Matawa Health Co-operative’s Clinical Coordinator Wins Prestigious Minister’s Medal

Thunder Bay, October 18, 2018 – Carmen Blais, a Clinical Coordinator at Matawa Health Co-operative, has been awarded a 2018 Minister’s Medal for her dedicated efforts to improving health outcomes for Indigenous communities in Northwestern Ontario.

Carmen Blaise 


Carmen Blais accepting her Minister’s Medal from Dr. Gord Porter, Chief of Quality and Clinical Quality Lead for the North West LHIN

This is the first time an individual from the North West LHIN has been awarded a Minister’s Medal since the program’s inception in 2013.

Carmen, winner of the Minister’s Medal Honouring Excellence in Health Quality and Safety (Individual Champion Category), was originally hired as a consultant by Matawa to facilitate engagement sessions in the nine Matawa member First Nation communities to discuss gaps and challenges in accessing health services. This work will guide the development and implementation of an Indigenous Inter-Professional Primary Care Team. Matawa First Nations developed the Health Co-operative to provide collaborative and accountable health services to its member First Nations.

In past roles with the Anishnawbe Mushkiki Health Access Centre, Public Health Agency of Canada, Dilico Child & Family Services and Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Carmen has advanced programs and initiatives focused on overcoming barriers to access for Indigenous communities in the North West LHIN. As the former Indigenous Engagement Lead and Patient Advocate at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC), Carmen expanded the hospital’s Aboriginal Advisory Committee from fewer than 10 members to 23 genuinely engaged Indigenous members of the community. In recognition of her leadership, commitment and dedication to Indigenous Health at TBRHSC, Carmen received the hospital’s Walk the Talk Award for Indigenous Health.

Carmen’s 30+ year career in health care consistently demonstrates her genuine passion and unwavering dedication to using innovation and collaboration to improve health care outcomes for Indigenous people and communities in Northwestern Ontario.

The Minister’s Medal awards were presented at Health Quality Transformation 2018, an annual event hosted by Health Quality Ontario, on October 17, 2018. The theme of this year's awards is Innovating Integration, which focuses on recognizing the innovative and transformative initiatives being undertaken across the province to improve patient and provider experiences, support better value, and improve health outcomes across the province.


“Carmen’s commitment to the health care needs of Indigenous people and communities in our region is greatly appreciated and valued. Her dedication to improving Indigenous health outcomes has had a positive impact on the health care system that will have a lasting effect. On behalf of the North West LHIN Board of Directors, I would like to congratulate Carmen on this significant achievement.”

– Gil Labine, Board Chair, North West LHIN

“Carmen’s dedication to Indigenous health is a shining example of the incredible impact that one person can have on improving patients’ quality of care. Carmen’s achievements over her career show her unwavering passion, dedication and commitment to addressing health equity by focusing on improving health outcomes for Indigenous communities in our region. I offer my sincere congratulations to Carmen for winning this prestigious award.”

– Rhonda Crocker Ellacott, CEO, North West LHIN

“We are thrilled to learn that Carmen Blais is receiving this prestigious award.  I have had the privilege of working with Carmen over the years and she genuinely cares about the health of our First Nation communities.  As we work towards developing the Matawa Health Cooperative for our nine (9) First Nation communities, she has been a great asset in bringing the clinical skills and expertise in assisting the Cooperative as we continue to develop the Indigenous Interprofessional Primary Care Health team.”

– David Paul Achneepineskum, CEO, Matawa First Nations Management



  • The Minister’s Medal honours excellence in health quality and safety and is a competitive, annual recognition program that celebrates the collaborative efforts of Ontario’s health care providers in improving care for people in the province.
  • The Minister's Medals are awarded to: one team-based initiative that demonstrated commitment to collaboration, improvements in the health system and value for quality care; one individual who has demonstrated leadership in focusing on quality; and a patient advisor who enhanced patient engagement within their community.
  • This is the sixth year of the Minister’s Medal program.
  • A record 116 applications were submitted for this year’s awards.
  • Matawa Health Co-operative was established by Matawa First Nations. The first of its kind in Canada, this provincially incorporated Co-op consists of nine Matawa member First Nation communities – Webequie, Neskantaga, Nibinamik, Eabametoong, Marten Falls, Aroland, Ginoogaming, Long Lake # 58 and Constance Lake. 
  • Matawa Health Co-operative receives annual funding from the North West LHIN.
  • All LHINs in Ontario plan, fund and coordinate health services, and deliver home and community care services.

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