My university did not train me to be a combat soldier!

Contributor: Rebekah J. Salt

In the United States, as of May, there were 212 reported mass shootings, and the number is steadily rising (Diaz, 2022). In 2019, there were verified 417 mass shootings, 610 in 2020, and 692 in 2021 (Gun Violence Archive, 2022). In 2021 of the 692, a reported 34 of those were in educational institutions (Education Week, 2022).

The Uvalde massacre of 19 innocent little souls and their two dedicated teachers once again caused me to reflect on my purpose and future as an educator. I am saturated and weary of the constant excuses, propaganda, and proposals of strategies that are geared toward imprisoning us in the institutions that were designed to liberate us. I started my graduate journey 25 years ago idealistic and community health focused. My university did not train me to be a combat soldier!

My university taught me to unpack my philosophical backpack. They challenged me to consider my privilege, to explore injustice and inequity, and to advocate for vulnerable populations. I refuse to repack that backpack with the status quo. My university taught me to navigate with a social justice lens and to train nurses to provide compassionate, safe, and culturally sensitive care. My university did not train me to be an assault weapons specialist.

My university taught me boots-on-the-ground strategies and prevention. They trained me to operationalize a community-based approach that promotes health and well-being. I was taught to leave the world a better place than I found it. My university did not train me to be a combat strategist.

My university taught me how to navigate a public health crisis. They trained me to collaborate, educate, vaccinate, and protect students, patients, and the public against threats like  SARS-CoV-2. My university did not train me in combat maneuvers to protect students, patients, and the public from bullets.

I refuse to carry a backpack filled with fear and despair. Right now, I do not know how this latest mass shooting will affect policy or if anyone will listen, but what I do know is that my university did not train me to be a combat solider!


Diaz, J. (2022, May 25). 27 school shootings have taken place so far this year.

Education Week. (2022, May 25). School shootings this year. How many and where. Retrieved from

Gun Violence Archive. (2022). Gun violence archives. Past summary ledgers.

About Rebekah Salt

Dr. Salt brings 39 years of nursing experience to her current role as an educator and nurse researcher. She earned a master’s degree in Cross Cultural and Community Health Nursing and a PhD in nursing, focusing on social determinants of health. Dr. Salt teaches community health and works with vulnerable populations using a Community-Based Participatory Research and community engaged approach. Her work has been disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and at regional, national, and international conferences.  

Indigenous Nurses Day April 10-11, 2022


Catherine Tanski (Kitselas/Kitsumkalum Nation), RN,
Indigenous Leadership Circle Chair, BC Nurses’ Union.
Christina Chakanyuka (Métis), RN, MN, PhD Student,
University of Victoria.
Nikki Rose Hunter Porter (St’uxwtews),, RN, MN Student,
Thompson Rivers University.
Michelle Padley (Métis), RN, MN Student,
Thompson Rivers University.
Mona Lisa Bourque Bearskin (Beaver Lake Cree Nation), RN, PhD, BC
Chair Indigenous Health Research in Nursing,
Associate Professor, Thompson Rivers University.

Participate in Social Media Events for Sunday, April 10th

Attend Virtual Celebration Events on Monday, April 11th  

In 1971, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) designated May 12 as International Nurses Day on the birthday of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). Since that time, Nurses Week has been attached to the week of May 12 worldwide.

In light of provincial and national efforts to dismantle a widely recognized colonial healthcare system, many Indigenous nurses are calling for Indigenous Nurses Day to be held separate and apart from mainstream Nurses Week. From an Indigenous health viewpoint, Nightingale built the nursing model largely upon Eurocentric and paternalistic views, and her reign was during the height of British Imperial colonization upon Indigenous Peoples. Further, it was Nightingale’s research which served as the template for nursing models implemented in Canada’s Indian Hospitals and throughout segregated healthcare services, a legacy that still haunts Indigenous survivors. It is our collective position that continuing to celebrate Florence Nightingale as the “beacon of nursing” does a disservice to Indigenous nurses who do not align with her vision. The New Zealand Nurses Organization has already taken a clear position on this (see link below).

