Employee Voices

Fostering UNITY Through Understanding

The UNITY ERG inspires Rebecca Osborne to explore her Native American heritage and give back to her colleagues and community.



Read time: 4.5 minutes

Rebecca Osborne knows employee resource groups (ERGs) strengthen connections and deepen a sense of belonging. So when the Uniting Native and Indigenous Tribes with You (UNITY) ERG launched at McKesson two years ago, she signed up right away.

She didn’t anticipate that becoming an active member of UNITY would spark a personal journey to uncover more about her own ancestry.

“I joined UNITY as a platform for learning about different Native American traditions and ways of life,” says Rebecca. “But being part of the ERG motivated me to research my Native heritage.”

She’s a descendant of the White Earth Nation, part of the Anishinaabe group of Indigenous people who are also known as Ojibwe or Chippewa. Her grandmother grew up on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota, where many of her relatives still live today. Since Rebecca was raised by her grandparents 200 miles away in Minneapolis, the reservation often felt like a separate world.

But through her grandmother’s beloved brother, Joseph “Joe” LaGarde, she has maintained a strong tie to the Anishinaabe. A respected member of the White Earth Nation, Joe is an integral part of the quest to find her roots.

Rebecca admires her great-uncle’s legacy of service. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Army. A lifelong advocate for Native American rights. An activist who helped the American Indian Movement in the 1960s to speak out against injustice. And today, he heads the Niibi Center, a nonprofit organization designed to preserve the Anishinaabe way of life.

“It’s part of our culture to pass on stories and traditions to the younger generation,” says Rebecca. “I’m trying to absorb everything so I can share with others.”

Joe helps Rebecca understand and practice Anishinaabe traditions. Once, while attending a funeral, her great-uncle asked her to make a plate of food for the relative they were mourning. While initially puzzled by the request, she followed his lead. Together, they placed a meal and other ceremonial objects at the base of a tree as an offering. It’s a moment she’ll never forget.

Exploring her family history also means facing the pain and hardships her relatives endured as a result of bias and discrimination against Native Americans.

“I was raised to just accept it,” Rebecca recalls. “Now I know it doesn’t have to be that way. I want to make a positive change in any way I can.”

Making an Impact on Her Colleagues and Community

At McKesson, she’s found a place where she can bring all parts of her identity to work and make a difference.

Friendly and outgoing, she was drawn to customer-facing jobs early in her career. When Rebecca was encouraged by a former supervisor to apply for a customer service position at McKesson, she didn’t hesitate. She officially joined the company in 2010 and has flourished in her career while taking on new challenges.

In her current role, she’s a senior government proposal specialist for McKesson Medical-Surgical Government Solutions, which provides medical supplies and healthcare solutions for government entities. It’s a position that combines her professional aspirations and personal passions.

“My team works on contracts with government agencies*, and that includes the Indian Health Service and Tribal and Indigenous communities,” she explains.

One of her most rewarding experiences was convening members of her government team and the UNITYERG to share and collaborate. She’s excited about the educational efforts that came out of that connection.

“Together, we’re helping others across the company understand what we do for Indigenous communities and our Tribal customers, and the tools and resources we make available to them,” says Rebecca.

She credits the company’s ERGs with bringing together diverse colleagues from all different areas of the business.

UNITY gave us the forum to connect across McKesson,” she says. “We’re able to build better relationships with each other, which will help the communities we serve.”

She’s thrilled to reach more employees through Native American Heritage Month activities. Throughout November, UNITY will lead events to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of Native and Indigenous people in the U.S.

It’s perhaps fitting that this heritage month coincides with Veterans Day. That’s because generations of Native Americans have served in the U.S. armed forces, participating at five times greater than the national average when compared with other groups.

As a proud member of the McKesson Military Resource Group (MMRG), Rebecca will join her colleagues in rallying around this year’s Veterans Day theme of One Flag, Many Backgrounds: Embracing Armed Forces Diversity. MMRG’s celebration will recognize the many ethnicities and cultures represented in every branch of the U.S. military.

With several veterans in her family, it’s a message of inclusion that holds a special meaning for Rebecca. She honors their service year-round by paying it forward in her local community. Along with her husband, she creates homemade care packages for military families.

“I appreciate the military and care deeply about the personal sacrifices all soldiers and their families make for our freedom,” she says.

Whether it's through UNITY or MMRG, she’s inspired by her colleagues’ curiosity and openness to learning about people from different backgrounds.

“I love that McKesson encourages us to actively participate in ERGs,” says Rebecca. “It’s important because it motivates all of us to learn and understand more about each other.”

*This is not intended to imply agency approval or endorsement of McKesson Medical-Surgical Government Solutions or any of its affiliates.