A doctor from Northern Manitoba’s Misipawistik Cree Nation who was the first First Nations woman to graduate from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine is one of 12 Indspire Award recipients from across the country this year.
Dr. Marlyn Cook became a nurse in 1975 but decided she wanted to become a stronger advocate for First Nations health and graduated from medical school in 1987. She then began to learn traditional healing, which she weaves together with Western medical practices to care for the bodies, minds and spirits of her patients.
Cook works at the Ongomiizwin Health Services of the University of Manitoba and provides medical services to her own First Nation in Grand Rapids. She previously served as chief of staff at Weeneebayko Area Health Authority and Weeneebayko Hospital in the James Bay region of Ontario and paved the way for hundreds of Indigenous doctors to follow in her footsteps.
Presented by Indspire, a national Indigenous-led registered charity, the Indspire Awards are intended to inspire young people and to educate all Canadians about the contributions Indigenous people make all across the country. This year’s awards will be handed out at a Feb. 22 ceremony in Calgary.
Led by Indigenous people, Indspire disburses financial awards, delivers programs and shares resources with the goal of closing the gap in Indigenous education. In 2017-18, the organization distributed more than $14 million to Indigenous students through almost 4,900 scholarships and bursaries.