The event served to honour and acknowledge the contributions made by Indigenous nurses over many decades to improve the health and well-being of residents of Saskatchewan and beyond.
Taking place at the same time as the annual First Nations Inuit Health Branch regional nursing workshop, which brings together over 100 nurses from First Nations communities across the province, tickets for the event went quickly.
“I carry the promise of wonderful surprises yet to come and go forward with my personal mission to create and heal,” said Janet Spence Fontaine, a Cree First Nations nursing alumna and the first known Indigenous Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate of the U of S nursing program.
Fontaine has extensive expertise in Indigenous issues, particularly those impacting health, women, seniors, adult education and community development. She has drawn on her Indigenous heritage to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people, and society as a whole.
“The suicide crisis in Northern Saskatchewan is being felt deeply by many of our nursing students and their families located in La Ronge and Ile-a-la-Crosse and our alumni who currently work in the North,” said College of Nursing Strategist for Outreach and Indigenous Engagement, Heather Exner-Pirot. “This is a particularly important time to highlight the achievement and contributions of Indigenous nurses in Saskatchewan, as they are incredible role models in their communities.”
According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 there were 760 Indigenous Registered Nurses working in Saskatchewan. The University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing has 191 Indigenous students (18.9 per cent of total enrollment in the undergraduate program) currently studying to become Registered Nurses.
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