Vanessa Ambtman-Smith is of Nêhiyaw-Métis ancestry, and a first year PhD student at Western University, studying the geographies of Indigenous Health. Throughout her 17-year career in the Indigenous health field, Vanessa has sought ways to re-design health systems to enable access culturally safe care, and to innovate and advance models of care that go beyond the traditional view of healthcare.
Her research includes examining the meaning and use of traditional healing spaces within hospital contexts and whether these spaces represent a form of reconciliation. In 2018, Vanessa was the recipient of an Ontario Indigenous Mentorship Network Scholarship, awarded to emerging Indigenous health scholars who are engaged in community-based health research. In 2017 she was appointed by the province of Ontario as a board member to oversee Police services for the City of London.