Through the uncertainties of the current COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have remained steadfast in their tireless commitment to provide high-quality testing, care and treatment to anyone needing medical attention. In Indigenous communities, nurses continue to work selflessly on the frontlines to improve First Nations and Inuit health through culturally safe and community-centered medical care, services and supports.
Today, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) announced the three 2020 recipients of the Awards of Excellence in Nursing. During these awards, the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) celebrates the dedication, initiative and distinction of nurses who are providing essential healthcare to First Nations and Inuit across the country. Every year, frontline nurses are nominated by their peers to receive this award for their exceptional work in First Nations and Inuit communities. The three recipients are determined based on their commitment to their nursing practice through sound judgement, professionalism and culturally appropriate healthcare work.
These awards are typically held annually during National Nursing Week in May, but due to the unprecedented global circumstances, the event was postponed. This year, recipients were recognized for their unwavering and outstanding efforts, compassion and contributions in delivering culturally relevant healthcare to First Nations and Inuit:
- Brenda Moodie, an Anishinabek nurse from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and a strong advocate for her clients to receive quality care while maintaining their dignity and their freedom of choice in their health and wellness journey.
- Sharon Collins, a northern-based nurse whose diverse medical experience in Inuit communities on the Hudson Bay altered her preconceived notion of her purpose as a health professional, while encouraging her to practice a holistic approach to healthcare.
- Deborah Lynn Whitney-Hambleton, a respected and admired ISC employed nurse who believed in merging Western medicine with Indigenous traditional healing practices. Although Deborah has sadly passed away, her legacy lives on in the patients she diligently cared for, the family and friends she loved and the work she dedicated her life to.
2020 was marked as the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to commemorate nurses’ critical roles in healthcare in the past, present and future. Now more than ever, there is a need for strong healthcare professionals. Nurses have risen to the occasion, demonstrating dedication to the health and wellness needs of Indigenous peoples and communities.
Nurses are much more than the face of healthcare; they’re the beating heart that keeps our systems running. For that, we are eternally grateful. To the three recipients and to all nurses across Canada, we thank you for your countess sacrifices that have allowed communities to stay safe and healthy during this pandemic and beyond.
“Over recent months, we’ve seen unparalleled efforts by nurses to deliver healthcare with compassion and integrity in ever-changing and trying times. But through it all, nurses have remained the foundation that upholds and supports necessary healthcare in Indigenous communities. Today, I offer my sincerest congratulations to Brenda Moodie, Sharon Collins and Deborah Lynn Whitney-Hambleton (in memoriam) for their tremendous contributions to nursing and to serving First Nations and Inuit communities.”
The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services