Celebrating Occupational Therapy Month

Blog Post

October is Occupational Therapy Month and occupational therapists help clients resume or maintain their abilities to participate in a variety of tasks and everyday activities. They help those who experience challenges that could be due to injury, disability, illness, mental health or barriers within the social and physical environment. Four occupational therapists with the NTHSSA celebrate the month by describing their unique roles and highlighting the work OTs do across the NWT.


Kristi Gurski currently works as a Holistic Wellness Advisor with the Integrated Care Teams at the Yellowknife Primary Care Clinic. She graduated from the University of Alberta in 2011 with her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy. In her role as Holistic Wellness Advisor, Kristi uses a relationship-based approach to care, providing behavioural health support to patients across their lifespan. Working alongside the Primary Care teams, Kristi helps patients to manage symptoms of stress through crisis support, education, grief counselling, and lifestyle coaching in areas such as sleep, routine, and physical activity.

“My training as an Occupational Therapist provides me with a unique perspective in helping patients gain skills to enable optimized coping and reduce barriers to achieving a greater wellbeing.”

Kristi is originally from Alberta and moved to the NWT five years ago. She lives with her partner, Mike and cat, Mousey. She feels immense gratitude to live as a guest on the territory of the indigenous peoples of this land and enjoys paddling, lake swimming, foraging, fishing, and curling.

“I’m excited to celebrate Occupational Therapy Month and highlight just one of the many roles that OTs lead within our health system!”


Claire Racette moved to Yellowknife just over two years ago and for the first year and a half she worked at Stanton and now provides services to homecare clients and Avens/Territorial Dementia Facility residents. Previously working in an emergency department in downtown Toronto and moving to Yellowknife during the pandemic, Claire has welcomed the change of pace and the opportunity to have new experiences in the NWT. “Being in the North, there are so many challenges due to the limited access to resources, but people are very resilient and creative in the ways that they solve their problems.”

“I think OT is important because we look at people as a whole; we try and meet and assess the physical, cognitive, and emotional needs of all of our clients. Our scope can cover everything from assessing for wheelchairs to helping those experiencing mental health challenges achieve their goals. Our role is to enable function in meaningful occupations, which sounds like we only work with people that are having problems at their job, but it really means we help people do the things they need to do in their everyday life (i.e. things that 'occupy' their time). We try to find ways to help our clients problem solve to achieve their goals. Sometimes this is through a piece of equipment, a splint, motivational interviewing, planning/goal setting, cognitive assessments- the list goes on and on.”

Claire has found that providing services to other communities in part of the NWT has been a rewarding experience and an area of growth. “I try to practice in a culturally appropriate/safer manner; keeping in mind the social determinants of health and the long lasting impacts of trauma from the residential school system and colonialism. I still have more to learn, but I have found self-reflection and reflecting with peers to be critical and really important, it's something I find I am constantly doing up here.”

“I really enjoy living and working up here and hope to be up here for many more years!”


Linsey Doucette has worked in many service delivery areas such as adults, pediatrics, and as the OT Autism Spectrum Disorder Consultant within her 13 years of employment. She has most recently transitioned into the supervisory role for the OT department. Linsey particularly enjoys working with the pediatric population; helping them engage in meaningful activities. She is also committed to capacity-building within the OT department, collaborating with and mentoring colleagues in a variety of service areas. Although most of her work is in Yellowknife, she provides travel outreach services in other regions of the North.

“OT is a unique and diverse health profession that focuses on creating and/or sustaining one’s participation in meaningful occupation. You can see OTs in a variety of settings and observe them work with diverse populations across the lifespan. They work on inter-disciplinary teams and are an integral part of the health care system.  We have a great department of therapists across the territory that demonstrate and represent the core values of OT; working collaboratively with clients and community stakeholders to promote independence in all facets of living.”

Linsey graduated with an MSc Occupational Therapy degree from Dalhousie University and a BSc degree in Kinesiology from the University of New Brunswick. She moved to Yellowknife in 2009 from Prince Edward Island and has been trying to figure out how to make the two places closer together ever since. Linsey enjoys exploring beautiful on the territory of the indigenous peoples of this land with her dog, Barry and enjoys curling on Friday nights.


Sarah Smith is currently an inpatient OT at Stanton Territorial Hospital and works with residents and health care staff in Behchokǫ̀ through monthly travel clinics.

“As an Occupational Therapist with NTHSSA, my goal is to develop a culturally sensitive therapeutic relationship with residents of Yellowknife, encompassing NWT communities and the Kitikmeot Region of Nunavut, their family/ circle of support. Assessing a patient’s functional challenges, abilities, and personal goals while facilitating independence and safety in their activities of daily life, are important to an individual’s successful discharge from hospital, recovery, and wellbeing.”

Sarah put together the “Rehab Rebels” who participated in this year’s Mud Run with the team FUNraising over $1,800 while promoting the importance of rehab services in a person’s recovery.

Sarah enjoys being an enthusiastic, passionate, and creative therapist, with many years of experience working as an Occupational therapist in Victoria, British Columbia, on the unceded territory of the Lukwungen peoples, also known as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. Sarah was honoured to be featured in BC’s Health Care Heroes Art Installation at the BC Ministry of Health, receive an Island Health/ University of Victoria Research Grant, work as a spokesperson for Victoria Hospitals Foundation, and is a recipient of their Caring Spirit Award.

Sarah’s humanistic approach to her practice includes functional and cognitive assessments, diagnostics, rehabilitative and preventative services for individuals in a variety of mental and physical health settings within acute care, outpatient services, schools, community agencies, from pediatrics to older adults. Leading patient and family orientated research projects, presenting at health conferences, and educating interdisciplinary team members and students on the role of Occupational Therapists and holistic wellbeing is also a rewarding part of our profession.

 “I have previously lived in Whitehorse and I find myself really drawn to the magic of the North. I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in the culture, community, and natural beauty of the traditional lands and having the opportunity to be a guest on the territory of the indigenous peoples of this land. I’m truly grateful to learn about life and traditions from the patients and families of the communities within NWT and Nunavut.”