Celebrating Indigenous Nurses’ Day: May 9

OTTAWA, May 9, 2018 /CNW/ – The Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, issued the following statement today:

“Today, we celebrate Indigenous Nurses’ Day. It is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the incredible work being done every day by First Nations, Inuit and Métis nurses, and to highlight their tremendous dedication to their communities.

A great example is Bodiene Dussion, a First Nations nurse who works in Cochin Saskatchewan. Among her accomplishments, Bodiene was the driving force behind the move of Saulteaux First Nation to begin expanding program services related to HIV, Hepatitis C, and Sexually Transmitted Infections in the community. Bodiene carried out extensive medical screenings for her patients and worked hard to break down stigma and discrimination in regards to these infections. This year, Bodiene was awarded the 2018 Award of Excellence in Nursing by Indigenous Services Canada.

The federal government provides support to Indigenous nurses working in First Nations and Inuit communities who are often the only frontline health providers for people living in remote and isolated communities. They go above and beyond their nursing responsibilities and routinely take on a range of other roles. In addition to providing essential primary care services, they often participate in research, teach courses, and promote awareness of the importance of cultural competency in their profession.

Known for providing culturally safe healthcare, Sophie Pamak is an Inuit nurse raised in Nain, Labrador, who communicates with her Inuit patients in their first language of Inuktitut. She is committed to preserving this language and is a passionate advocate for the health and well-being of her patients. She currently works as a home care nurse in the community of Hopedale in Nunatsiavut, Labrador. She also volunteers on local housing and food security committees and is pursuing her Bachelor of Nursing at Athabasca University on a part-time basis. Sophie received the Award of Excellence in Nursing in 2012.

I am inspired by all of the nurses who work tirelessly to advocate for and ensure the care and wellbeing of their community members. From expecting mothers, to toddlers and elderly people, Indigenous nurses take care of everyone in their community, often during extremely difficult times.

That dedication is reflected in Joseph Redhead who, for more than 13 years, has devoted his time and energy as a public health nurse, and later as the nurse in charge, to the Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation where he spent much of his childhood. Outside of his work as a nurse, Joseph is an advocate for the rights and needs of youth in his community and the President of the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre. He can often be seen at the Friendship Center, visiting and helping where he can, or volunteering at the Sturgeon Lake Bingo Society and the Grande Prairie Elder’s Caring Shelter. Joseph is a past recipient (2017) of the Award of Excellence in Nursing.

The Government of Canada remains committed to working with our partners to reduce the health gaps that exist in Indigenous communities. We work with First Nations and Inuit partners and communities to increase the capacity of Indigenous professionals working in the health-care field and enhance cultural competency training. This collaborative work is fundamental to developing community-based approaches that focus on hiring, retaining and training Indigenous nurses who contribute towards the wellbeing of communities.

Lianne Mantla is another past recipient (2014) of the Award of Excellence in Nursing whose experiences illustrate the value of cultural competency in health care. Drawn by her strong connection to family, her Dene traditions, language (Tlicho) and culture, Lianne returned to her home community of Behchoko, Northwest Territories, as a community health nurse after obtaining her nursing degree. Rising to the post of nurse in charge before relocating to Yellowknife to continue her career, it has been her fluency in the Dene culture and language that has enabled Lianne to provide personal and patient-focused health care to the Elders in northern communities.

I invite Canadians to join me in celebrating all Indigenous nurses and highlighting the tremendous work they do every day.”

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