Information for Indigenous Patients, Families, and Communities

At the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, our goals are to provide a more welcoming environment for Indigenous patients and families, develop education and research that focuses on Indigenous health, and develop cultural sensitivity and understanding to better meet their needs in everything we do.

The Indigenous Advisory Committee plays an important role in this. Elders, community volunteers, patients, and staff all help to provide direction in reaching our goals.

This web page is designed to provide Indigenous patients, families, and communities with information about the Health Sciences Centre. Going to Thunder Bay for treatments or appointments can be scary, especially for those who do not speak English. This page offers a list of services, information about the Health Sciences Centre, and information about other organizations that can help you or your loved one travelling to Thunder Bay.

What to Expect

About Your Appointment

Your doctor or specialist at the Health Sciences Centre will give you the details of your appointment. If you have several appointments on different days, it may be possible to book all appointments on one day. Contact your doctor’s office to find out, or talk to the staff at your community Nursing Station who may be able to help.

Please bring all appointment forms with you to your appointment. If you need help finding where your appointment is at the Health Sciences Centre, you can give these forms to Admitting or the Information Desk and they will help you find the way.

Planning Your Trip

Talk to the staff at your community Nursing Station about your appointment. They will be able to help you in many ways, including letting you know where to stay, and arranging transportation to and from the airport in some cases.

If you are coming from the Sioux Lookout Zone, you may have to stay overnight in Sioux Lookout. Accommodations may be available at the Jeremiah McKay Kabayshewekamik Hostel. Call toll-free 1-888-303-1334 or 737-3850 in Sioux Lookout.

Below are some other resources about accommodations and transportation in Thunder Bay.

Wequedong Lodge

Wequedong Lodge in Thunder Bay offers accommodations and transportation to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit who have come to the city for medical care. This can usually be arranged through your community Nursing Station.

Make sure Wequedong Lodge has your flight number and arrival time so they can pick you up at the airport.

Wequedong Lodge will also provide transportation to the Health Sciences Centre, other medical appointments around the city, and to pick up medications/medical supplies such as at a pharmacy. This transportation isn’t available for personal errands such as going shopping. More information can be found on the Wequedong Lodge website.

Tbaytel Tamarack House

Patients staying for cancer treatment may have the option to stay at the Tbaytel Tamarack House located on the Health Sciences Centre grounds.

Other Hotels

For those who require a hotel, this is a list of approved hotels through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program (NIHB):

Other Transportation from the Airport

If you do not have transportation from the airport, taxis and Thunder Bay Transit (the city bus) are also available outside of the terminal. More bus information including schedules and maps can be found on the City of Thunder Bay website.

Sweat Lodges

The following is a list of sweat lodges in the city, along with contact names and numbers:
Ka Na chi Hih Marlene Orr (626-1692/626-8350)

At the Health Sciences Centre

Most appointments will be at the main building of the Health Sciences Centre. Renal Services (for kidney disease and related appointments) has its own entrance, near the bus stop. The Main Entrance is not far from this entrance. The Information Desk is located just across and to the right of the Main Entrance. The Emergency Department also has its own entrance at the south of the building, and is well marked.

Finding Help

Contact an Indigenous Patient Navigator for help.

If you need spiritual care:

Call (807) 684-6236 from 8:30am to 11:00pm and leave a message. Inpatients can also talk to their nurse about contacting Spiritual Care. Bundles for smudging ceremonies are also available through the Spiritual Care office.

For general information:

Visit the Information Desk across from the Main Entrance, or call the Switchboard at (807) 684-6000.

Interpretive (Translation) Services

Talk 4 Healing (1-855-554-HEAL)

Within the Health Sciences Centre:

Susan Anderson (Renal Patient Liasion) 684-6166

Jeannie Simon (Cancer Patient Navigator) 684-4324

Pauline Mickelson (Emergency Department Patient Navigator – Weekends) 684-6216

Leona Masakeyash (The Centre for Complex Diabetes Care Patient Liasion – Weekends) (807) 684-6952

Traditional Healing

There are several traditional healers in Thunder Bay. For a list of current healers and available dates, please contact the Spiritual Care office at (807) 684-6236.

Healing Garden

The Healing Garden is located in the main courtyard on Level 1 across from Paediatrics, and is open to all patients and family members. The four sacred medicines are planted there: sage, sweet grass, cedar, and tobacco. For more information, please contact the Spiritual Care office at (807) 684-6236.


A smudging bundle is available for public use 24/7 and can be found in the reception area of the Spiritual Care office. Smudging can be conducted in the Multi-faith Spiritual Centre, which is open 24/7 and can be found next to the Spiritual Care office on Level 2. Smudging can also be conducted seasonally in the Healing Garden on Level 1, across from Paediatrics. For more information, please call the Spiritual Care office at (807) 684-6236.

Other Supports and Information in Thunder Bay

There are many organizations in Thunder Bay that provide information, support, and services to First Nations (on- and off-reserve), Métis, and Inuit people visiting the city. Ask the staff at your community Nursing Station – they may be able to help. This list can also be found in the Thunder Bay Telephone book near the front.If you are in Sioux Lookout at the Meno-Ya-Win Health Centre, many of the staff there are familiar with healthcare services in Thunder Bay, and may be helpful as well. Here is a list of Indeigenous Support Services in Thunder Bay for hospices, food and clothing banks, and other related services.

The City of Thunder Bay also provides information about food and clothing banks, support agencies, and other services.

Government Offices and Services

Many people travelling to Thunder Bay for the first time find it is convenient to get their official documents at this time including status card, driver’s license, etc. Here is more information about accessing those services:

For Federal Government Assistance (Social Insurance Number, etc.):

For Government of Ontario services (Driver’s License, etc.): (this location is directly cross from the Wequedong Lodge)

For Status Card

Thunder Bay Business Centre (Indigenous and Northern Affairs – Canada)
100 Anemki Drive, Suite 101
Fort William First Nation, ON P7J 1A5
(807) 623-3534 (in Thunder Bay), 1-800-567-9604 (outside of Thunder Bay)

AANDC Ontario Region Offices:

Status Card Renewal Information:

How to Apply, and Who is Eligible:

For Ontario Health Card

Unit 113, 435 James Street South
General Phone: 1-800-267-8097
Health Card Enquiry: 1-888-376-5197

Hours of Operation:
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm

Northern Ontario Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Navigator

(807) 737-5844 (in Thunder Bay)
1-877-779-7749 (outside of Thunder Bay)

Information from the Chiefs of Ontario:

Share Your Story to Make a Change

How was your experience at the Health Sciences Centre? Whether you had a good experience or a bad one, the Health Sciences Centre wants to know. Feedback from the general public, including Indigenous patients travelling from out of town, helps change policies and services for better patient care.

All stories are fully confidential. Nobody will have their care stopped for telling their story, good or bad.

To tell your story, please fill in the Compliments and Complaints form and put it in one of the Suggestion Boxes found around the Health Sciences Centre. If you need a form or need help filling it in, please contact the Administrative Contact listed below.

Your story will help us change the way we care for patients, including those coming from your community after you.