The head of Kenora's hospital, Ray Racette, was the special guest speaker for Reconciliation Kenora's annual meeting yesterday. The group is also known by the traditional name  Azhe-mino-gahbewewin. 

In his keynote speech, Racette talked about the importance of improving Indigenous health as a key priority for health care leaders across the country, not just the district. Racette moved to Kenora after working with the Canadian College of Health Leaders in Ottawa.

He was also the president and CEO of Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg, as well as Boundary Trails Health Centre in Winkler and Morden in southern Manitoba. 

Improved health outcomes will come from better access and making sure knowledge is shared from one site to another. This also includes bringing traditional knowledge and healing into the hospital setting, he added.

With the provincial move to form health teams, and the local direction to build a new hospital building, Racette has become a key figure for both initiatives. After yesterday's meeting, he said building good relationships was key to the planning process.

"The big thing is it's an important journey. We need to do it well. It needs to be staged well. A lot of it is trust building. You don't get that automatically. You earn that," he said.

More detailed planning for what's in the new building starts next year, with community engagement to follow. 

Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard and city councillor Rory McMillan were also in attendance, along with representatives from First Nation and Metis communities.

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