Back in 1914, Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River territory, had to move to the U.S. for nursing school. Discrimination and restrictions on higher education for Indigenous people prevented her training in Canada.
She worked as a nurse in the U.S., including for the U.S. Army Nursing Corps during World War 1, before returning to Six Nations.
A ceremony to honour her and other Indigenous nurses both past and present will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 11 in L.R. Wilson Hall, room 1010. The celebration of Indigenous Nurses Day is sponsored by the McMaster University School of Nursing and the Aboriginal Students Health Science Office.
Rick Monture, who is Charlotte Monture's grandson and a McMaster professor of English and cultural studies, will speak about his grandmother and a book published based on her journals, Diary of a War Nurse.
Bernice Downey, who is currently advising the leadership of the Faculty of Health Sciences in the development of an Indigenous strategy, said the celebration is important.
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's report illuminates a clear path forward for all healthcare professionals and educators. Its call to action #24 calls upon medical and nursing schools to integrate required curriculum on Indigenous health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, Indigenous rights, teachings and practices. There is a need for skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights and anti-racism."
Carolyn Byrne, associate dean of health sciences (nursing), added: "As McMaster engages in a campus-wide initiative to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the School of Nursing embraces the spirit of reconciliation and aims to facilitate a barrier-free entry and learning experience for Indigenous students."