Dr. Evelyn Voyageur, a nationally recognized leader in Indigenous health, NIC Elder in Residence and faculty member, will receive the prestigious 2018 Indspire Award for Health.
Voyageur has dedicated her life to transforming Indigenous healthcare across Canada.
“She was raising awareness about the systemic and institutionalized racism faced by Indigenous people long before these issues were in the public eye,” said NIC nursing instructor Joanna Fraser. “She had the courage to speak out when there were not many people in the nursing profession taking action to reduce the stigma and oppression faced by Indigenous people.”
Voyageur lived the Truth and Reconciliation principles long before they were mandated, encouraging NIC nursing students to respect Indigenous voices and ways of knowing.
“Evelyn’s guidance, mentorship and wisdom as an Elder have deeply impacted not only my nursing practice but how I carry myself in this world,” said Dawn Tisdale, Evelyn’s former student at NIC, and leader of the Association of Registered Nurses of BC’s New Graduate program. “Evelyn’s leadership and heart have inspired a generation of leaders who have changed the course of healthcare in Canada. She has shifted our collective consciousness and paved the way for Indigenous nurses everywhere.”
Voyageur also influenced the development of NIC field schools to Kingcome and Rivers Inlets, giving student nurses and faculty from across Western Canada, physicians and professionals the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal health and healing from Elders in remote coastal communities.
“Dr. Voyageur is a strong supporter of a community-led health system,” said Fraser. “With her guidance this field school has been developed in relationship with community – with respect for Wuikinuxv protocols and knowledge.”
Her advocacy is recognized nationwide. In addition to the Indspire Award, Voyageur has earned a College of Registered Nurses of BC Lifetime Achievement Award, was named as one of the top 150 nurses across Canada and received an Award of Excellence in Nursing from Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Branch.
She is active in the Vancouver Island Health Authority Aboriginal Working Group, the New Hospital Projects Aboriginal Advisory Committee, the Ministry of Children and Families Aboriginal Advisory Group, the Canadians Seeking Solutions and Innovations to Overcome Chronic Kidney Disease (Can-SOLVE CKD) network and more.
“I have witnessed her ability to empower and mentor First Nations people to use their traditional knowledge and values in working toward the health of their own communities,” said Fraser. “For me, there has been no greater nurse, mentor and teacher in my life. She shares herself generously as a teacher and knowledge keeper.”