Vanessa Mitchell

Phd Student, Health Sciences

Vanessa Mitchell is a syilx (Okanagan) woman, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, and mother of two young adults. She lives in her home community of n’kmaplqs (Head of the Lake) within the syilx nation.

Vanessa is always immersed in what she calls the “hard work and heart work” of self-reflection, healing, and transformation. She identifies “hard work” as resistance against Indigenous-specific racism, violence, discrimination and harms that she can experience in her day-to-day life. And she identifies “heart work” as place-based, oratory connecting, healing, and experiences shared by people and community.

Throughout her career, she has worked with Elders, youth and leadership in both urban and on-reserve communities to engage in community wellness that is rooted in traditional protocols and practices to guide programs, services, and strategic plans. More recently, within the Interior Health region, she led the development of an accredited cultural safety and humility program, including the creation of both an Indigenous community advisory committee and a physician advisory committee.

Vanessa received her master’s degree at UBC Okanagan. Using an Indigenous methodology, her graduate research at UBCO focused on locating cultural safety in a specific place through a syilx analytical framework. In the fall of 2022, she will be pursuing her doctoral degree, under the supervision of Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, where she will bring together her philosophy of “hard work and heart work” to think outside the colonial box in efforts to elevate Indigeneity and research transformative leadership practices that uphold community protocols within the realm of health.