Rutanya is an Inuk woman living in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Drawing on an academic background that includes an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master of Public Health (MPH), she has built a career focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in Canada. She uses an Indigenous, harm-reductive, and inclusive approach to assess the effects of high-level policies at the individual level, starting with herself. Taking into account the social determinants of health, she applies a policy lens to better understand the impacts of income inequality, addictions, Indigenous identity, and a multitude of other complex socioeconomic factors.
She believes that positive policy outcomes depend on co-developing solutions with Indigenous Peoples, whether in urban, rural, or isolated communities. Living in St. John’s as an Indigenous person, she recognizes the many ways in which the built environment favours affluent settler heritage, often leading to “not in my backyard” arguments against efforts to support Indigenous Peoples and cultures. She has an interest in facilitating Indigenous-led policy proposals by drawing on her personal, academic, and professional perspectives, as well as her lived-experience when appropriate.
Rutanya favours a two-eyed seeing approach when reviewing policies and programs, incorporating both a wholistic Indigenous perspective as well as a more typically western one. She considers herself to be politically minded with a deep interest in the systemic issues that affect Indigenous Peoples. She loves traditional food, community, and the creation and process related to Indigenous policymaking.