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The Journey: An interview with Danielle Bourque

May 30, 2017
Interviewed by Guylaine Spencer


Above: Danielle Bourque

The Journey” is a new 20-minute documentary about three young Indigenous nurses who are working to improve health care for Indigenous people in Canada.  The film, made by Vlyte Media and Ward 1 Studios, supports the “One Million in One Year” campaign which is part of the Canadian Nurses Foundation’s effort to address health care inequity in Canada.

One of the young nurses in the film is Danielle Bourque, who will be starting her Masters degree in nursing at McMaster this fall. Danielle earned her BScN degree at the University of Alberta. She has worked at the Enoch Health Centre on the Enoch Cree Nation, near Edmonton. She also volunteered in Jamaica for the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development (ICAD) on a special initiative addressing the global HIV/AIDS crisis. We asked Danielle to share some of her own journey with us...

Q: Danielle, why did you choose McMaster for your graduate degree?

I decided on applying to McMaster University Masters program because of their areas of excellence in Health Equity and Disparity. When I was researching universities for my masters, I felt an instant connection when reading about how McMaster’s Nursing Graduate program was paving a way in research for health equity, something I did not see with any other institution I was interested in.  

Q: What topics do you plan to study?

The focus areas I proposed for my thesis were health equity and disparity within Indigenous populations. My specific interests within this broad topic are two-fold. The first topic I want to explore is Indigenous nursing students’ experience in post-secondary education, identifying improvement areas for recruitment and retention of Indigenous nursing students, how to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing into nursing curricula to Indigenize curriculum and to promote cultural safe nursing practice. The second topic would explore the identified inequities experienced in circumpolar and isolated Indigenous communities and how these two topics influence each other to improve health equity and disparities in Indigenous communities.

Q: What do you plan to do after you graduate?

Obtaining a master’s degree has always been in my long-term career goals. I wish to continue to be an advocate for Indigenous populations and health, and instigate systematic change to ultimately improve health access and promote positive health outcomes for all Indigenous people. That is why this project is so important to me. It has allowed for the voices of three Indigenous nursing leaders to be heard. As well, the documentary is highlighted as an awareness tool, and I think thus far it has raised quite a bit of attention and awareness in such a short time. The focus on Indigenous Health in the healthcare system and in the education of future nurses is on the rise in Canada, but an increase in Indigenous representation in nursing leadership is also needed. This role is needed to focus on Indigenous health, cultural implications, and equity ensuring that Indigenous people are taken into consideration throughout decision-making and that Indigenous health continues to be a top priority. With graduate education, I hope to continue to advocate that Indigenous health not only be a top priority in Canada, but in nursing curricula.

Ultimately, there is a clear gap that exists in creating culturally competent nurses working with Indigenous populations if it is not properly being addressed at an undergraduate level. As a knowledge keeper for my community, I am striving for a higher level of education to speak to the complexity of the Indigenous issue, and to become a voice for my population to be able to give back. One of my future aspirations is to be able to mentor new nurses in how to be culturally safe, whether this is through creating resources for universities or becoming a faculty instructor. I strongly support mentorship in nursing, as I would not be in the position I am in today without mentorship. Hopefully in the future I will find myself in a mentorship position for future nursing students and be able to pass along my knowledge.

You can watch “The Journey” online at: 

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