Whitefish River, Health Sciences North mourn loss of beloved Indigenous coordinator

Rose Pitawanakwat has begun her spirit journey, leaving behind heavy hearts.

WHITEFISH RIVER – The Whitefish River First Nation and Health Sciences North (HSN) communities are mourning the loss of one of their own.

The HSN said in a release on September 8, “it is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we recognize the passing of Rose Pitawanakwat. A beloved Indigenous Patient Navigator at HSN, Rose’s spirit name is Neo be ne se Kwe, which means fourth Thunderbird woman, and she calls home the Whitefish River First Nation.” 

“Rose began her good work with HSN in 2017 as the aboriginal coordinator with the Northeast Cancer Centre and later transitioned into her role as the Indigenous Patient Navigator (IPN) with the Indigenous health department. She was pivotal to progressing the role of Indigenous Coordinator and the role of IPN,” the release said. 

“Rose contributed greatly to HSN during her time here,” the release continued. “Most recently, she helped shape projects such as the Indigenous Self-Identification Project and the Indigenous cancer video series, both of which are nearing completion. She is featured in these animated short videos which she always felt would be helpful in informing and reaching Indigenous communities about cancer screening and care.”

Ms. Pitawanakwat, “took great care and purpose in her work as a helper, especially in the area of cancer case as she was touched by this personally. She will be remembered for her profound character and fierce pride in her roots, community and family.” 

“Her calm, warm and lovely presence was a gift to staff and patients alike,” the HSN release continued. “Rose will be greatly missed by all of her colleagues and friends at HSN and throughout the North East.”

Flags were lowered September 8 at HSN in Ms. Pitawanakwat’s honour.