Beginning this year, we are celebrating Indigenous Nurses Day on April 10, the birthday of Edith Monture – the first Indigenous person to practice as a registered nurse within the Canadian healthcare system in 1914. We aim to elevate the voices of Indigenous nurses and bring attention to their important role in improving Indigenous health equity. For example, did you know that St’at’imx nurse Rose Casper was the first First Nations person to become a nurse in Western Canadian in 1955?

We ask that you join the Indigenous Leadership Circle (ILC) at the British Columbia Nurses’ Union and the Indigenous Health Nursing Research Team along with community partners in our endeavor to promote the recognition of our past, present, and future Indigenous nurses on April 10 as a new official date. On this day, Indigenous nurses and allies can proudly celebrate the history and legacy of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nurses! This celebration will include Indigenous guest speakers, sharing circles, and stories shared by the families of Edith Monture and Rose Casper.

This event is in the spirit of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, and the recent In Plain Sight Report which detailed entrenched racism in BC healthcare.

On behalf of Indigenous Leadership Circle with BCNU and the Indigenous Health Nursing Research Team, we thank you for your time in considering our vision and standing in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples on the frontlines of healthcare.

Warmly in wellness,

Catherine Tanski RN
ILC Provincial Chair
BC Nurses’ Union

Tribute to Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture, (1890 – 1996)


“Edith” was born on April 10 and belonged to the Six Nations reserve in Ohsweken near Brantford, Ontario. She was a member of the Mohawk tribe and the youngest of eight siblings. When in her early 20s, Edith applied to several nursing schools in Ontario. However, Canada’s Indian Act placed restrictions on the pursuit of higher education by all Status Indians and Edith was refused acceptance. Edith instead applied in the United States and was accepted into the Rochelle Nursing School in New York. Edith became a registered nurse in 1914, after graduating first in her class. Edith was the first registered nurse of Indigenous descent in Canadian history.


Download the Indigenous Nurses Day Poster here. (PDF)

Download the Event Schedule here (PDF)

For More Information contact or

Associated Links (6)

Additional Associated Links (6)

Edith Anderson Monture: The 1st First Nations Registered Nurse in Canada

St’at’imx Nurse Rose Casper Retires After 50 Years of Service: First Native Nurse in Western Canada (FNHA, 2013, p. 6)

21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality (REVIEW)

In Search of the Truth: Uncovering Nursing’s Involvement in Colonial Harms and Assimilative Policies Five Years Post Truth and Reconciliation Commission

NZ Nurses Organization: Why we aren’t celebrating Florence’s birthday

Nursing Clio: Beyond Florence (Series)

Nurses’ Letter of Declaration Against the Russian War in Ukraine

Contributors: Marsha Fowler,
Deborah Kenny & Elizabeth Peter


Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, it became apparent that immediate action is needed, as innocent lives continue to be lost. We nurses are in a perfect position to do so. Nurses have a large, trusted, and strong voice to advocate for the Ukrainian people and issue a call to action for legislators to put an end to these amoral acts. Sometimes during war, civilian collateral damage is unfortunate and inevitable, but Russia’s targeting of healthcare facilities, churches, schools, and other non-military objectives clearly represents war crimes. To assist all nurses in this advocacy, Dr. Marsha Fowler (US) crafted the attached letter with further input from Dr. Deborah Kenny (US).

Please download and distribute widely the attached letter via your professional social networks and organizational channels. Send to your state Congressional representatives or other leaders representing your individual country. Please tailor for your own country as necessary. Distribute it to nursing students to show them how to advocate through policy action. Together nurses can have a tangible and significant impact on the global health and wellbeing of all individuals. Nurses can be a compelling force for good in the world. Call upon your respective nations governments to take swift and decisive action to end these war crimes against humanity.

US nurses: We encourage each nurse to contact your own Congressional legislators (or legislative body members) and the White House. Congressional members can be found through  Additionally, nurses can flood the White House switchboard at (202) 456-1414. It is staffed by live volunteers who tally calls. Call the White House to express your concern and you may use the letter as a template.

