APTN National News
A campaign to support Indigenous nurses kicked off this week at the Wabano Centre.
The One Million in One Year campaign was launched by the Canadian Nurses Foundation with a goal to double the number of scholarships for Indigenous nurses, and increase capacity of Indigenous nurse researchers.
It’s a way to meet one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, in terms of improving the health and education of the Indigenous community, said CNF Chair Rachel Bard.
In 2009, the organization started a fund for Indigenous nursing students, and to date more than 100 Indigenous nurses have received support from this initiative.
Danielle Bourque, 22, is a nursing student from Beaver lake Cree Nation in Alberta, and is a recipient of a scholarship from CNF.
“I’m in my fourth year and I just have to do my practicum, which I want to do it in a rural community, so the award from CNF will help me be able to do that because we don’t get paid to go do this,” said Bourque.
Hunter Tootoo, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, attended the launch.
“All nurses play an important role in the healthcare system, but when nurses working in First Nations, Inuit, or Metis communities are Indigenous themselves, that makes a big, big difference,” said Tootoo.
According to Tootoo, who’s from Nunavut, there’s nothing more soothing then to know you’re being understood in you culture and possible in your language.
“It helps break down barriers, breaking down barriers is key, key to improving First Nation, Inuit, and Metis well-being,” said Tootoo.
According to Lisa Bourque Bearskin, president of the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, there are currently 9,000 Indigenous nurses across the country.
That’s one reason she supports the initiative as “rampant issues of discrimination” has led to severe gaps in health care.
“I think building and creating opportunities to do nursing training is vital to decreasing that gap,” said Bearskin.