“My name is Marley Fisher. My spirit name is Red Sky Woman, my clan is Sturgeon. I
am Lenape, from Munsee-Delaware Nation. I am the eldest child of 5 and the first-generation
in my family to receive a post-secondary education.”
That’s Marley Fisher ’19, a proud Brescia University College alumnae and an Indigenous Registered Dietitian (RD) working at Chippewa Health Centre.
Ms. Fisher shares that her road to becoming a RD wasn’t easy. Having started her undergrad at Brescia in 2013, she found navigating the education system was “tough but achievable with family support and financial assistance through federal funds for Indigenous post-secondary education.” Ms. Fisher enjoyed her time at Brescia, in particular, the “women as leaders’ aspect” because as she shares, “in many Indigenous cultures, women were the leaders in their communities and continue to be the matriarchs of their families today.”
During her time at Brescia, Ms. Fisher became the youngest female (at 22 years old) to be elected onto her First Nation’s (Munsee-Delaware Nation) council as a Councillor. That year, she was also able to attend the inspiring Dietitians of Canada Aboriginal Nutrition Network mentorship event, where she met current and future Indigenous RDs from across Canada.
Upon graduating in 2017, Ms. Fisher received the Applied Indigenous Scholarship from Western Social Sciences for her contributions to the Indigenous community. For the remainder of the year, Ms. Fisher spent her second year as a first term Councillor fully immersing herself in learning and understanding First Nation’s governance and leadership.
In 2018, she applied to the highly competitive world of dietetic internships and found success in the Diploma in Dietetic Education and Practical Training (DDEPT) program at Brescia. While completing a very demanding internship, Ms. Fisher was able to continue her work on Council and also ran for re-election on the Munsee-Delaware Nation Council where – with the highest votes – she was elected as Head Councillor for her second term.
As an extension of her research internship rotation, Ms. Fisher and her colleagues presented their research results at the Canadian Nutrition Society conference. Their research – titled Does the Ontario public understand the difference between registered dietitians and unregulated “nutritionists?” Results from a cross-sectional mixed methods study with implications for healthcare policy and law – has recently been accepted for publication in Healthcare Policy.
In 2019, Ms. Fisher graduated, completed the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination (CDRE), and became licensed as a RD in 2020!
She then used her education in dietetics and knowledge of First Nation’s governance to lobby to the surrounding First Nation Health Centres, asking them to consider hiring a RD to complement their health teams. The Chippewa of the Thames First Nation Health Centre reached out, and after successfully applying to the position, Ms. Fisher began working as a RD in January. In this new role, Ms. Fisher was asked to establish a Community Nutrition Services, which included one-on-one nutrition counseling and nutrition education programs in partnership with other on-going health and social services.
Ms. Fisher shares, “As an Indigenous person who was raised on my First Nation, I feel like I can relate to and understand personally many of the food insecurity and social issues that plague First Nations people which has helped me build rapport and deliver culturally-safe programming.”
In March, Ms. Fisher celebrated her first Nutrition Month as a RD with a “More than food” bulletin board that she believes was culturally relevant and timely due to the impact of COVID-19. Having the opportunity to now work from home, Ms. Fisher has been busy developing resources and keeping up-to-date with the latest research through webinars. Ms. Fisher notes, “although I know things will look a little different than pre-COVID-19, I’m excited to get back to the Health Centre to continue showing how I can make a difference for the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation community.”