Download Letter in PDF format
Download Letter in Word format


Attn: President Biden, Vice President Harris, Sec. Blinken, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Congress, Chairman Milley, Secretary–General Guterres, President von der Leyen, President Roberta Metsola, Director–General Ghebreyesus:

We write to express our profound concern regarding the unjustified, unprovoked, and illegal invasion of Ukraine. Those who sign below represent nurse-leaders, many specializing in bioethics and, as such, we hold dear human life, health, well-being, human solidarity, dignity, freedom, and social justice as core values of our profession. These core values of the nursing profession, affirmed by the fields of bioethics, ethics, and social ethics, are themselves desecrated in Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine. Our concerns and requests are several:

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations to hold President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia accountable for multiple and egregious violations of the Hague Regulations of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its associated Additional Protocols, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Under Mr. Putin’s command, the Russian military have committed numerous violations of these regulations, conventions, protocols, and statutes. In particular, we draw your attention to violations of Geneva Conventions that specifically require:

  • respect for “hospital and safety zones and localities so organized as to protect from the effects of war, wounded, sick and aged persons, children under fifteen, expectant mothers and mothers of children under seven.”
  • respect for neutralized zones
  • protection of civilian hospitals
  • that “Persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals, including the personnel engaged in the search for, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected.
  • that “Convoys of vehicles or hospital trains on land or specially provided vessels on sea, conveying wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected in the same manner as the hospitals provided for…”

Moreover, we express our outrage at the multiple violations of virtually every regulation under Article 51 of the Additional Protocol of the Geneva Conventions on the Protection of the Civilian Population. These have been made visible to the public through multinational war correspondents. The Hague and Geneva Law identify many of these violations as war crimes, e.g., the illegal use of thermobaric blast weapons against civilians and civilian sites.

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations to investigate, document, retain evidence, and try Mr. Putin for the commission of war crimes, genocide, crimes of aggression, and crimes against humanity, consistent with the evidence that is obtained, including but not limited to:

  • Intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities;
  • Intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects, that is, objects which are not military objectives;
  • Intentionally launching an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct overall military advantage anticipated;
  • Attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives;
  • Making improper use of a flag of truce, of the flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy
  • Intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not military objectives;
  • Pillaging a town or place, even when taken by assault;
  • Employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate in violation of the international law of armed conflict. (From: Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court)

While sanctions do not stop material aggression, harm, and damage to life, infrastructure, and environment, we call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations to place, consistently tighten, and maintain sanctions against Mr. Putin and his government so that he is economically and forcibly constrained in his action.

Mr. Putin has waged an unprovoked and unjustified war on a sovereign, democratic nation and has indicated his intent to carry through to the end his invasion until he achieves the full surrender, submission, and subjugation of the Ukrainian people. He has thus indicated that he will not negotiate withdrawal, rendering diplomatic solutions null. He has also indicated that sanctions will not affect his plans for Ukraine. Past statements have indicated his general contempt for Ukrainians and that Ukraine has no right to exist as a country. His invasion and wanton killing in Ukraine are genocidal. And, there is no indication that he will stop with Ukraine, following as it does his military actions in Syria, Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea—including the razing of Grozny.

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations, to intervene with increased humanitarian aid both, for the Ukrainian nation and its refugees, and to increase aid to refugee-receiving nations and conflict adjacent nations.

In addition to increased governmental aid, we ask that a central website be established for Americans (and in other nations) with links to authenticated governmental or non-governmental organizations, where donations can be specified for and directed toward aid to Ukrainians and/or Ukraine resistance and Ukrainian refugees.

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations, to markedly increase aid to the Ukrainian citizenry to increase their capacity for resistance to Russian invasion.

We support increasing the supply of rations/food, protective gear, field first aid and medical supplies, communications equipment, and those supplies necessary to support the resistance of the Ukrainian people. In addition, we also support the provision of arms, weapons, munitions, armored vehicles, armored fighting vehicles, planes, surveillance equipment, drones, classified surveillance information, cybersecurity expertise, and more.

