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Legacy of National Nursing Leadership continues at the Canadian Nurses Association AGM, by Julie Fraser, RN, MN

Your voice is our strength.

You may have heard this statement used by ARNBC many times over the last four years. I saw this statement come to life with the nurses that attended the June 2014 Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Annual General meeting.

Annual general meetings (AGM) for any organization are often considered required, routine, and unremarkable. The CNA AGM held in Winnipeg on June 16th was different. The stakes were high for the profession of nursing in Canada as an omnibus motion on new bylaws for CNA was brought forward for discussion and decision.  These new CNA bylaws are necessary to ensure compliance with changes made to the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act – without them, our National Association could not legally continue to operate.

In the six months leading up to the AGM, many B.C. nurses were actively involved in the preparation and discussion of the new bylaws and governance structure of CNA. A full voting delegation of 38 B.C. nurses* participated in a “Special meeting of Members” in January. This virtual electronic meeting allowed for a nation-wide discussion and decision on the voting rights and membership classes of CNA. The decisions at this meeting resulted in a more equitable voting structure for all the provinces, territories and other classes of members as well as the introduction of students, retired nurses, and independent nurses as voting members.

Of the 500 nurses who attended the CNA AGM, there were 14 B.C. nurses**. The delegation included a variety of nurses – some new to ARNBC and CNA activities and some with experience, ARNBC network leads and current and past board directors and a union board member. They brought perspectives from clinical practice, education, administration, and research.  This dynamic group connected with other B.C. nurses attending the convention and had a preparatory discussion the day before the AGM to understand the motions and resolutions and to meet the candidates for CNA President Elect.

B.C. nurses continued the legacy of national nursing leadership at the AGM through their powerful and thoughtful comments to the AGM assembly, the moving and seconding of motions, and their commitment as a voting delegate. The outcomes of the June 2014 CNA AGM were:

  • Compliance of the CNA bylaws with the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act and ability for CNA to file for continuance.
  • Passing of resolutions which articulated the need to address racism and discrimination and improve the equity and access to health care for Aboriginal people; as well as a commitment to ensure that Aboriginal histories and cultural safety competencies are represented in nursing programs, exams, and program review processes.
  • Election of the new CNA President Elect Barb Shellian
  • Visit http://cna-aiic.ca/en/about-cna/annual-meeting-2014 to review CNA's summary of the AGM.

Of special note, two B.C. student nurses attended the CNA Board meeting and AGM as part of the ARNBC Student mentorship experience. They were two of only four students who attended the meeting and the convention.

Perhaps the most impactful part of trip was my attendance at the CNA board meeting.  Not only did I get a glimpse of the inner workings of a national organization, but I saw excellent leadership in action, learning and observing the importance of accessibility, humility, communication, and confidence.  This experience helped build a meaningful connection to my future professional organization.  I left inspired and excited  with new knowledge, skills, and networks that will likely change the course of my future.  -- Melissa Leveque

I have endless memorable moments from the CNA convention, including not only the powerful keynote speakers, the productivity of the board meetings and AGM, but also the informal connections and conversations that occurred throughout. Some things cannot be taught in a classroom and belonging to an association of nurses, with all of its limitless potential, is certainly one of those things. The aspect that made the greatest impact on me was the opportunity to meet some extraordinary nurse leaders and being inspired to join them on their path of advocacy and action.  -- Julia Hensler

Their reflections on both meetings were insightful, and will be pivotal in helping ARNBC further define our student engagement strategies.

The theme for the biennium convention was – explore, reflect, design, act.  The convention went beyond a networking event - I witnessed the confidence boosting of nurses at the leadership forum, the validation of expert practice with the release of the pan Canadian CNS competencies, the recognition of nurses’ lifetime contributions with the awards of excellence – to name just a few of the impactful experiences. Most importantly, I heard nurses across the country discuss important national health issues and identify solutions – access to essential pharmaceuticals, improved equity and access to health care for Aboriginal people, protection of the blood supply, and support for our publicly-funded health care system.  Dr. Karima Velji in her Presidential address committed to unleashing the power of the registered nurse and focusing the action of the CNA on priority health issues.

I look forward to seeing the contributions B.C. nurses will make to these issues and the further strengthening of our national association.

Your voice TRULY is our strength.  

*  Jan 2014 delegation:
Berlanda, Christina
Burton, Pamela
Canitz, Brenda
Davidson, Christine
Duncan, Susan
Finley, Jo-Anne
Fiore, Pasquale
Fraser, Julie
Fong, Maylene
Fort, Johanne
Gauthier, Margaret
Guy, Shelley
Harrison, Scott
Isaac, Stacey
Ilczaszyn, Liz
Kensall, Sherri
Lennox, Janine
Maclaren, Joanne
Marchuk, Stan
Martin, Cat
Mason, Shawn
Matheson-Parkhill, Jennifer
McLeod, Bonnie
Mok, Keilee
Nicholson, Donna
Rampersaud, Patricia
Reimer-Kent, Jocelyn
Robertson, Trudy
Rodney, Patricia
Semeniuk, Pat
Starck, Andrea
Stam, Andrew Robert
Tatlock, Rubyna
Thorne, Sally
Trask, Michelle
von Tettenborn, Linda

** June 2014 delegation:
Burton, Pam
Dick, Tania
Duncan, Susan
Eng, Michelle
Fiore, Pasquale
Fong, Maylene
Fraser, Julie
Kerrivan, Melina
Maclaren, Joanne
Reimer-Kent, Jocelyn
Salamat, Karen
Sanders, Tanya
Sorensen, Christine
Thorne, Sally


Julie Fraser is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the area of Home Care. She has been a registered nurse for more than 15 years and has practiced in a number of different settings from residential care to acute medical and surgical care units, before focusing on community nursing, working in both clinical and educator roles.

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Sally Thorne

Great report, Julie. These have been such challenging times for nursing in BC, and it is inspiring to see the work that so many great nurses have been doing to take us forward into more effective ways to do what we do best - strengthen systems and services to meet the needs of British Columbian patients. It is wonderful to see the collective courage, the collaboration, and the spirit of optimism that nurses share, despite the challenges that continue. May the light continue to shine bright!


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