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The BC Nurses Union (BCNU) has announced they will join a number of other Canadian organizations in declaring and celebrating BC Indigenous Nurses Day on April 10.
BC Indigenous Nurses Day will honour Canada’s first-ever Indigenous nurse, Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture.
In 2020, during the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, the New Zealand Nurses' Organization (NZNO) stated, "the historical figures whom we choose to venerate say a lot about who we are" becoming the first national nursing organization to publicly choose not to celebrate Florence Nightingale.
Nightingale, born on May 12, is widely recognized as founding the standards for modern nursing, but at the height of the British Empire, played an active role in colonial legacies.
In supporting BC Indigenous Nurses Day on April 10, the union states that they are consciously disconnecting from International Nurses Day on May 12.
BCNU's Indigenous Leadership Circle will honour Monture, a remarkable matriarch of Indigenous nursing, by hosting activities to celebrate Indigenous Nurses Day 2022.
Born on April 10, 1890, in Six Nations of the Grand River, Monture attended nursing school in the United States because of colonial policies that denied her access to nursing schools in Canada.
At the time, had Monture been able to pursue higher education in Canada, the federal government would have revoked her Indian status, leaving her without her identity as an Indigenous woman.
She graduated top of her class in 1914 at Rochelle Nursing School in New York. During WW1, Moture provided care to wounded soldiers stationed in France.
Following the war, Monture returned to her Six Nations community and continued to work as a nurse, midwife and became a mother to four children.
“BCNU stands with Indigenous nurses in addressing truths, reconciliation, calls to action, anti-racism work, cultural humility and safety in our union and workplaces,” states BCNU.