Siloam Mission Announces New Indigenous Relations Director

Newly-created position to help better engage with Indigenous community

Winnipeg, MB (February 28, 2022) – Siloam Mission is announcing a new Indigenous Relations Director, as part of its commitment to improving Indigenous relations following community consultations last year.

The newly-created role is being filled by Christine Vanagas, who begins work with the organization on February 28th. Christine is Anishinaabekwe from Long Plain First Nation, and comes to Siloam from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation where she worked closely with residential school survivors and special projects in her role as Governance Secretary. Prior to that, Christine worked on projects to address homelessness among Indigenous peoples in southern Ontario.

“We are very excited to welcome Christine into this new role,” says CEO Tessa Blaikie-Whitecloud. “Her experience and knowledge will be a great contribution to realising our commitment to strengthen cultural competency in our services and build meaningful partnerships with the Indigenous community. We are so pleased to welcome her to our leadership team.”

Vanagas says she is looking forward to joining Siloam Mission as the organization works to better serve and honour the Indigenous community.

“There are difficult conversations taking place across this nation around reconciliation. I don’t think it was ever intended to be easy,” says Vanagas, “Siloam Mission’s commitment to doing the hard work and implementing change for Indigenous service and engagement is an example of how one turns talk into action. I am honoured to be offered a chance to be part of this – not only for the current staff and clients, but for those who will see what we did seven generations from now.”

Earlier this year, the board of directors commissioned Crystal Laborero (Laborero Consulting) to speak with staff and clients of Siloam Mission, Indigenous community leaders and others in the sector. The report found that among Indigenous staff and clients, none felt discriminated against, but many did see a need for more culturally-informed Indigenous programming. The report also made a number of recommendations including developing stronger partnerships with the Indigenous community.

Siloam Mission has committed to implementing all of the recommendations put forward in the report, and has already begun this work in some areas. The hiring of a Director of Indigenous Relations is another step in that process, and key to fulfilling one of the major recommendations in the Laborero report.