An Indigenous doctor and scholar of Cree ancestry who grew up in Ponoka has been appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Dr. Margo Greenwood, PhD, was born in Westaskiwin and lived in Ponoka until she was 18.
While Greenwood’s work crosses many disciplines and sectors, she is particularly known, both on the national and international stage, for her work in early childhood care and education, and in Indigenous public health.
On Dec. 29, 2021, she was recognized for her 30-year career, committed to transforming the health and well being of Indigenous children and families, and communities through her work to make Canada more just and equitable.
The award, considered one of the highest honours in the country, acknowledges Greenwood’s leadership and contributions to society.
“I’ve been working in early childhood education since the start of my career. It’s a calling that makes my heart sing,” said Greenwood in a press release.
“I’m accepting this award for my three sons who can see their contributions to our family realized, and for my granddaughter to see the full potential of women. I thank my Elders, teachers and colleagues who’ve advised and supported me in this journey.”
Greenwood currently lives in Vernon, B.C.
She is the academic leader of the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health, located at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC).
She is a professor in UNBC’s First Nations studies and education programs. Greenwood has served as vice president of Indigenous Health, Northern Health since 2013.
For 15 years she has contributed to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Greenwood was the advisory board chair for the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health from 2006 to 2013. She is currently a member of the Institute of Population and Public Health Advisory Board.
“The impact of Dr. Greenwood’s ongoing work and leadership in education and research initiatives aimed at addressing Indigenous health inequities in B.C. and across Canada is immeasurable,” said UNBC interim president Dr. Geoff Payne. “This prestigious honour is a testament to her unwavering commitment to ensuring that Indigenous Peoples’ experiences, perspectives and knowledge are prioritized at provincial, national and international tables.”
Greenwood says her work is driven by the question “how do we create systemic change in a world of injustice?” Her experience with Northern Health has further allowed her to lead such change.
“Northern Health is very honoured and proud to have had Margo in our midst over the last eight years, and to have the opportunity to learn and improve as a direct result of her nationally- and internationally-recognized leadership and expertise,” said Northern Health president and CEO Cathy Ulrich in the release.
Greenwood was orphaned at the age of 16. She credits “calling on the power of vision” to open doors and overcome challenges in her journey.
“The National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health started as a dream at UNBC,” said Greenwood. “There were no road maps; we had to create something new. I drew on Elders, colleagues and friends from across the country to help this national centre unfold, evolve and thrive.”
Dr. Greenwood co-authored General Comment No. 11 Indigenous Children and their Rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
She also participated in the development of four federal Indigenous early childhood initiatives over the last two decades.
She consulted with the Assembly of First Nations, most recently playing a key role in the creation of the First Nations Early Learning and Child Care Framework.
Green said tt has been an honour, in all of this work, “to articulate and hold up our collective dreams for Indigenous children and families anchored in Indigenous systems of knowledge where respect and relationships are at the core.”
Dr. Greenwood completed her PhD in 2008. She has authored over 135 publications focusing on Indigenous peoples’ health and well-being. She received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award in 2002, and a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 2011.