Navigating Systems Away From Home: Taylor Natomagan Supports Saskatoon AIDS Patients
“Whatever effort you put in is going to be recognized. You're always going to get what you put in,” Taylor Natomagan says. You get what you give, essentially. Natomagan is someone who is giving a lot to the community, so she knows what she’s talking about.
Taylor Natomagan is from Pinehouse Lake, where she lived most of her life. Natomagan moved two hours away from home for post-secondary at NORTEP/NORPAC. She didn’t want to move too far from home right away and she knew students from her community would be joining her. After completing a Bachelor of Arts, Natomagan moved to Saskatoon and completed a Bachelor of Social Work.
Her advice to youth thinking about leaving home to work to pursue opportunities is to do their homework. “Research what you're wanting to go into and look at different programs that are offered for the field that you're interested in. I went into social work and I took it through the Faculty of social work, but there's also Indigenous Social Work. It just depends on what you're wanting. There's always a program that you find would suit you better if you get the information that you need,” she counseled.
These days she works for AIDS Saskatoon as a family support worker, helping people navigate systems, working as an advocate and helping people meet their needs. Natomagan provides emotional support to her clients and has positive relationships with them. AIDS Saskatoon clients work with social workers because they want to, not because they are required to.
“It's a lot of little small things and it makes all the difference for the folks we work with cause the majority of the people we're serving are from the vulnerable populations,” Natomagan explained. She picked this work with a vulnerable population because she wanted to do what she would want to do without financial incentive and because she always wanted to work in a helping and supporting role.
Gaining the confidence to help was something Natomagan had to work through in her practicum. “I found I really needed a lot of guidance and I didn't want to go ahead and do something unless I was absolutely sure that this was the best pathway to take for this person that I'm helping,” she explained. After working in retail and the restaurant industry, she was used to getting specific instructions.
“I found that there comes a point where you can't always get your supervisor to give you the okay about all these things that you're doing, because you need to take the initiative,” she continued, reflecting on her journey to independence. What she found was that clients could see the effort you were putting in to care for them and feel more comfortable.
The way she works has changed a lot because of the pandemic, transitioning from face to face support to providing assistance over the phone. She’s found the pace has slowed from being steady and pressured to more laidback. To maintain her mental health, she’s been doing small things for her spiritual, mental and emotional health.
Inspired by her manager and the executive director of AIDS Saskatoon, Natomagan is in awe of the way they work hard and advocate for the vulnerable population they serve. Their tireless efforts have made safe access to resources possible for their patients.
Giving back professionally while being an Indigenous role model in the community, Taylor Natomagan is putting in a lot of effort to be recognized. Believing you get what you give, Natomagan is giving so much to the community she’s found for herself after leaving Pinehouse Lake in search of opportunity.
Thanks to Alison Tedford for authoring this article.
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