OTTAWA, ONTARIO (May 8, 2019) – The Minister of Indigenous Services, Seamus O’Regan, issued the following statement today:
“Day-in and day-out, the extraordinary work of First Nations, Inuit and Métis nurses touches countless lives. In many communities, these nurses aren’t only the frontline of healthcare; they’re the entire system.
On Indigenous Nurses Day, we celebrate these invaluable providers of primary and critical care in First Nations and Inuit communities. We support Indigenous nurses, who through the years have worked and continue to work tirelessly to improve the healthcare system to meet the needs of Indigenous communities.
Over a hundred years ago, Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture became the first Indigenous registered nurse in Canada. During the First World War, she volunteered to serve overseas as a nurse where she worked long, emotionally and physically exhausting shifts on the battlefield. Following her wartime nursing experiences, Edith returned to her home community in Six Nations, Ontario, and continued to advocate for improved Indigenous healthcare in Canada
Earlier this week, I presented Janet McKenzie, a First Nations nurse from Stanley Mission in northern Saskatchewan, with one of the three Awards of Excellence in Nursing. Following in the footsteps of those before her, Janet is just one example of the hardworking, driven Indigenous nurses in Canada showing their tremendous dedication to serving the community elders and improving the health and wellness of Indigenous peoples. Janet advocates for and understands the importance of her clients remaining independent in their own homes, for as long as they are able to stay there.
Today, there are Indigenous nurses practising all over Canada. Indigenous Services Canada continues to work with First Nations and Inuit partners, leaders and communities as well as the provinces and territories to support cultural training opportunities and to increase the capacity of Indigenous professionals pursuing careers in healthcare. We recognize the right to self-determination and that Indigenous nurses and other healthcare workers are an essential part of promoting and providing culturally-safe care.
I encourage you all to take some time today to honour the great achievements of Indigenous nurses, and to thank them for their unique contributions to improving the health of Canadians.”