Indigenous Nurses Day

Information provided by

Catherine Tanski (Kitselas/Kitsumkalum Nation), RN,
Indigenous Leadership Circle Chair, BC Nurses’ Union.
Christina Chakanyuka (Métis), RN, MN, PhD Student,
University of Victoria.
Nikki Rose Hunter Porter (St’uxwtews),, RN, MN Student,
Thompson Rivers University.
Michelle Padley (Métis), RN, MN Student,
Thompson Rivers University.
Mona Lisa Bourque Bearskin (Beaver Lake Cree Nation), RN, PhD, BC
Chair Indigenous Health Research in Nursing,
Associate Professor, Thompson Rivers University.


Nurses Week is upcoming this spring and routinely celebrated worldwide during the week of May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale. In light of provincial and national efforts to dismantle a widely recognized colonial healthcare system, many Indigenous nurses are calling for Indigenous Nurses Day to be held separate and apart from mainstream Nurses Week. From an Indigenous health viewpoint, Nightingale built the nursing model largely upon paternalistic and colonial views, and her nursing reign was not only during the height of colonization from the British Empire upon Indigenous populations, including residential schools. To add further, it was Nightingale’s research which served as the template for nursing models implemented throughout Canadian Indian hospitals. It is our collective position that continuing to celebrate Florence Nightingale as the “beacon of nursing” does a disservice to Indigenous nurses who do not align with her vision. New Zealand nurses have already taken a position on this.

Beginning this year, the British Columbia Nurses Union will be hosting a digital Indigenous Nurses Day in BC on April 10 & 11 to promote the recognition of our past, present, and future Indigenous nurses.  This event is in the spirit of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples and upholding the In Plain Sight Report detailing entrenched racism in healthcare. We aim to elevate the platform for Indigenous nurses and bring attention to their important role in improving the health and culture for our patients and communities. 

Download the Indigenous Nurses Day Poster here. (PDF)

Download the Event Schedule here (PDF)

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