Indigenous

From stick to stethoscope: how a hockey dream turned into a nursing degree for First Nations woman

Naotkamegwanning First Nation hockey player Taylor Tom shoots for a university hockey dream and scores an education in nursing.

Taylor Tom says her hockey skills will help her work on health care teams

Taylor Tom plays defence for Vermont's Norwich University in the NCAA Division III women's ice hockey. (Norwich University Photography)

Taylor Tom's mother did what almost every Canadian parent does for their child — she put her in a learn-to-skate program, and Tom fell in love with the game of hockey and the adrenaline rush of hitting the ice.

"I smile right away when I think about that feeling, how it makes me feel as an individual and as a team member," said Tom, 22, a member of Naotkamegwanning First Nation in northwestern Ontario.

"I think one of the biggest things about playing hockey is being able to be a part of a team."

Her mother Lori Vogrig worked three jobs in Kenora, Ont., to pay for tuition at a private high school in Winnipeg because its illustrious hockey program was part of Tom's dream.

Taylor Tom with her mother Lori Vogrig when Taylor played for Balmoral Hall in the JWHL. (Taylor Tom)

"It's been a long, rocky road," said Vogrig. 

"We've had lots of hardships along the way. I'm a single parent; me and Taylor are a team. Her goal was to play university hockey, get her nursing degree."

Vogrig is a housekeeper at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora, Ont. That gave Taylor her first glimpse into the field of health care but it was her own experience that made nursing an easy career choice.

"I had pretty bad asthma growing up," she said.

"I would go to the hospital pretty frequently. I got to experience the field of nursing from a young age. I really loved being there. I liked how they always made me feel better and wanted to take care of me well."

Taylor Tom is working toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. (Norwich University Photography)

Tom said her hockey experience will help her pursue her nursing career.

"I can continue all of the lessons that I've learned throughout the years playing hockey and instill them within my career of nursing . . . being a team member with other health care members on each patient's team," she said.

"It's going to really show all the things that hockey has taught me and made me into the person who I am today."

Tom is scheduled to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., in 2022. Her dream is to open her own clinic in northwestern Ontario to serve Indigenous people in the area.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Francine Compton is the Assignment Producer for CBC Indigenous. She is Anishinaabe from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba. Before joining CBC she was the executive producer of national news at APTN. You can find her on Twitter @FrancineCompton

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