Nov. 17, 2023
Class of 2023: Cree nurse finds voice as advocate for Indigenous leadership in health care
Growing up in Saskatchewan near North Battleford, Cindy Myo always knew she wanted to be a nurse.
“My Cree name is First Thundering Woman. I am fluent in my Cree language as I was raised by my kokom [grandmother], who passed away last year. She was a very influential person in my life,” says Myo, GCert'22. “She always used to tell me how she wanted to be a nurse when she was a little girl and that's what I wanted growing up, too.”
Myo volunteered at the local hospital in North Battleford as a candy striper and went on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2006 at the University of Alberta. While she originally thought she would pursue paediatrics, when she did her clinical placement, she found it too emotionally stressful and decided to work in medicine instead for a few years to get experience.
“But 17 years later, I am still here,” she says. Myo currently works at Edmonton’s Royal Alex Hospital in acute care in medicine. “I [have also been] casual in postpartum for the past three years so I get to assess newborns which is fun and less stressful than medicine; I love it as no day is the same. It’s a good balance for my own mental health.”
Myo says pursuing her Master of Nursing [MN] degree was always in the cards. “It was always stressed in my upbringing that you will need a post-secondary education. ‘To live in this new way of life’ — my kokom would instill this into me in Cree.”
When Myo first heard about the graduate certificates laddered pathway to an MN degree offered at the University of Calgary, she immediately applied and was accepted. In 2022, she completed her Addiction and Mental Health Certificate and did her second graduate certificate in Innovations in Teaching and Learning. Myo is on track to finish her MN, all while working full-time, in August 2024.
“These two certificates have given me the voice and opportunity to be a proud Indigenous registered nurse, aspiring nurse educator and advocate for Indigenous leadership in health care,” she says.
“My newfound passion is advocating for my Indigenous patients in hospital and bringing cultural awareness, to staff, on Indigenous peoples of Canada."
“I gained so much knowledge and acquired so many new skills that I incorporate into my current practice,” Myo adds. Last year, her final presentation for her Addictions and Mental Health certificate was Braiding Trauma Informed Care and the Medicine Wheel - For Holistic Care within our Indigenous Population.
“This year, for my final presentation, I created an in-service for the staff on my unit on cultural awareness for our Indigenous Peoples. I wanted to bring awareness to my colleagues.”
In her presentation, she shared Indigenous history including residential schools, culturally competent care and addressed how the use of restraints could retraumatize Indigenous patients. Myo also covered the new policy on Patient Access to Indigenous Spiritual Ceremony and Patient Access to Indigenous Spiritual Ceremony Process Map. She summarized the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and pointed out the seven that pertained to health.
“My goal is to promote accessibility to cultural and healing practices for holistic care within our Indigenous population, in an acute care setting. I would also love to continue my in-services to other units throughout the hospital.”
Myo says she hopes to eventually become a clinical nurse-educator. Through education, she wants to see health-care providers become more comfortable with culturally competent and holistic care. She would also like Indigenous patients to easily access ceremony in the hospital setting.
Through graduate education, Myo connected with educating others around her own culture and identity. The quote by Senator Murray Sinclair on reconciliation resonates with her: ‘Turn 150 years of negativity into generations of positivity!'
“I believe through education and Indigenous-led leadership, this is possible.”
Tracey Clancy, associate professor (teaching) and interim associate dean (undergraduate practice education) at UCalgary Nursing, taught Myo in her Innovation in Teaching and Learning Graduate Certificate.
“Maturity, self-motivation, commitment, and perseverance are qualities that characterize Cindy,” Clancy comments. “Although she is quiet, her work ethic reveals her strong sense of dedication, resiliency, and leadership.”
In her spare time, Myo is also the co-chair and Indigenous representative on EDIWA (Ethnically Diverse and Indigenous Workers of Alberta Caucus) with the United Nurses Association. “With my new and upcoming leadership role, I want to see more education for our health-care professionals on the frontlines to advance professional practice.”
To Indigenous nursing students, Myo says: “Don't be afraid to be that advocate that Indigenous patients need; they are already feeling vulnerable in the acute care setting. Be that empathetic nurse we all aspire to be. Patients always remember that one nurse who made a difference in their lives.”
Read more inspiring stories about the accomplishments and journeys of the Class of 2023.
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