Heather Hastings is the recipient of the 2019 Inspiration Award for “Providing Effective Health Administration.” Heather is a member of Tsartlip First Nation, and was born and raised in that community. She always knew she wanted to work in a helping profession, though didn’t start off with the goal of working in community. However, while working as a nurse in a hospital she felt disconnected from people’s lives and developed a desire to follow their her patient’s journey back to community, to see how they fared when they got home. She started working as Tsartlip’s community nurse in 2011, and moved into the role of Health Director in July 2018.
Heather particularly likes working in community because everyone is so passionate about the wellness of their community. Heather describes her leadership philosophy as knowing it’s not her role to be ‘the expert’, but rather to support capacity building within her community and enhance the abilities of her staff. Everybody brings a set of tools to the work, and her job is to support, not to micromanage
Heather is inspired by seeing community members empowered to lead their own health care journeys. Overcoming historical hurt in the health system and navigating often complex health needs is a big deal, and she is happy to see the waiting room full on clinic days. “I feel like health care has come alive in our community,” she says. This spirit of transformation and empowerment is also evident in palliative care delivery. Working with the local hospital, neighbouring communities, physicians and community members – a new pathway is being developed that can allow community members to self-determine and ensure communities have the capacity to support those members.
In the words of Heather’s nominator, “Heather lives and breathes improving the quality of services for her community and surrounding Nations. She has been a voice at the table to hold Island Health staff to account and ensure we are receiving the best care within the hospital and other health care settings. The Coast Salish are very fortunate to have her voice at these tables.”