Indigenous Services Canada announces three recipients of the Awards of Excellence in Nursing

News release

June 19, 2023 — Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON  — Indigenous Services Canada

Nurses in remote and isolated First Nations and Inuit communities provide compassionate, culturally safe healthcare—care that must respect and recognize the traditions and cultures of Indigenous Peoples.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, Vance Badawey, Parliamentary Secretary, announced the three exemplary and remarkable recipients of the 2023 Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) Awards of Excellence in Nursing:

  • Peggy Florack, an ISC nurse practitioner, who worked in partnership with the local health authority and band leadership to create a robust primary care clinic in Sandy Lake First Nation from the ground up.
  • Sarah Zimmerling, a caring northern nurse, who, after 12 years at the Inuulitsivik Health Centre, still finds ways to improve and build on her nursing skills for the Inuit community of Puvirnituq.
  • Suzette MacLeod, a devoted nurse in the Mi'kmaw community of Millbrook First Nation, who strives to provide patient-centered care with cultural competence, effective communication, patient advocacy and health promotion.

These awards are presented each year to exceptional and dedicated nurses serving First Nations and Inuit communities. The recipients are selected for consistently delivering excellent nursing, providing culturally appropriate environments to support health, advocating for healthcare improvements, and embracing engagement with community members.

Supporting self-determination and Indigenous-led healthcare solutions is essential when practising nursing in communities. These nurses have shown time and time again their commitment to collaborate and partner with First Nations and Inuit leaders to hear, understand, and address the required needs of their communities. It’s through these joint efforts, these culturally safe care models, that progress is made to improve Indigenous health and wellness.


“We rely on nurses to support us and care for us during all stages of life. In First Nations and Inuit communities, nurses wear countless hats—from immunization experts, to healthy living promoters, to life-saving care providers, to a baby’s first healthcare practitioner. Peggy Florack, Sarah Zimmerling, and Suzette MacLeod have all demonstrated a tireless dedication to culturally safe care in their nursing practices. Congratulations, and thank you for your effort to improve health services in First Nations and Inuit communities.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

“I’ve had the pleasure today of meeting three outstanding nurses—nurses who have demonstrated such professionalism, passion, and patience in their practices. Nursing requires a special kind of strength but offers such unique opportunities for these healthcare professionals to create lifelong connections with First Nations and Inuit communities. To Peggy, Sarah, and Suzette, I offer my most heartfelt congratulations and extend my gratitude for your consistent commitment to serving Indigenous Peoples across the country."

Vance Badawey
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Zeus Eden
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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