Canadian Nurses Foundation documentary profiles Indigenous nurses, supports campaign

September / October 2017   Comments

The Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF) has launched a short documentary film as part of its One Million in One Year campaign. The goal is to raise funds for Indigenous nursing education and research and to help address health-care inequity in Indigenous communities.

The Journey follows young Indigenous nurses Danielle Bourque, Sharlene Webkamigad and Isabelle Wallace at work and at home. They outline their reasons for entering the nursing profession and their desire to care for their people and bridge gaps in the health-care system. The 20-minute documentary provides a compelling rationale for supporting the campaign.

Danielle Bourque
Sharlene Webkamigad
Isabelle Wallace

From Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, Bourque was the recipient of a CNF/TD Aboriginal Nursing Fund scholarship in 2014 and 2015 and the Northern Award in 2016. In the film, she speaks about the ongoing impact of the residential school system. “We don’t have the programs to help with chronic illnesses that are present in Indigenous communities and all the health inequities that they face, like higher rates of diabetes, chronic illnesses and the historical trauma that has travelled through the generations.”

“We have this understanding of family, of culture, of language that will help us help our people,” says Webkamigad, who is from Wikwemikong Unceded Territory in northern Ontario. The recipient of a 2015 training award funded by the Alzheimer Society Research Program and CNF, she describes the research she is conducting in a Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging project to improve the quality of life for Indigenous people with dementia and their caregivers by addressing knowledge needs.

A member of Madawaska Maliseet First Nation in New Brunswick, Wallace received a CNF/TD Aboriginal Nursing Fund scholarship in 2015 and the Nurses Association of New Brunswick CNA Centennial Award in 2016. “Indigenous nurses can be a powerful force within their communities and beyond,” she says. “They have a unique understanding and background that can make a huge difference, but they need to be empowered first. Collective focus on mentorship and nursing education programs like CNF’s can be incredibly impactful.”

Bourque, Webkamigad and Wallace are now pursuing graduate degrees.

In partnership with many other organizations, CNF has funded Indigenous nursing education and research to advance innovation and leading health-care practices. More than 130 Indigenous students and nurses have received support from the foundation.

“We must do much more,” says Christine Rieck Buckley, CNF CEO. “I encourage you to watch The Journey at SupportTheJourney.ca. It is a testament to the passion, strength and conviction of Indigenous nurses.”

TD Bank provided financial support for the film.

Funds received through the One Million in One Year campaign will be directed to scholarships, research grants, mentorship and development of mental health resources. To learn more, visit cnf-fiic.ca.

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