Unreserved

Indigenous nurse calls care a partnership with patients

Isabelle Wallace originally planned to go into psychology. But she changed her mind while attending classes at the Université de Moncton and working as a research assistant at a local hospital. Wallace said watching the nurses work inspired her to switch her career focus.
Isabelle Wallace is an Indigenous nurse from Madawaska Maliseet First Nation in New Brunswick. She received a scholarship from the Canadian Nurses Foundation. (Fullhouse Media)

Isabelle Wallace originally planned to go into psychology. 

But she changed her mind while attending classes at the Université de Moncton and working as a research assistant at a local hospital. 

Wallace said watching the nurses work inspired her to switch her career focus. 

"I just really fell in love with nursing, it's the love of my life right now. It's just the caring, the humanitarian aspect of the job. You get to treat people, you get to change their life," she said.

With the help of a scholarship from the Canadian Nurses Foundation, Wallace has just graduated with a bachelor's degree in nursing and plans to pursue a masters degree. 

Wallace lives in Edmundston, New Brunswick but calls the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation home. She said it's important for Indigenous people to see themselves reflected in those providing medical care.

"I don't judge ... so just erase that stigma from being Indigenous," she said. "Being from the same background I'm at the same level as my patients. So it's really like a partnership with them."

The Canadian Nurses Foundation is trying to raise $1 million for future scholarships. (courtesy CNF)
Wallace has also partnered with the CNF for their One Million in One Year campaign, which aims to raise $1 million for Indigenous nursing education and research. 

"My community, we lost most of the cultural aspect in the health field. I'm still learning about it and that's why I'm going to do my masters in Indigenous health. I want to learn more and integrate that aspect into the practice of nursing all across Canada."

Wallace has also joined the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada as a mentor, to help other students entering into the health care field. 

"We face a lot of challenges in the recruitment and the retention of Indigenous nurses. I myself had a mentor who is Indigenous, Dr. Michèle Parent-Bergeron, and she played the most important part of my bachelor's [degree]," Wallace said. 

"She gave me the courage to apply for my masters and to apply for all kinds of scholarships. And I want to do the same because you have to inspire people and you have to give them the empowerment." 

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