony at the health conference. “I knew about the award but I was really surprised when I was told I had won the award, I was really caught off guard,” said Mr. Beaudin. 

Mr. Beaudin has worked for 20 years at the M’Chigeeng Health Centre, and a total of 32 years working for the M’Chigeeng First Nation. 

“I have a very good health team to work with,” stated Mr. Beaudin. The COVID-19 pandemic, “has been a huge undertaking over the past two years plus. It has sure taken its toll on health services, the community and has impacted in terms of mental health and addictions and the overall health of everyone in the community. We will be dealing with the effects for years. But I’m optimistic we will all get back to normalcy at some point this year.”

“Tony Jocko was one of those individuals that was admired by all who worked with him,” said Anisinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe, in an Anishinabek News release.  “He had a wonderful sense of humour and he was kind and compassionate when helping others. While he may have worked as a policy analyst, he also contributed to Cancer Care Ontario. He supported and advocated for citizens in the areas of dental and vision care and contributed to work on addictions. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, Tony-baa quickly stepped in to provide the extra work and assistance to support Anishinabek Nation First Nations.”

“He will certainly be missed by many and by honouring his memory and his work, today his legacy will carry on through the recognition of individuals who also are dedicated to helping all those within the Anishinabek nation territory,” said Grand Council Chief Niganobe.

Karen Jocko (Mr. Jocko’s wife) also attended the conference. She said, “Tony would be honoured and humbled to be part of this recognition. He always said that all he was doing was helping people, and I’m sure this is what all of the folks who were recognized wish for as well.”

“I told Sam I haven’t won an award since Kindergarten when I received a perfect attendance award,” quipped Mr. Beaudin.