Centenary Medal – Heather McDonald

Heather’s passion for the service of nursing was lit almost immediately after beginning nursing school. Amongst her other identities as a wife, mother of two grown boys, and outdoor enthusiast, Heather foregrounds her nursing identity in her life.

Heather’s career has shifted over time from the technical environment of Intensive Care Units, to the person/family-first environment of community health. After completing her Master’s (UofT ’92) Heather shifted to rehabilitation, working at Sunny Hill hospital and then at GF Strong’s spinal cord injury rehabilitation unit. During Heather’s ten-year stay at GF Strong, she cultivated knowledge in pain management and clinical research. This knowledge led Heather back to school, and ultimately to her current work world in community health.

Heather returned to UBC in 2004 to complete a PhD. This transformative experience sparked Heather’s current passion around health and healthcare equity, particularly as related to Canada’s Indigenous peoples. Influenced by Joan Anderson, Annette Browne, and Jennifer Baumbusch, Heather learned about colonialism, historical trauma, and the use of program planning and research for reconciliation. These teachings took her to Seabird Island, a First Nations community in the Fraser Valley.

Since 2010, Heather has worked with Seabird Island on health programming, planning, evaluation and research. She is currently Acting Health Director. Seabird Health is an inspiring organization that provides health services to thousands of Indigenous people in the Fraser Valley and Canyon. It continues to both challenge and fuel Heather’s passion to understand the inter-relatedness of people (mind, body, spirit) and their places.