Meaningful gathering celebrating Indigenous Nurses Day brings together Indigenous nurses at various stages of their careers.

On April 10th, Indigenous nurses and nursing students gathered to commemorate Indigenous Nurses Day, coinciding with the birthday of Canada’s first Indigenous nurse, Edith Monture.

This celebration has typically been incorporated into Nurses Week, aligned with the birthday of Florence Nightingale. The intentional choice of celebrating on April 10th signifies an Indigenized shift in recognizing and honouring Indigenous nurses distinctly.

The gathering was a meaningful occasion, bringing together Indigenous nurses spanning various stages of their careers—seasoned professionals with three decades of experience, those embarking on their journey, and eager nursing students. It served as an important moment of sharing and reflection, building relationships and solidarity within the Indigenous nursing community.

Beyond the festivities, the gathering initiated early discussions about the creation of an Indigenous Nurse Mentorship Program—a collaborative initiative aimed at providing support and guidance tailored to the specific needs, strengths, and cultures of Indigenous nursing students and professionals. This initiative emphasizes the importance of nurturing future generations of Indigenous healthcare leaders and fostering a sense of community and empowerment within the profession.

Indigenous peoples (including nurses and nursing students) should be considered as experts on Indigenous health and well-being to advance cultural security and authentically integrate Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being into health and healing. A mentorship program that centres on cultural strengths and building relationships creates an empowering environment for Indigenous nurses and nursing students to grow and thrive. Events such as Indigenous Nurses Day are an important step in honouring the enduring presence and contributions of Indigenous nurses of the past, present, and future.

– Josée Lavallée Red River Michif, member of MMF Bison Local (Director of the Office of Social Accountability, Faculty Lecturer Indigenous Health)