CBC: Cree doctor honoured for 30 years of service on First Nations reserves
Growing up on a northern Manitoban reserve in the 1950s, Dr Marlyn Cook never imagined she would be one of the first Indigenous physicians in Canada.
Now, she’s ready to transform the province’s health system.
Cook is receiving a national Indspire Award for her 30-year record of service as a family physician on reserve lands. The awards recognize Indigenous professionals who have demonstrated outstanding career achievement.
“It means somebody acknowledged that I do that work of traditional healing with the Western practice, and that meant something to me,” Cook said of the award.
The Indigenous Cree woman from Misipawistik Cree Nation became the first First Nations woman to graduate from the University of Manitoba’s faculty of medicine in 1987.
As first, she says, she worked as “a very frustrated nurse” in Winnipeg in the late 1970s, where she saw first-hand the racism many Indigenous people experience in the healthcare system.
“So I wanted to be an advocate and I wanted to make some changes in the health system, but in the ’70s I felt like I had very little voice as a woman, as an Indigenous person and also as a nurse,” she said.
A doctor she worked with pushed her to go back to school and continue her education.