Institute opening ceremonies were held on August 2, where The Honorable Greg Ottenbreit, Minister Responsible for Rural and Remote Health, welcomed participants on behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan. “The issues facing our health care system in northern regions are similar across Canada and in other northern jurisdictions,” explained Ottenbreit. “We understand the challenges in addressing rural and remote health and are proud of the innovations used in Saskatchewan – such as remote presence technology – to support health service delivery.”
The jam packed Institute program was in full swing following the opening ceremonies. The first week included daily seminars, hospital tours and a visit to Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Week two consisted of a field study in Northern Saskatchewan, including visits to the communities of La Ronge, Stanley Mission, Pinehouse and Ile-a-la-Crosse.
Northern field study participant and graduate student from The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) Catrine Jensen explained, "I can't think of a better place to learn about First Nations and northern parts of Canada, than travelling to these areas and meeting the people living there. The field study gave us an excellent picture of the importance of cultural competency to be able to give good quality nursing. Hospitality and generosity is two of the many keywords that come to my mind when thinking about the trip.”
“A goal of this Institute was to show the strengths of our communities and the amazing programs that are addressing determinants of health. We often hear about health issues and the challenges of rural, remote and northern regions,” said Lorna Butler, Strategist for Distributive Learning U of S. “Students learned to appreciate and respect traditional knowledge, the value of land for community gardens, clean water for fishing and how nurses are using innovative ways to encourage and support healthy choices for all ages.”
Closing ceremonies were held on Friday, August 12 where Chancellor Blaine Favel sent greetings on behalf of the U of S. In a written statement Favel spoke of the U of S’s efforts in the area of Indigenous engagement and acknowledged how the College of Nursing is a leader on campus in this regard with over seventeen percent student body representation. He also mentioned how Indigenous engagement and achievement has been one of the university’s top priorities over the past decade.
Institute participants will leave Saskatchewan with the ability to tell stories of how innovative northern communities have become - but most important they can make the link to health and to replicate back home. Saskatchewan will be known by nurses in circumpolar regions of the world.
The Innovative Learning Institute for Circumpolar Health is a network of universities providing decentralized nursing education. The goal of the institute is to improve the teaching of northern nursing education, share best practices and form a community of students and educators to examine and improve the clinical practice of nursing in a northern context.