Our People in Profile: Primary health care coordinator Alana Fairfax inspired by grandparents, wants those in minority groups to ‘know that they’re not limited’

Alana Fairfax is a primary health care coordinator at Western Kings Memorial Health Centre in Berwick.
Alana Fairfax is a primary health care coordinator at Western Kings Memorial Health Centre in Berwick.

Primary health care coordinator Alana Fairfax credits her paternal grandparents for helping to nurture her connection to her African culture and heritage.

Fairfax’s father was from Dartmouth and her grandfather was a minister at Victoria Road Baptist Church, where he was “very rooted in community.”

While her grandparents have since passed, Fairfax has fond memories of making the trip from Somerset in the Annapolis Valley to Cherrybrook and Dartmouth to visit relatives.
 
As a child growing up in a predominantly white community, Fairfax remembers wondering why she looked a little different than most other neighbourhood children.

However, she said, “I could see myself in my three older sisters, who were successful. I’m proud of having gone through some not-so-great experiences, maybe because of the colour of my skin, and my sisters and I having continued to pursue our education.”

As Fairfax reflected on what makes her most proud of her African heritage, she said, “There’s a certain amount of resiliency that comes with the type of adversity faced by people of African descent.”

“My grandfather was very involved in the community – he had a legacy that I’m never going to live up to but will be a big part of who I am and what I want to be a part of. I’m really proud of that.”

Fairfax’s job, using the provincial Need a Family Practice registry, is to help match residents in surrounding communities with a family practice.

With a background in epidemiology, she thinks a lot about accessibility and the impact of socioeconomic status on health. “I think about how social determinants play a role in health. I travel to many communities so I do see it.”

While Fairfax acknowledges there is still work to do in order to narrow the health equity gap and create a more diverse workplace, she credits her own department with moving in the right direction.

“Any time there’s hiring, we try to have someone from a minority group – maybe even a community member – sit in on those interviews. If you can relate to someone and see yourself in them – someone who is knowledgeable about your culture, that’s great.”

Fairfax has a clear message for others from diverse communities.

“I want other people of minority groups to know that they’re not limited. I think that comes from having role models that you can really see yourself in. That’s always the hope – that you can inspire someone.”