We Are Women's
Name: Senator Constance Simmonds
Title & Department: Elder in Residence, Indigenous Education Department
Senator Constance Simmonds is a Métis knowledge keeper (Treaty 6, northern Saskatchewan) and pipe carrier (from her community) who has joined the staff of Women’s College Hospital as our elder-in-residence on Wednesdays. Bringing over forty years of experience providing addictions, mental health and trauma counselling, outreach, and case management skills.
Senator Constance is helping to ensure rights for Indigenous peoples to practice their diverse spiritual traditions under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are being met (holistic and spiritual care practices, i.e.: Point 11, Ontario Human Rights Commission) and that staff, students, patients at WCH have access to the guidance and counsel they may need in various learning and healthcare environments. Senator Simmond’s traditional knowledge and governance wisdom have been (and will continue to be) essential to opening our events and co-leading Lunch & Learns and well as the development of the IHEG’s governance structures, policy and procedure building, inter and outer org partnership building and senior-level advisory support. She is also nurturing our sacred bundle and advising on the design of our learning and co-working spaces – in particular – the move of the Indigenous Health Education office from U of T to WCH.
1. What does your typical work day look like?
Tina Kinnee-Brown, Indigenous Peoples Health Education Coordinator, works with me to schedule my meetings for when I am at WCH. We have weekly meetings for the Indigenous Health Education Team and then the rest of the day is spent in meetings with various departments and event planning. I am also available to meet with individuals and/or groups who submit a cultural request through Tina.
2. What excites you the most about working at WCH?
I appreciate the openness and collaborative spirit of the hospital executive and foundation to work with us to create a healthy space whereby our people feel culturally safe and welcomed and where students are free to learn about indigenous cultural histories and practices, where our indigenous students have access to Elders; and our environment invites all peoples to feel safe and free to continue ongoing dialogues of learning and collaboration.
3. How does your work contribute to creating a positive patient experience?
I carry traditional teachings and wisdoms that have been given to me to work with all peoples in a manner that creates safety, confidentiality and builds relationship. I also am a trained counsellor and have worked forty years in addiction, mental health and trauma recovery.
4. Tell us one (or three) thing(s) that your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?
- In my twenties I raced high performance muscle cars for the National Hot Rod Association.
- I have my black belt with karate under Tsoroka Sen Sei.
- I am a single parent and both my children hold PhDs.