Bella Petawabano

Bella Moses Petawabano headshotBella Petawabano is the Chair of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. For 35 years she has worked in health and social services in Eeyou Istchee, the Cree territories of northern Quebec.
 
She started as a social aide and community worker in Mistissini and served for 15 years as a senior manager at the Cree Health Board before being elected Chair in 2012. A lifelong leader, she also served as a councillor in Mistissini for several years. Bella’s contribution as Chair of the Cree Health Board includes introducing a reformed governance model that is considered an example of best practice by First Nations across Canada. She initiated two regional health assemblies where community representatives, including youth, identified priorities for health and social services. These priorities became the core of the Cree Health Board’s strategic regional plan.
 
Bella was born on her family’s trapline on the Eastmain River, and raised there to age 10. She attended residential school in Fort George from 1961 to 1965 and in 1966-67. From 1965 to 1966, Bella was taught by her family on their lands, learning skills she carried into adult life. She graduated from high school in Rouyn-Noranda, learning French while boarding with a francophone family. She went on to train as a Medical Secretary at Algonquin College.
 
After marrying and starting a family, Bella completed a Certificate of Social Work at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi and a Bachelor of Social Work at McGill University. Bella has been a Director of the Board since 2019.