Canada’s next generation of nurses should graduate with a deeper understanding of colonialism’s impacts on Indigenous people’s health, thanks to a new series of workshops offered by the national accrediting body for nursing education.
The five free Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) workshops are taught by the six Canadian Institutes of Health Research Chairs of Indigenous Health in Nursing who co-designed the series: Holly Graham, Amélie Blanchet Garneau, Wanda Phillips-Beck, Jason Hickey, Mona Lisa Bourque Bearskin and Margot Latimer. The two-hour long voluntary workshops are intended to assist nursing faculties with meeting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s calls to action, released in 2015.
Following the death of Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman who died in a Quebec hospital in 2020, CASN was engaged in a series of national dialogues with the Government of Canada on addressing anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s health care system. Cynthia Baker, executive director of CASN, said over the next two years the organization began work to improve students’ understanding of racism, implement anti-racism interventions and provide culturally safe care.
“There’s a world of evidence that currently the care Indigenous people receive is not culturally safe and that has been evidenced by really unfavourable health outcomes,” said Dr. Baker.
CASN collaborated with the chairs to review and strengthen its accreditation guideline that nursing schools implement Action 24, which calls on schools to require students to take a course in Indigenous health issues and provide skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism. The six chairs co-designed the workshop series with CASN to encourage nursing faculties to meet the new standard.
Dr. Graham, a faculty member in the department of nursing at the University of Saskatchewan, said that the programming is designed to provide fundamental tools and resources for integrating anti-racism and decolonial practices into nursing education. “What we’re trying to teach is a process, and to share best practices and some envisioning for the future,” she said.
As a member of the Thunderchild First Nation and daughter of a residential school survivor, Dr. Graham views the new programming and accreditation guideline as a hopeful indicator of progress towards advancing reconciliation in health care. “For the first time, we have a chance to redress this history,” said Dr. Graham. “Never before have we had this willingness and opportunity – and it doesn’t stop at call to action 24.”