Indigenous Nursing: Our Journey

April 7, 2016

The recent tragic numbers on youth suicide in a northern Manitoba community are not only making headlines but have indigenous leaders calling for government and societal action.

People living in these communities face shamefully high poverty rates, shorter life expectancies, significant mental health issues, higher infant mortality rates and suffer from more chronic health conditions. The hardships and tragedies faced by indigenous communities are unacceptable and should give us all pause, as we consider what we can do to help turn the page.

At CNF, we know first-hand about the power of nurses; more importantly, we know the difference nurses can make.  Our mission is to advance nursing knowledge and improve health care by providing scholarships, awards, and research grants to nurses and nursing students. That is why this May we are launching a new one-year fundraising campaign in support of indigenous nursing education and research.

Evidence shows that nurses play a vital role in indigenous communities and are   often the first and perhaps only point of contact for health services.  They are often the difference between despair and hope.  Increasing the knowledge and skills of nurses through education and research will better prepare them to deal with the complex health issues facing their communities.

In these communities, indigenous nurses are so much more than health care providers. Nurses not only provide medical assistance, but they’re a trusted resource during desperate times, and a symbol of hope for young indigenous people who are looking to find their path in life.  In a community such as Cross Lake, Manitoba, an indigenous nurses could do so much with the crucial and unique understanding of their culture. They bridge the gap between western and traditional knowledge, and they have the power to revitalize communities. Unfortunately, the number of indigenous nurses is simply not enough.  Today, no more than 10 per cent of nurses in Canada identify as indigenous.

In 2009, CNF partnered with the TD Bank to establish the TD Aboriginal Nursing Fund to support nursing scholarships. To date, over 100 indigenous nursing students have received support through this partnership. Since the launch of the fund, the stories we have heard from the indigenous nurses we have supported are inspiring and a testament to how they are improving the health of their communities.  Most importantly, their example provides hope and inspiration to young people that they too can succeed.

This year, CNF has made it a priority to raise one million dollars in one year in support of indigenous nursing education and research.  We hope that you will join our journey and donate, so we can all benefit from stronger communities and greater knowledge.

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