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations, to provide for the medical and nursing needs of the Ukrainian populace, and nurses (and physicians) giving care under wartime conditions.

This war follows upon the heels of the Covid pandemic which had already strained medical and nursing resources in Ukraine. We ask our nation and the UN and its member nations to increase its provision of medical and nursing resources including but not limited to clothing, birthing kits, hygiene kits; cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing supplies and equipment; medical and surgical supplies and instruments; head lamps; tourniquets, bandages, and wound care kits; nutrition support for infants, children, and adults; blankets, towels, diapers, isolettes, bassinets, medications, antibiotics, and infusions; disposable scrubs; ambulances, and stretchers. In addition, nurses and physicians are living in hospitals in Ukraine and need personal support with food, warm clothing, ground cold-barrier foam for sleeping, blankets, clothing, and personal care items.

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations, to provide the necessities and comforts for the particularly vulnerable in Ukrainian society.

Many of the women, children and elderly persons have had to take cover in underground stations, basements, subway tunnels, and bunkers. We ask that our nation coordinate with NGOs and the International Red Cross to increase the donation of such things as clothing, shoes/boots and socks, blankets, ground-insulating foam rolls, food; child education and amusement kits and comfort toys; hygiene kits; feminine hygiene supplies, reading materials, communications tools; candles and flashlights and batteries, head lamps; supportive religious items; warm clothing, and other necessities.

We call upon the United States and the UN and its member nations to create collaborative and coordinated structures that can support the work of volunteer nurses and midwives who enter conflict zones to ameliorate the excess demands that fall upon the nursing and midwifery work of nationals in conflict zones.

The world is never free of war. War places even greater demands upon both military and civilian nurses and midwives. We call for the creation of an international structure and system of coordination and support for nurse and midwife volunteers who are willing to serve in conflict zones. The remarkable Médecins Sans Frontières, is a model that could be extended to an international cooperative and collaborative system of organizations and agencies, that are materially supplied by their nations of origin or international donations.

We are, collectively, horrified both at the invasion and the conduct of this war. As Mr. Putin appears to accept no diplomatic solution other than utter surrender and accession of the Ukrainian nation and its people into Russia, we ask our nation, and the UN and its member states, to do all in their power to force an end to this war, to maintain the sovereignty of the Ukrainian nation and its populace, to aid the Ukrainian resistance, to bring aid to the people of Ukraine and its refugees, to aid refugee–receiving nations, and to harden other nations against Russian expansionism, invasion and cyberattack.

In affirmation of the dignity of human life; the value of health, well-being, respect, and freedom; the hallowed nature of the natural environment, and our commitment to justice and peace as nurses and bioethicists, we humbly submit these requests and urge stringent intervention to halt this unjustified war, to punish war crimes, and to restore Ukraine and the Ukrainian people to sovereign status.


The Invisible Brown Immigrant

Contributor: Binita Thapa*

Binita Thapa

This poem has been inspired by my experiences of racism and discrimination in healthcare and nursing education. In the first part of this poem, I portray my experiences of discrimination in healthcare starting from the ambulance’s refusal to take me to the hospital to nurses under recognition of my pain, all due to ongoing appendicitis. I later illustrate an experience of racial discrimination in the form of exclusion as a Masters student in my school. These experiences were pivotal in not only making me realize the racialized world that I was a part of yet I did not acknowledge and recognize for a very long time but was significant in radically changing the trajectory of my thesis from end-of-life care to racism in nursing. These racialized experiences undoubtedly lowered my confidence and belonging, further oppressing me at times but was also a final thread to my unbearable urge to fight for social justice in nursing. I have now healed myself from these racial injuries with the validation, support, and mentorship from many allies and minority nurses. I am also proudly liberated from oppression. However, nursing education and healthcare continue to become a hostile place for racialized nurses and this poetry piece is a starting point of my reflective activism in fighting systemic racial injustices in nursing.

