First Graduates of New Maternal-infant Support Worker Program in Sioux Lookout

Photo of graduates cutting a cake.

Six proud students were the first to complete the new Maternal-infant Support Worker program offered in Sioux Lookout.

April 16, 2019, Thunder Bay, Ont.

Six proud students were the first to complete the new Maternal-infant Support Worker (MiSW) program offered in Sioux Lookout. On April 5, they accepted their certificates at the Sioux Lookout Men Ya Win Health Centre. 

The MiSW program is a certificate program that resulted from a collaboration between the Sioux Lookout Area Aboriginal Management Board, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, Confederation College and the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research at Lakehead University. The aim of the program is to improve the care of mothers and infants living in remote First Nations by providing enhanced skills to community health representatives in those communities. The support and partnership of the community health centres has also been a vital piece of the program’s success.

Dolly Nymark from Mishkeegogamang First Nation was part of that inaugural class and she is looking forward to putting what she has learned into helping new mothers and their babies. “This program helps fill the gap in prenatal education in northern communities,” she said. “I especially want to help first time moms learn about what to expect. I think this program is a great idea and I think every community should have a maternal-infant support worker to give help where it’s needed.”

The program prepares graduates to work with expectant mothers, their infants and their families with traditional and western teachings blended throughout. Maternal-infant Support Workers apply a wholistic approach – which considers the mind, body and spirit – to assessing needs and a client-centred focus. As part of a healthcare team, they will incorporate Indigenous cultural beliefs, values and practices.

The key role of the Maternal-infant Support Worker is providing a focus on health promotion and illness prevention strategies and participating in community wellness programs. MiSW’s are able to provide a range of prenatal and postnatal resources in addition to supporting expecting mothers, fathers and extended family. The support worker will also perform home visits that allow for more effective communication strategies and problem solving. Home visits allow the worker to engage with the extended family reflecting the cultural and multi-generational nature of many Indigenous families.

All organizations involved would like to congratulate the inaugural class of Summer Barkman, Kitchenumaykoosib Inniwug First Nation; Julie Kenequanash, Weagamow Lake First Nation; Priscilla King, Kingfisher Lake First Nation; Carmel Meekis, Sandy Lake First Nation; Dolly Nymark, Mishkeegogamang First Nation; and Edna Winter, Kingfisher Lake First Nation.

The next cohort of students has recently started training in Sioux Lookout and will begin working with mothers in their home communities in August 2019.





Confederation College has been serving the citizens of northwestern Ontario since 1967 meeting the educational needs of students in a catchment area of some 550,000 square kilometres. Along with its main campus in Thunder Bay, Confederation College has eight regional sites located in Dryden, Fort Frances, Geraldton, Kenora, Marathon, Sioux Lookout, Red Lake and Wawa. 


Confederation College delivers exceptional education and training to an average of 6,500 combined full- and part-time students per year and currently has a total of 850 full- and part-time employees. Confederation’s regional economic impact and contribution is valued at $643.4 million annually.



Lakehead University has approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and 2,000 faculty and staff in 10 faculties at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead is a fully comprehensive university: home to Ontario’s newest Faculty of Law in 44 years, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and faculties of Engineering, Business Administration, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Social Sciences & Humanities, Science & Environmental Studies, Natural Resources Management, Education, and Graduate Studies. Maclean’s 2019 University Rankings place Lakehead University among Canada's Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities and in 2018 Research Infosource named Lakehead Research University of the Year in its category for the fourth consecutive year. Visit



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