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Rickford Announces Supports for More Health Care Training at Seven Generations Education Institute in Northwestern Ontario

SGEI’s Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout Campuses are increasing the number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students in their Nursing and Personal Support Worker Programs through provincial funding.

The Ontario Government announced the allocation of funds to Indigenous Institutes to support learners in becoming registered nurses, registered practical nurses and personal support workers. The funding is designed to encourage Treaty Three members to pursue careers as nurses and PSW’s thus attending to the current province-wide critical shortage of health care workers.

“The cost of Post-Secondary Education is a huge barrier for our learners,” says Brent Tookenay, CEO of Seven Generations Education Institute. “This funding support will open doors to a rewarding career that starts in a student’s own community and provides opportunities they may otherwise not have pursued.”

The funds will provide financial support such as paid tuition, textbooks, and miscellaneous expenses. The province recognizes the need for nursing and PSW positions and we as culturally supportive care in the region.

“As a former nurse with experience working in communities across the north, I know that Indigenous people have faced barriers to accessing effective and culturally safe health, mental health and addictions care,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “The pandemic has shown us that improved access to these services is of utmost importance for communities. By increasing enrolment in nursing and PSW programs at Indigenous Institutes, we will help ensure culturally appropriate supports continue to be available in the future.”

Brigitte Loeppky, Associate Director in Health Disciplines at SGEI, sees the need firsthand for these health care positions in our region. “We hope that this student funding will not only welcome more learners into our health programs and the nursing workforce, but it will also directly respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 23 of increasing the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field.”

In addition, infused in their curriculum, SGEI’s health programs address the cultural engagement and understanding that is needed in Treaty 3 and Northwestern Ontario thus improving the quality of health care rendered.

Angela Mainville, Director of Post-Secondary Education and Training, explains that “SGEI prioritizes engagement in Anishinaabe culture and exposure to Anishinaabemowin to shape the student experience at our campuses. We know this enables our students to better serve our people and communities in the Treaty Three area. When the needs of Anishinaabe learners are centred, all learners benefit.”

This funding is applicable to SGEI’s Practical Nursing two-year Diploma and the Personal Support Worker one-year certificate programs (both in partnership with Canadore College). It also applies to the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree program (in partnership with Lakehead University) and is open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous applicants.

“By expanding enrolment in PSW and nursing programs at Indigenous Institutes, our government is ensuring learners continue to have access to culturally relevant, high-calibre education, training and supports,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Providing additional pathways to health care education close to home will also result in more nurses and PSWs who are training, working and staying in their communities.”

There has never been a better time to enroll in a health program at SGEI. The communities in Northwestern Ontario are looking forward to SGEI’s current and future healthcare graduates.