Skip to main content
Registered Nurse

empty
Cynthia smiling
I decided to be where my skills and services will be most beneficial. And believe me, when our people see a native nurse in scrubs in leader position, it does mean something.

History

I'm from the Wetsuweten Nation and the daughter of amazing parents -Tsebesya and Gilahgun and granddaughter of the late Satsun and Gisdeyweh. I grew up in Smithers BC Canada -on what is known as The Highway of Tears. I overcame many obstacles in life and thrive to be the best I can be today. We were taught at an early age to thrive off the territories and to learn the feast system, our self governance, since we weren't recognized by the federal government as aboriginal.

Education

When I was  21, I went to see a band post Secondary advisor  I went to enquire about a Licensed Practical Nursing Program. He said, “why don't you take the RN course.” I said ok! And like that, I made up my mind I can do it. I took my training at BCIT in Burnaby and graduated in 1994. I made it through the toughest of the toughest with 2 toddlers and a supportive partner. I enriched my career by taking the Northern Clinical Program through McMaster University and courses pertaining to Community Health through Uvic. I took my American Nursing later in my career I took my American Nursing Exam (NCLEX) in Baton Rouge Louisiana. I then took my Advanced Cardiac Life support through Tulan e Services. This course is reserved for emergency nurses and doctors only. I started a job at General Healthcare Systems – Baton Rouge General on a Telemetry (Cardiac) ward. In Vermont state I enrolled into Philosophy Science and Spirituality at Vermont College to talk a break from health sciences. I received an A. To integrate Wetsuweten world views in Philosophy to a New York City professor was something special for me!

Career

My 1st job was in New Aiyansh where the mountains surround you and the lava beds spread for miles and the water is turquoise. I was fortunate to witness the self governance and to see healthcare at its best―with me starting IV;s and doing blood pressures on one side of a patient and a traditional healer on the other side. I then worked as a Community Health Nurse amongst the Tsimshian. I loved visiting with the elders and just sitting with them in their homes or in their smokehouses and doing blood pressures and taking blood sugars was a reward in diverse nursing I was chosen to train in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and facilitated at the National NICCHRO Conference in Saskatoon. By 2001, I worked with Kateri Hospital as an evening charge nurse. I sat on an accreditation committee in which we nationally accredited the hospital. I also facilitated on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at an International Conference in Edmonton and a Regional Conference in Montreal. I became an Aboriginal Nurses Association Director for Quebec Anglophone for years before I resigned to move to the USA. 

With the uncertainty and changes in healthcare systems for our people and a separate health authority plan that will marginalize our people since healthcare professionals now have an idea that we have our own healthcare system, I decided to be where my skills and services will be most beneficial. And believe me, when our people see a native nurse in scrubs in leader position,it does mean something. I work casually on a medical and telemetry floor with Fraser Health and also reinstated my nursing license to work in the United States again.

Registered Nurse

You Might Like These... Indigenous Co-op, Indigenous Career Journey Stories, SFU Alumni

Mike
Mike, SFU Alumni

"I have no solid plans for the future and I love it...I know that every experience that I have had, every failed plan, was really an excellent mistake that gave me the skills I need to handle any situation that gets thrown my way in the future."

A person holding a Olympic torch
Peeriodical: Olympic Sized Persistence Pays Off

If there’s someone who knows about the terrifying journey that is the work search, it is Marissa Nahanee. She was a panellist at the Indigenous Peoples Career Stories event on March 3, 2011.  Marissa has worked on many world class events, including the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Torch relay and visits by Princes Charles and Edward. But Marissa’s job did not just happen to her – she had to work for it.

Brandon painting
Brandon Gabriel | Professional Contemporary Visual Artist

Brandon is a professional Contemporary Visual Artist based in Langley. He grew up in the Kwantlen Reserve and went on to study at Kwantlen University and attained his BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2006.

You Might Like These... Indigenous Career Journey Stories

three images of ernie smiling
Indian Ernie: Perspectives on Policing and Leadership FNSA Aboriginal Criminology Series

The FNSA Aboriginal Criminology Series Perspectives on Leadership and Policing is on January 28th at SFU Harbour Centre. Join them to hear from Sgt. Ernie Louttit. After 27 years with the Saskatoon Police Service, he is retiring and publishing his memoirs.

Kelvin Redvers
Kelvin Redvers; Award-Winning Aboriginal Filmmaker and Television Producer

Kelvin Redvers is a multiple award-winning Aboriginal filmmaker and television producer. Attending Simon Fraser University in Vancouver on full scholarship, Redvers continued film work on both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal topics, continually achieving success at film festivals in Canada and abroad. Read Kelvin's story to learn more about his climb to success.

Alissa smiling
Indigenous Student Success Story: Alissa Derrick

Alissa Derrick is from the Wet’suwet’en Nation located in Moircetown, British Columbia. She is currently in her last year here at SFU, working towards a double minor in Criminology and First Nation Studies.