Nova Scotia

Mi'kmaw nurse wants more Indigenous students entering profession

Dawn Googoo is leading the L’nu nursing initiative as part of the Nova Scotia Research Chair in Indigenous Health Nursing at Dalhousie. 

Dawn Googoo says she's helped 15 students with scholarships, academics and emotional support

A few months ago, Dawn Googoo was hired as the lead for the L'nu Nurse Initiative as part of the Nova Scotia Research Chair in Indigenous Health Nursing at Dalhousie. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

A Cape Breton woman wants to make the nursing profession more attractive to other Indigenous students. 

Dawn Googoo, from We'koqma'q, is a registered nurse and a master of nursing student at Dalhousie University in Halifax. 

A few months ago, she was hired as the lead for the L'nu Nurse Initiative as part of the Nova Scotia Research Chair in Indigenous Health Nursing at Dalhousie. 

"My position is officially to gather evidence to find the best supports to help Indigenous students be successful in the nursing profession or in their schooling," said Googoo.

Drawing on experience

As part of her position, she wants to meet with instructors and staff about trauma-informed approaches to their programming in hopes of making the campus a more inclusive place for all students. 

Googoo said she has already been able to help 15 students with scholarships, academics and emotional support. (Dawn Googoo)

When she started in nursing, Googoo said her professors and instructors were both open and supportive, but key information was missing from teachings that involved Indigenous health. 

"Each area of nursing discusses how Indigenous people are the lowest of the health disparities, social determinants of health," she said. 

"And it's brought up in almost every class, and there's no history. Do you know what I mean? There's no explaining as to why things are."

As an undergrad student, Googoo would often raise her hand and offer an explanation to her classroom as to why those statistics are the way they are. 

Googoo said she was among five Indigenous students in her early nursing program and they helped and supported each other.

She's now drawing on that experience as she looks to help today's Indigenous students. 

"I just thought about all of our journey," Googoo said. "We all did not finish in the four-year plan that's allotted. And each of us had different reasons for leaving … and now all of us have graduated and have even gone beyond the undergrad programs."

Googoo said she already has been able to help 15 students with scholarships, academics and emotional support. 

One of her goals is to see an Indigenous nurse on campus at all schools that teach students about the profession.

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