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UBC introduces first-ever Indigenous nursing lead


The University of British Columbia has recruited Tania Dick as its first-ever Indigenous nursing lead.

Dick, a member of the Dzawada’enuxw First Nation of Kingcome Inlet, graduated with two degrees from the school’s nursing program, and spent 18 years as a registered nurse.

But her journey didn’t come without adversity, including during her time as a UBC student.

"I was told as a student in my undergrad program that I didn't belong here, and that I needed to go back to my people and go back to the reserve," Dick told CTV News.

She described enduring similar racism during her time working in the health-care system, even being told she was “too Indigenous,” adding that she and family members have also faced discrimination while seeking care.

"My aunt was accessing emergency services and was seen as the ‘drunk Indian who needed to sleep it off,’ but really she hit her head in the bathroom and had a bad head injury,” Dick said. “That brain trauma actually killed her.”

Her aims as Indigenous nursing lead will include fostering a more welcoming environment for Indigenous students, while also helping prepare the next generation of nurses to uphold Indigenous Peoples’ human rights and address racism in health-care.

The creation of the new role follows the 2020 release of “In Plain Sight,” a report on systemic racism in B.C. health-care from Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. Of the 2,780 Indigenous people surveyed for the report, 84 per cent said they had personally experienced racism or discrimination while accessing health-care in the province.

One of the recommendations was that health authorities, colleges and universities with health programs recruit Indigenous peoples to senior positions to help promote change.

"We conceived of this role to help us be strategically sensitive to re-dress historical injustices that have been positioned against Indigenous populations,” said Dr. Leanne Currie from the UBC School of Nursing.

Dick said while there’s still a ways to go, she’s encouraged at some of the progress made in both society as a whole and within the program.

“People are starting to internally look at their own biases and blind spots and realizing that they have a role in being part of a solution.”

There are currently 11 Indigenous students enrolled in UBC’s nursing program, a number Dick hopes to see grow rather quickly. Top Stories

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