September 29, 2021

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NURSING STUDENT EXPLORING NEW CAREER AND CREE HERITAGE BY SUSANNE JOLLY PHOTOS BY LEE SIMMONS

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or NIC Practical Nursing student Joni Schootstra, COVID-19 was the push she needed to go back to school and start a new career. “I have always felt that I have a sort of natural knack for nursing,” said Schootstra. “My mother has had a variety of health care needs. I was the one to perform all the care for her. She didn’t feel comfortable having anyone else caring for her and so I learned how to do what was needed.” Schootstra is currently in her first year of the Practical Nursing program. She has found the program to be rewarding and challenging. “The program is challenging, but the instructors are supportive and understanding,” she explained. “The students are also really supportive of one another. Our cohort has a real team-like atmosphere.”

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The transition back to being a student wasn’t always smooth, but thanks to NIC’s instructors and additional educational supports, Schootstra learned to navigate the challenges of the program. “I knew to expect that standards would be high. It’s good that standards are high because I want to rise up to that as a nurse,” said Schootstra. Along with learning about nursing, she also is learning more about her Indigenous heritage. It was only recently that she began learning more about her mother’s heritage and her own identity. “My family is Cree, members of the Peepeekisis First Nation in Saskatchewan. Recently I met three cousins and a second auntie for the first time, and I’m learning a lot about the connections, and where they are now. My grandmother spent eight years in