Nursing instructor and Indigenous consultant Kathleen Lounsbury helps transform Trinity Western's education

Preparing future nurses to better serve Canada’s Indigenous communities

“There’s so much that we can do, many different areas to implement traditional curriculum....By the time [students] graduate, they will have a firm grasp on what it means to be a nurse and to care for the Indigenous population.”
— Kathleen Lounsbury, MSN, Indigenous consultant and Nursing instructor

Integrating Indigenous knowledge into TWU's curriculum

Nursing instructor and Indigenous consultant Kathleen Lounsbury is helping to transform the curriculum and teaching practices at TWU to better integrate Indigenous ways of knowing.

As a nurse who completed her Master of Science in Nursing degree at TWU, Lounsbury expresses her excitement to continue her work in helping TWU Indigenize its curriculum, and preparing graduates for their future service within the Canadian healthcare system.

“There’s so much that we can do, many different areas to implement traditional curriculum,” said Lounsbury, who is from Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation.

Nursing students engage Indigenous history

Lounsbury works to expand nursing students’ knowledge of Indigenous history and culture, in order to better prepare them for their future service within the Canadian healthcare systems.

She teaches Indigenous historical perspectives, the history of colonization, Canada’s response to colonization, and the shift towards Indigenous self-governance.

As well, she teaches the importance of trauma-informed care, and cultural awareness.

Lounsbury teaches ways to implement Indigenous knowledge into healthcare, including the knowledge of medicinal plants and holistic healing practices. She introduces students to the medicine wheel, as well as to ways of translating that into nursing practice. 

Her work expands nursing students’ knowledge base, providing them a broad perspective of global health and of diverse healthcare models and practices.

“By the time they graduate, they will have a firm grasp on what it means to be a nurse and to care for the Indigenous population,” she said.

Lounsbury notes that her classes are sometimes the first time for many students to encounter Canada’s Indigenous history. For Lounsbury, this underscores the significance of her work.

See also — Walking towards Indigenous reconciliation: University Siya:m Patricia Victor reflects on 10 years at TWU:​
TWU News

Creative and hands-on approaches to nursing education

When it comes to teaching, Lounsbury uses many creative and hands-on approaches. She runs an Indigenous clinical with students, and invites guest speakers, including Indigenous elders who have survived residential schools. Students have opportunities to speak with Indigenous leaders and ask questions.

“I’m so excited to be part of Trinity Western. It’s a dream come true for me.”

The blanket exercise is another important teaching tool that Lounsbury uses to teach the history of Canada up until the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s process and conclusion. The blanket exercise provides a memorable object lesson that visually demonstrates how Indigenous people lost their land.

Another object lesson Lounsbury uses is the black rope exercise, with the rope signifying Canada’s oil and gas industry. “I have everybody hold onto [the rope] because we are all a part of that,” she explains. As the students handle the rope together, Lounsbury uses this activity as a discussion starter on how the oil and gas industry has affected Indigenous communities.

Employing the use of arts and media, Lounsbury leads groups of students to view the film, When We Were Children, and then guides them in follow-up discussions. She and her students reflect on the history and impact of residential schools.

These activities help future nurses develop a growing awareness of Indigenous communities and their strengths, as well as the particular needs and concerns of Indigenous peoples.

September 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

On Thursday, September 30, Lounsbury, together with the TWU community, joins Canadians in honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

On that day, TWU is hosting a campus-wide Day of Learning to foster greater knowledge and understanding of Indigenous history and cultures, and to reflect on the history and legacy of residential schools.

Grand Chief Clarence Pennier, manager of Aboriginal Title and Rights at the Stó:lō Tribal Council, will be a special speaker at TWU's Day of Learning. He has devoted most of his career to advocating on behalf of Aboriginal issues.

Lounsbury and her colleagues Dr. Kendra Rieger, Assistant Professor of Nursing, and Dr. Erica Grimm, Professor of Art, will be conducting a workshop on applying Indigenous ways of knowing and being to academic research. Other events throughout the day include a workshop on applying First Peoples Principle of Learning to teacher education, led by Education Professor Nina Pak Lui, and a workshop on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and BC law, led by History Professor Dr. Bruce Shelvey.

University-wide learning and engagement

Year-round, the Trinity Western community participates in learning and engaging Indigenous perspectives. The campus community has supported the Moose Hide Campaign to end violence against Indigenous women, and Orange Shirt Day in remembrance of residential school survivors. In June 2021, in response to news of children’s remains discovered at the former Kamloops residential school, TWU hosted a series of in-person prayer vigils to honour the victims.

TWU Nursing students complete practicums in Indigenous communities

Over the years, Trinity Western has had many partnerships with Indigenous communities, in which nursing students can pursue their practicums within Indigenous reserves. Lounsbury herself completed her practicum at Seabird Island First Nation. Upon graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2002, Lounsbury remained at Seabird Island to work as a community nurse. She later worked in community healthcare at Cheam First Nation, and in communities within the Burrard Inlet. She has also served within the City of Surrey, with a high-risk pregnancy centre, helping to provide care to urban Indigenous populations. She taught at the Native Education College in Vancouver, teaching their Health Care Assistant program and practicum.

Advancing in higher education

During her years working in community healthcare, Lounsbury received encouragement from professors Dr. Rick Sawatzky and Dr. Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham, who challenged her to continue advancing her education.

Soon, Lounsbury returned to TWU to pursue a master’s degree and to research nursing leadership within community healthcare. She explored how nursing leaders adapted to systems change, with a particular emphasis on analyzing the healthcare models of both First Nations Health Authority and Health Canada.

Lounsbury spoke with nurses and leaders who had experience with both First Nations Health Authority and Health Canada models, to see what kind of leadership modalities worked for them, and how they adapted to systems change. As these nurses were moving from a First Nations system focused on valuing cultural identity and Indigenous ways of knowing, Lounsbury sought to understand which leadership skills were challenged, and what these nurses saw as positive and negative aspects of each system. Some of Lounsbury's research participants expressed their desire to see system changes for the benefit of First Nations communities.

‘Proud moment’

In Spring 2021, Lounsbury graduated with her Master of Science in Nursing. Lounsbury, who is the mother of three sons, described graduation as a “proud moment for me and my family.”

She adds, “The professors at Trinity Western have been so instrumental in helping me become who I am today as a nurse, as a First Nations nursing professional, and helping me build my dreams.”

She expresses gratitude to the faculty and staff of TWU, and looks forward to her teaching work this Fall. “I’m so excited to be part of Trinity Western,” she said. “It’s a dream come true for me.”
Read this story in the Langley Advance Times.

See also — Trinity Western hosts campus-wide Day of Learning in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30:​
TWU News

 About Trinity Western University

Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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