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My Story

Andrea J. Williams



Andrea J Williams was born in Orono, Ontario and is a member of Sandy Lake First Nation.
She is the proud mother of three beautiful children. An older son named Kienan, and two little daughters, Caitlin and Lydia whom she has raised traditionally.

She considers herself a mother first and her foremost priority. Her daughters are the stars of her world, showing her the meaning of empathy, patience and honesty, “my children push me to be the best person I can be”.

Although busy with work, she accommodates her children in her travels that enjoy the unique experiences that each province and territory offer, from the Rocky Mountains to the Northern lights.

They smudge each morning, grounding themselves in their spirituality and connecting to the Creator.
They enjoy their travels throughout Canada, immersing themselves in numerous First Nation communities and take the opportunity to learn about the Indigenous knowledge of each territory and make each stay an educational experience during their stay.

They enjoy their travels throughout Canada, immersing themselves in numerous First Nation communities and take the opportunity to learn about the Indigenous knowledge of each territory and make each stay an educational experience during their stay.

They have had the opportunity to travel internationally, further expanding their perspective. The girls love seeing, especially when it involves hiking and visiting museums and cultural sites.

Andrea’s core values are caring, respecting each other, sharing and developing trusting relationships. These were built through living on her family farm not far from Hiawatha First Nation where her family raised animals, collected maple syrup, and the traditional teachings shared at an early age from numerous Elders.

For 40 years Andrea trained and raced Standardbred race horses across southern Ontario, in particular, Peterborough, Toronto and Mohawk Racetrack near Guelph. The horses were in her blood and gave her peace as well as determination to get well.


Andrea has been working for 25 years with First Nation and Indigenous people. Williams Consulting has an extensive record carrying out qualitative and quantitative research initiatives. In addition, they conduct needs assessments, review and evaluate programs and policies and support organizational development.

Williams Consulting designs and delivers culturally relevant workshops, facilitates stakeholder consultations and guides conflict resolution. Subject matter expertise crosses numerous disciplines including governance, health, mental health, public health, lands and trust, human rights, justice, education, early childhood development, comprehensive community planning, and the environment. Williams Consulting works across multiple jurisdictions on behalf of First Nation and Indigenous clients.



“I made two very good decisions in my life: the first one was having my children, and the second was having an amputation, taking that first step without pain and preventing the inevitable crisis that would have precipitated if I had not taken action.”


It was winter 1985 that was the date that would change my life forever.

I was walking towards the towards the airplane at Thunder Bay Airport to go home for Christmas on Dec 22, 2019 with my 3 month old son and then husband. It was frosty night and the air was sharp. The plows had cleared the walkway to the stairs of the plane but because it arrived early, decided not to sand it. It was lightly snowing and I was pre-boarding. There were not covered bridge walkways in those days. 

I took three steps.

My left leg slipped out from under me so fast on the black ice.

I gripped the baby tightly and landed on my back.

As I went to stand back up, I looked at my leg and knew I was in trouble. My ankle was badly dislocated.

Nine surgeries had been performed on me in order to save the ankle and my ability to “walk”.

The initial surgery in Thunder Bay resulted in multiple fractures requiring plate 5 screws, 6 pins and a plate. Three days later at the age of 23 years they informed me they may have to amputate. I could not even process it. Instead we fought on. A decision I would regret the rest of my life. Throughout the appointments, surgeries and rehab my voice was often never heard.


Subtalar arthrodesis

Finally, I got one of the best surgeons in Ontario who performed a Subtalar arthrodesis – which is a pebble fusion with a halo clamp in (1993) at Toronto Western Hospital. This was followed three years by a left tibiotalar arthrodesis (graft from hip in 1996) at Toronto Western Hospital. Unfortunately, now I had to walk with a 2 ¾ inch heel or I had a pronounced limb. My toes did not move and ankle did not move and as I learned to walk again it was on my toes. However, I walked again.

Each operation, you learn to walk again from wheelchair, crutches, cane and then full-bearing working through pain. The pain never went away. As the years progressed the pain increased. I would return to the surgeon who explained that this was my life and there would always be pain. The Doctors encouraged me to do as much as possible to enjoy quality of life.

My medical case was presented at medical conferences in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a medical milestone and published in multiple scientific journals.

And yet I continued to live in chronic pain which continued to increase. Focusing my energy on my business compromised my family life as I was tired at night. In addition, we now live in a new world where everyone who must take opioids for pain management is now treated as a drug addict. My case is well documented and one only needs to watch me walk to understand the pain I live in, but coming home to Ontario and trying to find a Family Doctor became a nightmare. I could not find one for almost a year and when I finally did, they were very reluctant to continue the pain regime set up by the previous Physiatrist, insisting I come in once a week and drug testing me. The drug testing did not even tell if I was abusing drugs.

Finally I had enough. I was in pain. I had been told in Alberta by a surgeon that the ankle appeared to be in a fail situation which is why I came home. I wrote my own referral to an orthopedic surgeon insisting that my family doctor refer me and I provided a name. In the referral, I asked that they consider amputating my leg.

My family physician was shocked. I learned later that she sent out the referral but removed the request for the amputation. The initial surgeon said no it was not his specialty, but eventually the referral was passed around and a wonderful surgeon accepted me.


On November 14, 2019, I finally saw the Orthopedic Surgeon in his office. He read through my history of surgeries, watched me walk without a shoe and immediately admitted me so that scans could take place. At the end of the day, he sat me down and discussed amputation. He had been trained as an early adopter of amputation prior to sepsis or the bones failing. The next step was meeting with a Physiatrist.

We thought it would take weeks or months but it took days. Again the Physiatrist took one look at my mis-happened foot  and recommended amputation, stating if I had come to him five years ago, he would have recommended it then. He stated that the pain I was living in must be unbearable.
I felt vindicated. Two people finally heard me. I never wanted an amputation. I wanted someone to hear me and believe me when I said how much pain I was in. I wanted help for the pain. I have no choice but to work. The relief I felt that I was heard was a weight off my shoulders..

The truth is I often said that I wish I could cut off my leg to get relief from the pain, but I did not really want it to come to this. However it has. To improve my health outcomes, I am having a lower limb amputation of my left left.

As of December 11, 2019  I am an Amputee.

And this website will share my story and hopefully be a resource to others who find themselves in a similar situation

Contact Me!
Head office: Hiawatha First Nation
Mailing address: 841 Swiss Height, Oshawa, ON L1K 2B1
Toll Free: (855) 728 4367
Phone: 905 485 1800
Fax: 587 317 7338