2016 IW Winners

Aboriginal Leadership - Sudbury

Angela Recollet

Angela Recollet

Angela Recollet grew up with strong values, values she can use at the office every day.

Recollet was born in Lansing, Mich., raised between the Wikwemikong First Nation and Sudbury, where she went to high school, and is now a band member of Wahnapitae First Nation.

“I had the privilege and opportunity of growing up both on the reserve and in the city,” said Recollet.

“Our biggest influences are our family values, and our family is very connected,” said the executive director of the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre. Recollet’s proud family was headed by her grandmother, who raised 18 children, and is one of her biggest personal and professional influences.

“My grandmother was an exceptional woman with a foundation of strength, love, kindness, forgiveness and wisdom,” said Recollet. “She raised her family to uphold and practise living by these values in everything we did. She taught us duty and responsibility and to take our work very seriously without complaint.”

And Recollet takes this to heart in her role at Shkagamik-Kwe.

“In order to lead my team I have to serve them. I cook for my team; I get down and dirty. You have to be able to do the things you’re asking your team to do,” said Recollet.

The Aboriginal Health Access Centre (AHAC) has been offering culturally based, holistic health care to the Aboriginal, Métis and Inuit people in Sudbury and partner First Nations since 1998. Recollet has been leading the team since 2010, prior to which she was the lead in Aboriginal Affairs at Laurentian University from 1994-2010. In the last half-decade since she’s joined them, the centre has been going through a growth spurt.

“It was in its adolescence, and now we’ve started to flourish and grow into adulthood,” said Recollet.

In 2010, there was a $1.7-million budget that now sits at $4.2 million. Achievements include developing partnerships with hospitals and other health facilities to expand programs and increase access; funding that enabled the hiring and retention of physicians; and partnerships with various First Nation communities to offer satellite clinics and programs.

The growth, Recollet emphasizes, is due to a team effort. The original team of 17 has grown to 55 full-time and part-time employees today.

Recollet said the staff at the centre are like a family who work together, rather than operating in a typical, hierarchical corporate fashion. Instead, the centre operates around a circle with individuals, families and communities at the centre, surrounded by services including primary care, administration, traditions and community programming.

“I’m on the outside as executive director making sure all directors of those areas are being supported,” said Recollet. “For us at the core of the circle is the people we serve.”

Recollet said it’s important to recognize that no one person is responsible for the success of the centre.

“I would never say that this happened because of me. Far more pioneers and individuals paved the way,” said Recollet. “It’s never just one individual. When I came in to my post, I continued the work that others started. I hope to maintain that foundation and instill the same sense of duty and responsibility to our team in our efforts to serving our community in building a positive future.”

Recollet hopes to see other leaders get the recognition they deserve as well.

“There have been many contributors to the fabric of Sudbury from an Indigenous community,” said Recollet. “We’ve had a huge impact on the development of this community, but it goes unnoticed.”

“There are plenty of success stories out there, and we need to start showcasing that and start empowering individuals and families to celebrate that.”

Along with her work at the centre, Recollet is continuing her family’s tradition at home, and is a grandmother of four herself now.

“Being gifted with grandchildren, I now understand the teachings of my grandmother and mother of the importance of family and your role within it. My children are also my greatest teachers in reminding me of these roles.”

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