I applied myself diligently and persistently all through my three years of the nursing program, and was invited to all the Breakfasts with the Dean of Nursing. During my first meeting with Dr. Paterson, I asked whether she was working on a plan to raise the enrolment of Aboriginal people in the Nursing program at Thompson Rivers University. I also asked her what changes she foresaw could be made to the existing program to address more specifically Aboriginal healthcare issues as well include more Aboriginal content to the program. I have completed courses in cultural competency training with the Provincial Heath Services Authority. I was invited by Star Mahara, Associate Profession, School of Nursing to participate in the Science and Health Science summer camp for Aboriginal youth in grade 8-10 for the last two years (2012/2013). Earlier this year (2013), I was re-invited by Star Mahara to participate this time as a data recorder in a two day research forum at Quaaout Lodge – looking at how to improve the transition of new Aboriginal RN graduates. The study is in collaboration with UBCO nursing faculty, Thompson Rivers University Nursing faculty and Interior Health. I am currently assisting Star Mahara with the research project.
The challenge that I experienced during my first academic year was that my peers did not understand the structure or the role and responsibilities of Chief and Council. Throughout my three years, I have educated and shared with my peers my culture and made them aware of the hardships that First Nations living on reserves are faced with daily. I had the pleasure of working with my peers on a Community Health project that involved completing a survey on the Awareness and Satisfaction with Q’wemstin Health Society on the Program and Services they provide to my band Skeetchestn. It gave me the opportunity to share my community with my peers which brought me much pride and joy.
Altogether, I have learned over the years not to become complacent, and that as important it is to stay on top of First Nations healthcare issues and be a good student, it is equally important to be a First Nations advocate whatever form advocacy takes, be it attending Breakfast with the Dean of Nursing or educating peers on the importance of sitting on Council.