May 12, 2022, is International Nurses’ Day and marks the beginning of National Nursing Week.
The Cree Board of Health and Social Services would like to recognize our nurses, working across all nine communities and beyond, for their dedication to providing the best possible care to our clients. Their work is invaluable in the fight against COVID-19 as well.
All of our CMCs and the Chisasibi Regional Hospital would be unable to operate without our nurses. The current shortage of nurses in our region, the province and beyond shows how important they are. Nurses are working on the front line of our health care system and are among those who felt the full brunt of a health crisis that has lasted two years and is ongoing. We are grateful for their tireless efforts and dedication.
We would also like to take the opportunity to honour our Cree nurses. Your contribution is important to improving the quality of care and equity for our clients.
On Indigenous Nurses Day, which took place on April 10, our Director of Professional Services & Quality Assurance – Health, Nancy Shecapio-Blacksmith, one of the first Cree nurses to serve our population, (CK) encouraged youth to follow her in the profession: You are our future, and we will support you to reach your goals and dreams.”
“I would like people to know that it is a time to acknowledge and to show our appreciation to all our nurses, whether they work at the CMC, Chisasibi Hospital, Wiichihituuwin offices or Public Health, for their expertise, professionalism and dedication to keeping us healthy.
Nurses are the heart and backbone of the health-care system. They face many challenges daily but overcome them with their courage, knowledge, and strength.” – Nancy Shecapio-Blacksmith, Director of Professional Services & Quality Assurance - Health
Joshua Loon: The National Nursing Week (Canadian version) is a time to celebrate our nurses. It will be held from May 9-15, 2022.
Nancy Shecapio-Blacksmith: I would like people to know that it is a time to acknowledge and to show our appreciation to all our nurses whether they work at the CMCs, Chisasibi hospital, Wiichihituuwin offices, and Public Health for their expertise, professionalism and dedication to keeping us healthy.
Being a nurse, especially a Cree nurse for me is very special and rewarding. Since I was 14, I wanted to become a nurse after being inspired by my late grandmother Charlotte from Mistissini because I felt so much empathy towards her due to her painful arthritis. I wanted to be her nurse, but unfortunately, she passed away years before I became a nurse. Over the years I worked in obstetrics and emergency at the Chibougamau hospital, as a liaison nurse at CPS Chibougamau and Montreal, and as a flight nurse for Air Creebec and the CHB charter. As you can see, I worked in a variety of settings. My heart and passion is being a bedside nurse especially in a hospital setting. I always felt great when I went home even if I had a busy, stressful day because of the people I got to take care of and the great team of other nurses and healthcare professionals I worked with. Right now, I am the Director of Nursing for the CHB in the 9 Cree communities. It is a huge responsibility and I think it’s great to have a Cree Director of Nursing that understands our past experiences and traumas, and where we want to head in the future, which is healing and deciding on our own what we want and how we will operate.
The history: in 1971, the International Council of Nurses designated May 12 as the International Nurses Day. This day is special because it is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who was the first nurse. She is the founder of modern nursing. Her experiences as a nurse during the Crimean war (1854-56) were foundations in her views about sanitation. She improved the unsanitary conditions at a British based hospital and thus greatly reducing the death count. In 1985, the Canadian Association of Nurses members passed a resolution to begin negotiations with the federal government to have the week containing May 12 proclaimed as National Nurses Week annually. Soon after, the federal minister of health proclaimed the 2nd week of May as the International Nurses Week. In 1993, the name was changed to National Nursing Week to emphasize the profession and accomplishments as a discipline. In the US, they commemorated National Nurses Week in 1953.
The roles and responsibilities of a nurse are very important for a variety of reasons. As nurses are at the front line of the COVID-19 outbreak response and are exposed to hazards that put them at risk of infection, it is vital that they are supported to protect themselves with specific infection prevention procedures and sufficient provision of protective gear at their practice settings, including ventilators, masks, robes, eye cover, face shields, and gloves.- Nurses are now actively involved in COVID-19 interventions, and they will remain key players in stopping the pandemic with adequate assistance. Thus, they must be provided with a healthy work environment to empower their efforts to control and manage the outbreak. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. Without them, most hospitals and clinics wouldn’t be able to function without the assistance from nurses. Nurses provide care to the patient and they also do administrative tasks. Most recently, the demands of an increasingly complex healthcare industry have meant that in this new landscape the role of nurses has changed, and those who hold a bachelor’s degree are best equipped to act as care providers and patient advocates. Increasingly, employers are recognizing that Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Bachelor of Nursing degree-holders are the most qualified individuals to meet the growing need for nurses nationwide. In the province of Quebec, we have 80, 491 registered nurses. 58.5% of them hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This is an increase compared to 10-20 years ago.
Yes. I want our people to please take the time to thank our nurses when you see them. They put a lot of effort and dedication into making us healthy. They sacrifice a lot of their time and many have been exhausted or burnt out since the covid pandemic. We have experienced a shortage of nurses in our CMCs and the Chisasibi hospital .
I also want to encourage everyone to take care of their health. If it is not urgent, you can always contact the 811 toll-free number. There will be another nurse on the line to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
I also want to acknowledge and thank the council of nurses for allocating their surplus to the 9 CMCs and the Chisasibi hospital to help celebrate nurses’ week. I also want to thank all our nurses in the various departments within the CHB for their dedication and hard work. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to operate our clinics, our offices and the hospital.
On a final note, I want to encourage our youth to pursue careers in nursing. You are our future, and we will support you to reach your goals and dreams. We have began discussions with John Abbott College and the Cree School Board in a partnership to ensure that you meet the pre-requisites, and the general courses such as humanties, phys.ed, English and French at the college level. We are also talking about being a student for a day at JAC.
I also want to promote other health professions that you could pursue such as a doctor, a dentist, a pharmacist, a respiratory therapist, an occupational therapist, a nutritionist, a psychologist or psychiatrist, and so on. Right now, we have about 34 Cree nurses that are registered with the OIQ who work in a variety of settings whether it is the front lines (CMC or hospital), in administration or management positions.