North Island College nursing students are paying it forward, donating $10,000 to a new bursary to support future nursing students at the college.
Kim Walker and Amber Hunter led a team of nursing students to organize the first-ever, all-digital Western Prairie Regional Conference for the Canadian Nursing Students Association (CNSA) last fall.
The team was comprised of second-, third- and fourth-year students who volunteered time to the conference. Funds were raised from registration fees, as the conference involved 276 participants—many more than expected. The theme of the conference was Uplifting Indigenous Voices, and speakers were focused on ensuring cultural safety in healthcare.
“When we switched the conference online, it made it more challenging to find ways to support the local Indigenous communities,” said Walker. “One way we managed this, though, even in an online conference was that we used the Lil’ Red Dress Project pins as gifts for the conference speakers. We were also thrilled to feature designs from Karver Everson, for the pin and also for the conference logo. This donation really brings the work of the conference full circle to now looking ahead to supporting future students.”
The new bursary is also an opportunity to honour Dr. Evelyn Voyageur for all she has done, noted Hunter.
“When you look at the work she has done through her career – it’s incredibly inspiring,” said Hunter. “We also wanted to thank her for the work that she has done for us as part of this conference. She helped us out immensely, and ended up acting as a mentor for us.”
Voyageur has shaped the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum at NIC, focusing on providing opportunities for nursing students to go to remote Indigenous communities and connect with members of those communities. Her focus on Indigenization and the importance of relationship building has shaped a generation of nurses who have graduated from the program.
“Hand in hand, we learn together toward a healthier world,” said Voyageur. “I truly believe our approach helps our students to be better nurses. Where our graduates are working you hear nothing but praise. It makes me very proud.”
Voyageur’s work has been recognized nationwide, including an Indspire Award for Indigenous Health Promotion, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College of Registered Nurses of BC, and being named one of the top 150 nurses across Canada. She was the first Indigenous nurse to receive an Award of Excellence in Nursing from Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Branch. She continues to teach as part of the BSN faculty, and supports students through her role as an Elder in Residence. The recipient of this bursary will be a student entering the BSN program, with first preference given to an Indigenous student.
NIC students can apply online until April 27 to be considered for a scholarship or bursary.
“We are incredibly thankful to these students for choosing to support this bursary, which will provide ongoing financial assistance for NIC students,” said Garry Griffin, NIC Foundation board chair. “The Evelyn Voyageur Nursing Bursary fund is an example of how a tribute gift honours those who are passionate about education and helping young people. Dr. Voyageur will be recognized and celebrated for generations to come.”
The foundation has been advancing student success, education and community growth through NIC for more than 29 years. It supports students through scholarships and bursaries, equips classrooms with technology, and ensures the best possible learning facilities are accessible on the Central and North Island. It envisions a future where every student has the opportunity to pursue post‐secondary education, train for a new career, or develop employable skills to support themselves and their families.
To support the NIC Foundation and make a difference in the lives of post‐secondary students, call 250-334-5074 or visit foundation.nic.bc.ca.