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Nahanni Fontaine, MLA St. Johns
May 17, 2017

Aboriginal Practical Nursing Program

I'm honoured to acknowledge the 20 all-female indigenous students enrolled in the Assiniboine Community College's Aboriginal practical nursing program in Portage la Prairie, alongside their dedicated instructors.

I was thrilled to visit the students on campus, experiencing first-hand the phenomenal classroom programming, which includes adult and newborn health-care training mannequins that I was allowed to poke and prod at. I was fascinated to find out, Madam Speaker, there are actually mannequins that repeatedly give birth over and over again, training new nurses in birthing methods, those poor things.

This program is a great example of training indigenous women in areas having transformative results not only in their own lives, but in the lives of indigenous peoples across Manitoba.

Most of the students are mothers, Madam Speaker. One of the students is a mother of nine children. In the fall, one student quietly gave birth to her baby on a Wednesday and was back at school on the Monday.

Several students shared why the program is so important to them, indicating they wanted to honour their family's members once engaged and dependent on our health-care system, others simply for the love of our people. I received a message after my visit from a student which I believe best highlights the program, and I quote: For seven years, I have been seeking entry into every and every nursing program in Manitoba, every time faced with an obstacle that ultimately defeated me. I became pregnant at an early age. I had no choice but to move to a small town in rural Manitoba. It felt like a death sentence for my nursing dream. I was too pregnant, too par– too poor and too far away. I nearly accepted my fate until the APN program was born. Now I am a straight-A student. If I had been told two years ago where I would be right now, excelling at nursing school, I wouldn't have believed it.

Madam Speaker, when we lift up indigenous women, we lift up ourselves as Manitobans, and this program, I believe, best illustrates this principle. Please join me in honouring and congratulating Manitoba's future nurses.