August 27, 2019

New family room offers safe, comfortable space for Indigenous families visiting Concordia

Albert Harper is the Resource Coordinator for the Min-bimaadiziwin Family Room at Concordia Hospital. 

Min-bimaadiziwin is Ojibway for “Good Life”. It’s also the name of a new space in Concordia Hospital dedicated to First Nations, Métis and Inuit people visiting friends or family who are patients here.

The Min-bimaadiziwin Family Room officially opened in June in conjunction with National Indigenous Day (June 21) with a naming ceremony. Located downstairs from the hospital’s Urgent Care Unit, the space provides a quiet, flexible environment for Indigenous visitors to gather and find comfort.

The room offers privacy to Indigenous families when they need it most, says Kandice Léonard, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Regional Director for Indigenous Health. “Sometimes near the end of a person’s life, an entire family will gather from far and wide to support loved ones and say goodbye. Min-bimaadiziwin is a quiet comfortable place away from the chaos of hospital rooms.”

The room is staffed by a full-time Interpreter-Resource Worker, Albert Harper, who helps visitors access community and Indigenous Health programs, services and resources. He serves as an interpreter for clients whose first language is Oji-Cree, and he can reach out to interpreters who are part of Indigenous Health-Patient Services  if other languages  are needed such as Ojibway and Cree.

He also plays an invaluable role connecting families with resources—for instance, by helping plan for care after discharge from the hospital or a return to the patient’s home community.

He is also able to connect people with spiritual care. This might mean bringing in  an Indigenous Health Spiritual Cultural Care Provider to facilitate traditional or Christian ceremonies or provide spiritual counseling. Léonard says it’s important to remember there’s no one Indigenous culture, but many different cultures and groups with different languages, traditions, values and belief systems. One of Indigenous Health’s strengths lies in its capacity to provide patients and their families with cultural safety care.

Indigenous Health, which runs the Min-bimaadiziwin Family Room, is a Winnipeg Regional Health Authority program mandated to support the holistic needs of the region’s Indigenous clients. The program operates similar spaces in St. Boniface Hospital, Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, Grace Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital and Victoria Hospital.

In addition to patient services, Indigenous Health is striving to develop a workforce within the WRHA that better represents Winnipeg’s population. The program also undertakes cultural initiatives to educate and support staff throughout the region, including workshops and training.

Winnipeg has the largest population of Indigenous peoples in Canada: over 72,000 Indigenous people live within the city and make up 11 per cent of the city’s population. But within the health care system, Indigenous people are over-represented by a ratio of four to one, Léonard says, which is another reason why programs such as Indigenous Health—and spaces such as the Min-bimaadiziwin Family Room—are so important.

“A place like this provides access to all the resources of an entire regional program right here in the hospital,” says Léonard. “It helps us support the great patient care Concordia is already providing.”


The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.

To request access to the Min-bimaadiziwin Family Room, please ask Concordia security at the front desk or contact Indigenous Health at 204-940-8880.

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