The Association hosted Chief Karen Batson, a registered psychiatric nurse (RPN) who holds a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health, a Bachelor of General Studies, a Masters of Education, several community roles and serves as the Chief of Pine Creek First Nation.
Chief Batson shared her journey with us, from leaving her home community and family at 18, through attending university, working in various clinical areas and while she was getting married and starting a family. This period was a time of dramatic change in how mental health care and mental health nursing were conceptualized and practiced. Chief Batson and her husband, also an RPN, started a private practice providing mental health services to First Nations communities. They worked alongside their regulatory college to create the services needed to support private practice which hadn’t existed in Manitoba before they started Healing Spirit Counselling.
Chief Batson shared some details about her academic and teaching career and the two requests to run for chief of her community. The first she declined because of her own circumstances at the time but she was approached again in 2016. After visiting the community, seeing the living conditions, speaking with people and seeing the need, she connected with her family who agreed to support her. She ran and won.
After speaking about her own background, Chief Batson outlined some of the historical issues affecting First Nations people today. She spoke about initial relocation to reserves; the Indian Act; residential schools and their impacts; and other harmful policies. Social determinants of health were detailed in general and specifically those that impact the health of Indigenous people and children and the dramatic disparities in health outcomes.
Chief Batson ended her talk with discussion of the current and future role of RPNs and then took us on a tour in pictures of her community, Pine Creek First Nation.
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