Indigenous Initiatives

University of Saskatchewan College of Nursing and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action

On December 15, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its final report, documenting the events and abuses in Canada's Indian Residential schools and the consequences of them, as well as 94 Call to Actions to mitigate and redress those impacts. This was preceded by a forum, hosted by the University of Saskatchewan on November 18-19, 2015, on "Building Reconciliation", examining how Canadian universities should respond.

As articulated by President Peter Stoicheff, post-secondary institutions have a significant role to play in building reconciliation. The TRC specifically identifies the role of nursing schools in one of its Call to Actions, while several others implicitly require action on their part.

The College of Nursing, separately and as a part of the University of Saskatchewan community, has made Indigenous engagement and success one of its core objectives. As part of its goals for the Strategic Plan 2025, the College of Nursing continues to respond to the TRC Call to Actions. This page will highlight our on-going journey in reconciliation and will be updated over time.

We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

The College of Nursing has surpassed the goal of achieving proportional representation of Indigenous students in its undergraduate student body. As of Fall Census 2020, 20.3% (194) of undergraduate students self-declared as Indigenous.

We are proud to have eliminated the gap in participation in nursing education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. The most important strategies adopted to achieve this include the establishment of 16.6% equity seats for Indigenous students, the support and advising services offered through UCAN (University of Saskatchewan Community of Aboriginal Nursing), and our 'learn where you live' model making nursing education more accessible in Prince Albert and northern Saskatchewan, where we engage with a number of Indigenous communities.

With a foundation of success in Indigenous undergraduate achievement, the college is focused on Indigenous student representation and access to graduate level programs, which will create capacity for Indigenous academic scholars in research, teaching and administration. 

We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.

The College of Nursing Bachelor of Science in Nursing curriculum introduces the concept of the medicine wheel several times, as well as traditional ways of knowing. Many instructors engage with Indigenous Elders and other knowledge keepers to bring Indigenous teachings and experience to all students in the program. Many community clinical placements occur in First Nations and Métis communities or neighbourhoods, which further exposes students to indigenous healing practices.

 The College's faculty are continuously evaluating ways to further enhance the Indigenous content of their curriculum in a respectful and appropriate manner.

We call upon all levels of government to:

  1. Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field.
  2. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities.
  3. Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.

The College of Nursing contributes to goal 23(i) through recruitment and retention of Indigenous students. The College was the first in the country to establish an Indigenous student support group – the Native Access Program to Nursing – in 1984. A number of initiatives have contributed to shared success with Indigenous communities, including the establishment of a full Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in Prince Albert (PA) in 2004 (and a new PA campus building in 2020); an innovative learn where you live BSN program in Ile-a-la-Crosse and La Ronge in 2012; partnerships and advocacy for improved Indigenous high school achievement across the province; as well as, efforts by the University of Saskatchewan to recruit and support Indigenous  students and encourage their self-identification. There are currently 194 Indigenous undergrad students enrolled in the College of Nursing (Fall 2020), which continues to be the highest known Indigenous nursing program enrolment in Canada

We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

In 2012, the College of Nursing made INDG 107.3: Introduction to Canadian Native Studies, or its equivalent, a prerequisite in the pre-professional year for admission into the College of Nursing.

In addition, the nursing curriculum recognizes "post-colonial understanding", "cultural competency" and "inclusivity" as core competencies, and explicitly identifies learning outcomes that graduating students must obtain:

  • Demonstrate compassionate, culturally safe, relationship-centred care with First Nation, Inuit and Métis clients, their families or communities.
  • Be able to identify the determinants of health of Indigenous populations and use this knowledge to promote the health of First Nation, Inuit and Métis clients, their families and communities.
  • Demonstrate effective and safe communication with First Nation, Inuit and Métis clients, their families and peers.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to engage in dialogue and relationship building with First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples, cultures and health practices.

The College of Nursing has made strong and steady progress over the past three decades in ensuring Indigenous students feel welcomed and are positioned for success in their nursing education, and that all of our graduates understand the importance of and can demonstrate culturally competent care to a diverse client base, including Indigenous clients and their families. We will continue to work to improve our efforts and outcomes in this regard.