SCO Celebrates First Nation Nurses

May 8, 2024

“Our First Nation nurses are the backbone of our health system.” – Grand Chief Daniels


ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, May 8, 2024, during National Nurses Week (May 6 to 12), the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) recognizes Indigenous Nurses Day and the contributions of First Nation nurses to our health care system, Nations, and families throughout the year.

“The Southern Chiefs’ Organization thanks and recognizes Anishinaabe and Dakota nurses who selflessly provide care and support to our citizens. Their compassion, skill, and dedication helps to ensure culturally safe care throughout our Nations,” stated SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “We encourage more First Nation citizens to enter the health care field as we continue our Health Transformation journey. SCO is supporting the expansion of programming and education opportunities for more of our youth in health care. Working in health provides many rewarding career options and First Nations representation within our system is integral to delivering our health, our way.”

First Nation nurses account for only 1.3 per cent of the nursing workforce in Canada, according to the University of Saskatchewan’s (2018) fact sheet on “Aboriginal Nursing in Canada.” The impact these nurses have on their patients, Nations, and the health system is far reaching. They are advocates, educators, and care providers.

Call to Action #23 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls upon all levels of government to increase the number of First Nation health professionals and ensure the retention of First Nation health professionals working within First Nations. SCO is continuing to engage with the provincial and federal governments on transforming health, including education and training opportunities.

“We want our Nations to thrive—with healthy citizens, healthy economies, and opportunities for meaningful employment. Our Anishinaabe and Dakota nurses are leaders in creating healthier Nations through their profession,” said Chief Gordon Bluesky of Brokenhead Ojibway Nation and Chair of SCO’s Chief’s Health Action Table. “Nursing is a career that has many different paths. As SCO works to provide more health care closer to home, there will be more jobs available in our Nations, leading to stronger economies and more prosperous communities.”

National Nursing Week’s theme this year is Changing Lives. Shaping Tomorrow. SCO’s Health Transformation journey resonates with this theme as we continue our work to close the 11-year and growing gap in life expectancy between First Nations and non-First Nations citizens in Manitoba. We continue to connect with our Nations to ensure our pathway is informed by our citizens and draw upon the guidance and knowledge of our Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Chiefs at each step.

“Nurses are the foundation of our health care system. SCO Health Transformation is committed to supporting Anishinaabe and Dakota nurses from our Nations with opportunities to learn and work in-community,” concluded Karlene Debance, CEO of Health Transformation at SCO. “Thank you for your service and dedication. We are inspired by your stories and want to share them to encourage more of our SCO citizens to become nurses.”

SCO invites citizens to celebrate Anishinaabe and Dakota nurses by sharing their photo, name, the location/First Nation where they work, and a bit of information about why you would like to recognize them as part of our Health Care Heroes Campaign. Please email us at:


The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For media inquiries: