Kona Williams

Forensic Pathologist


What are the roles and responsibilities in your current position?

As a forensic pathologist (and a coroner), I’m responsible for determining the cause of death. I do this through a procedure called an autopsy. I examine the body of a dead person, looking for clues as to how they died. I use all the medical and scientific facts I find to get to the truth. I testify in court as an expert witness, teach medical learners, and I am in charge of the regional forensic pathology unit for Northeastern Ontario.

I’m also the Laboratory Medical Director for the hospital. I oversee the entire lab – I’m responsible for all the testing and the approximately 200 employees who make it all possible.

What barriers did you have to overcome to succeed?

I’m currently the only First Nations Forensic Pathologist. This is a heavy burden, especially with the spotlight on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and the burial sites at Residential Schools.

I hope that others who are interested in forensic work will help, there are many careers in forensic science and forensic pathology, and you are needed!

What is your advice for healthcare students?

It’s a very long-haul, especially if you want to be a doctor. It takes a lot of hard work and many years before you can do what I do. But I did it, and so can you. Don’t be afraid of failure – learn from it and keep moving forward. Failure has been my greatest teacher.

Find a good mentor, or three. Your need for mentors will change as you go through your journey, and that’s ok. Be a mentor to those who come after you; you never know how much you can change the course of someone’s life just by encouraging them. Most of all, take the time to enjoy the journey, take time for yourself and your loved ones. One day you will look back and see the mountain you just climbed, make sure you enjoy the view!

Contact Kona for more information on her professional field and support!
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