Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC
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NNPBC is a not for profit society registered in the province of British Columbia in September, 2018

Policy & Advocacy: Health Awareness / Nursing Leadership

National Indigenous Peoples Day: June 21, 2019

In 1996, the Government of Canada called for June 21st to be known as "National Indigenous Peoples Day". The day is marked as a celebration of the cultural heritage, contributions and uniqueness of all of Canada's Indigenous Peoples.

NNPBC undertakes our corporate activities with the frame of the historical responsibility of Canada's settlers, and we will continue to do so with an understanding of the need for reconciliation. Board, councils and staff take part in regular workshops during which the group focuses on cultural humility and reconciliation. We are honoured to be led through these workshops by Aline LaFlamme, Metis Elder.

We share some of Aline's recommended resources below. As you review these resources consider these words from Aline: "Go gently into the learning."

Resources:

Video: This video helps us see what happens to our characters when we have too much power, or when we are shamed into believing we are inferior.

Reading Materials:
  • The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
  • Clearing the Plains by Daniel Daschuk
  • The Other Slavery by Andres Resendez
  • Unsettling the Settler Within by Paulette Regan
The above books provide excellent information, but please be aware there are some details that the uninformed may find shocking.

Reference Material:

Please contact us at info@nnpbc.com if you are struggling with any of the above material so that we may put you in touch with someone who can provide guidance and perspective.

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Lyanne Gaspard, RN

Where do you work?

I currently work at Central Interior Native Health Services (CINHS) as an RN (c). I am Secwépemc and Cree, but I grew up in the Prince George area.
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Lyanne Gaspard, RN

What do you love most about nursing?

I love nursing because it gives me a chance to work directly with the Indigenous population of Prince George and surrounding communities. The people who come to our clinic struggle as a result of colonialism, residential schools, non-Indigenous foster homes and cultural genocide. This has resulted in higher than average mental illness rates such as depression, suicide, hopelessness, substance use as well as sexual and physical abuse. The harms done to the Indigenous population have been brought forth by the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and this report is only the beginning. My hope is that Canada will focus on the recommendations from the report in order to repair the harms done to Indigenous people. My hope is to one day find balance in my personal life and bring culture and teachings that I have lost to my descendants.
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June Shackley, RN, Nlaka’pamux First Nations from the Nooaitch Reserve of the Nicola Valley in Merritt B.C.

How did you enter the field of nursing?

My first introduction into healthcare was as a Nurses Aid in the Coqualeetza TB Hospital in Sardis caring for Aboriginal children. Although I had never had any other experiences in a hospital, I wanted to be a nurse. After graduation, I completed the one-year Licensed Practical Nursing program in Vancouver. My first job was at St. Paul's Hospital then with Richmond and Maple Ridge General Hospitals. I loved it! Back then I favoured pediatrics and obstetrics but didn't hesitate to float to other areas when I was called to.

In 1980, I decided to move back to Merritt where it was difficult to find work in my field. After working as a teacher's aid for a short time, I was a successful applicant for a Community Health Care Rep (CHR) on reserve for a local band. After that, when the opportunity came I decided to go back to school to become an RN.
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June Shackley, RN, Nlaka’pamux First Nations from the Nooaitch Reserve of the Nicola Valley in Merritt B.C.

What do you love most about nursing?

I love being able to continue to learn. It was this ability to keep learning and challenging myself as well as an RN colleague named Saraphine Stewart that helped me make the decision to undertake an RN program. While it was difficult, my children and my nursing student colleagues pushed me to continue. I graduated in 1989 at 42! When I look back I still wonder how I ever got through those years. I cooked, baked, canned, cleaned and did laundry in between hockey practices and games on the weekends. My kids were great and helped me so much.
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June Shackley, RN, Nlaka’pamux First Nations from the Nooaitch Reserve of the Nicola Valley in Merritt B.C.

What positions have you held in nursing?

I started my RN career in Long Term Care until I was offered a weekend permanent part-time position at the Nicola Valley General Hospital in Merritt. That was a challenge in many ways. As a rural hospital, nurses rotated to all areas of the 45-bed hospital including ER. It was a real eye-opener, from the traumas in the ER, the fast deliveries in the case room, psychiatric cases in the locked room, overcrowded rooms and on call doctors coming in from the outskirts of town.

Although I considered jumping ship more than a few times, I loved my experiences, but ER was particularly memorable. We saw cardiac arrests, MVA's, gunshot wounds, overdoses and much more. One winter day I received a call from a lady in labour saying she was on her way up. She presented at the ER entrance and when the car door flew open, she handed me her steaming baby and jumped out of the car with the umbilical cord still attached! Everyone was fine but needless to say the physician didn't always arrive in time for deliveries.

After working there for 12 years, the hospital was reduced from 45 to eight beds and I was laid off. I then went to work for at Pine Acres Home Extended Care on Reserve in Westbank. I loved working there for 10 fulfilling years. At the point that RNs were laid off, I decided to retire from full-time work.
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June Shackley, RN, Nlaka’pamux First Nations from the Nooaitch Reserve of the Nicola Valley in Merritt B.C.

What are your reflections from your past experiences and how those experiences have impacted your nursing?

I was five years old when I was taken to the Indian Residential school in Lytton. For nine years it was drilled into me that Indians were 'no good and lazy'. I was told I was never going to amount to anything and I was whipped for speaking my language. At 14 I attended a public school in Merritt where sadly I experienced prejudices from teachers, students and merchants. I was already convinced that I wasn't as good as them, and definitely not smart. I agreed that I wasn't academic material and moved into the General Program in high school.

It wasn't until after completing the RN program that I realized the connection between my severe insecurities and the residential school nightmare I lived through. After graduation I was afraid to work because 'I might make a horrible mistake'. I borrowed money to attend the Pursuit of Excellence program to get an inside view of myself and hopefully gain some self-confidence. That is where my healing began.

Discrimination didn't end when I became a nurse. Sadly, I was discriminated against by other nurses, patients and doctors. One day, a physician said "get me a real nurse", so I announced the request to the whole hospital. Later he apologized to me in the lunchroom with others present. That felt good and it felt empowering to have regained some of the confidence I lacked as a youth. The reality is for me the past 30 years have been a process of self-healing.

It was ten years ago that the BC Nurses Union (BCNU) realized a need for Human Rights and Equity groups. There was some resistance, but we got four caucus groups organized who meet biannually. These include: Indigenous Nurses, Workers of Colour, LGBTQAI2S+ and Workers with Disabilities.

A friend and I started presentations we named "Healing Through Story Telling". We talk about how things were before Reservations were formed, about Indian Residential Schools and how they severely affected our people. I tell MY story. I continue to do the presentations as often and to as many places as I can get myself invited to. I've presented at nursing conventions, high schools, elementary schools and work places. As a survivor, I was invited to join the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) as an Elder. Until recently I had no traditional teachings and am learning as much as I can now.

Today, at 73 I am still employed at the Long-Term Care Facility in Merritt and am now considered The Elder for BCNU. I still love working and am very proud to be a nurse.