Canada's Original Think Tank

Canadian Indigenous Nurses

Canadian Indigenous Nurses

Canadian Indigenous Nurses

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: 

Honourable senators, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association, CINA, is an organization dedicated to improving the health of Indigenous peoples by supporting Indigenous nurses and by promoting the development and practice of Indigenous health nursing. Yesterday, May 9, was Indigenous Nurses Day. In honour of Indigenous Nurses Day and the celebration of National Nursing Week, I rise today to recognize and thank Indigenous nurses across Canada for their service.

I also wish to thank the President of CINA, Lea Bill, the Executive Director, Marilee Nowgesic, Consultant and Senior Advisor, Isabelle Wallace, and Strategic Advisor, Arlene Wortsman, along with the rest of the members of CINA for the invaluable support they give to Indigenous nurses across Canada. Their support allows Canadian Indigenous nurses to heal their patients in an effective, holistic and culturally appropriate manner while helping to secure a place for Indigenous health nursing in Canadian health care.

CINA was officially formed in 1975 by several nurses who came together to pool their skills, education and cultural heritages to ultimately improve what they witnessed first-hand as Indigenous caregivers to Indigenous people. They witnessed the appalling overall health conditions faced by their own people.

At first, like most newly formed associations, membership was small. Additionally, membership recruitment was difficult as back then there was no registry in existence to help locate nurses according to their ancestry. Thankfully, two proponents of the organization, nurses Jocelyn Bruyere and Jean Goodwill, through word of mouth and a lot of networking, were able to develop a preliminary list of Indigenous nurses and membership that has been growing ever since.

In Canada, Indigenous nurses are in a very unique position as they are able to bridge traditional medicine and Western medicine; they have the ability to apply Indigenous nursing knowledge and ways of knowing in their work environments and in working in their communities. Let us offer our congratulations to Indigenous nurses who have improved health care to the benefit of Indigenous people and other Canadians.

Thank you, Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association and your members, the Indigenous nurses, for all that you do.