The regional conference is expected to involve over 200 nursing students who attend schools in western Canada, which includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories and will be running October 22-24, 2020.
Amber Hunter and Kim Walker are the fourth year nursing students leading the team as co-directors of the conference. They and their team of fellow NIC nursing students were inspired to host the conference because they saw a real difference between the NIC nursing program and the experiences of other students at different institutions.
“We realized that we are really lucky to be at NIC,” explained Hunter. “The NIC nursing program is leading the way on Indigenous-led initiatives and promoting cultural safety for Indigenous peoples.”
The goal for the regional conference is to promote cultural safety among nursing students and to educate on the harmful effects of colonization of the Indigenous people.
The conference will showcase the work of many leaders in nursing including NIC faculty members Heidi Deagle, Joanna Fraser, Liz McKay and Dr. Evelyn Voyageur and NIC Elder in Residence, June Johnson.
The logo used for the conference was also designed by Karver Everson, who is an Indigenous artist and NIC Fine Arts alum.
Hunter and Walker worked for several months on the conference planning, preparing to host about 200 students at NIC, but when COVID-19 became an issue they were forced to change their plans.
“We had to pull a complete 180 degree turn when COVID-19 hit,” said Hunter. “Nursing networking is a really important piece for these conferences, to allow students to connect with others from different programs and share ideas and best practices, so we needed to find a digital way to allow for that interaction.”
The students opted to use the online event app Whova. Speakers will be presented through live video, pre-recorded sessions or a combination of the two.
Their work on this virtual conference has allowed them to realize what an opportunity digital conferences can provide.
“In future years, we hope that CNSA will offer a hybrid model, where people can attend both in person and virtually,” said Hunter. “Offering a virtual conference means it is more accessible to more students and we think that is a really great opportunity for the CNSA. This year’s conference fee has been lowered to only $20, while in person conference fees normally are over $100, plus travel and accommodation costs.”
Proceeds from the conference will be directed into the Dr. Evelyn Voyageur Nursing bursary for NIC Indigenous nursing students.
Both Hunter and Walker feel they have been changed by the work they have done and see that it will influence how their nursing careers will unfold in the future.
“I feel honoured to have the opportunity to put this conference together and I have become very passionate about promoting equitable healthcare and addressing systemic racism within our health care system,” said Walker.
To learn more about the CNSA Western Prairie Regional Conference visit https://whova.com/web/cwprc_202010/ for details.
For more information about NIC’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program visit www.nic.bc.ca/health for details.