I open my eyes, I see my partner scream at me begging me to wake up
I see myself lying on the kitchen floor
Cannot recall where I was before
His eyes so desperate, his voice shaken, and his soul fragile
Never had I seen him so agile
Ambulance arrives with such an ease
So were the paramedic attendees
He tells me that I cannot be served sounding reserved
My unbearable pain did not matter, not enough to receive attention
I question myself, why am I an exemption?
His disengaged eyes and white skin
Nice racism as it is, nothing less than a brutal sin
Would my pain ever matter?
Will my pain ever be enough?
I could see my shadow and my feet yet I am unnoticeable
I am just a brown immigrant and my superpower is to be invisible

I stand there in front of my nurse in the hospital three feet away
Hoping that he would look at me without delay
He is sharing jokes with his colleagues
As if that is one of his side gigs
I question to myself: why aren’t his jokes funny to me?
Or is it my pain that is more bothersome to me
I bend down to put my hands on my knees
That is all I have to support my unease
I talk to myself inside my head ‘don’t fall’
‘Please can someone give me a medication to relieve this downfall’
I am clearly visible yet unseeable
Proof are these blank stares of disapproval
I could see my shadow and my feet yet I am unnoticeable
I am just a brown immigrant and my superpower is to be invisible

I sit there in a chair in front of my nursing professor
Her evil smirk, I still clearly remember
She proceeds to tell me that I do not belong here in nursing
Her words come out in such ease
As if dehumanizing racialized students was her expertise
All I hear in my soul is how dare that I am ambitious
Making my white professor have this urge to be this malicious
I walk outside her office, trying to make sense of the event that made me so nauseous
I could feel the warmth of my face increasing
As if my body and mind is exploding
The feeling of being unwanted and unwelcomed is suffocating
The proud nurse that I am but this feels humiliating
I could see my shadow and my feet yet I am unnoticeable
I am just a brown immigrant and my superpower is to be invisible

I question to myself ‘why me’?
Why don’t I have the courage to say ‘try me’?
A realization that racism and discrimination will be never-ending
A choice at hand either oppression or liberation
Oppression appears familiar, expected, and feasible
Liberation seems disobedient, challenging, and impossible
I desire love and humanity
I choose liberation and nonconformity
I refuse to be dehumanized by thousand cuts
I refuse to be silenced, asserts my blood and guts
The invisible brown immigrant is now awake
Unwilling to go back to sleep
She fights, persists, and continues to exist
Unaccepting to be dismissed
She now sees her shadow and her feet, and fights to be noticeable
She is now an empowered brown immigrant regardless of white disapproval
And, her superpower is her non-negotiable demand to be visible

About Binita Thapa

My name is Binita Thapa, an immigrant, a daughter of immigrant parents, an internationally educated nurse, and the first university graduate in my family. I completed my Practical Nursing degree from Centennial College followed by BScN from Ryerson University. I am currently a PhD in nursing student at the University of Ottawa. I am deeply passionate about social justice in nursing. As a woman of colour in nursing education and someone who endlessly faces systemic marginalization and racialization in my nursing school, my goal is to continue to have a voice for myself and for other racialized students. My doctoral thesis is focused on developing a post-colonial and anti-racist foundation for graduate nursing curriculum at the University of Ottawa.

“White Nurses: This Is On Us” – A 3-Saturday Zoom series on March 26, April 2 and April 9, 2022.  4-5:30 pm Eastern.

Organized as part of the project “Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing.” We invite all white nurses to join us for these courageous conversions, focusing on our own often unrecognized complicity in sustaining racism.  Nurses of color are welcome, but the discussion will focus on white nurses’ accountability.

Attendance at all three sessions is encouraged, but not required. Peggy Chinn and Christina Nyirati will lead discussions that will focus on three themes:

  • Coming to terms with the history of white supremacy in nursing
  • Recognizing and interrupting microaggressions
  • Changes that we can enact in our interactions with people of color.

Lucinda Canty and Valorie Taylor, co-organizers of “Overdue Reckoning on Racism in Nursing” will be present to provide feedback and direction during and following our meetings; they are passionate about supporting the change for white nurses. They bring deep compassion to this process, and join us in supporting accountability for real change in nursing.

Register here for the meetings – the same zoom connection will apply to all three weeks of the series.