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A female Indigenous student walks proudly after receiving her degree at convocation.

Chantal Coutu walks proudly after receiving her degree at convocation.

Nursing graduates honoured at pinning ceremony

October 21, 2022 — 

The College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences welcomed 116 new graduands into the nursing profession at a pinning ceremony on Oct. 19.

The event, held at the Pinnacle Club at IG Field, was emceed by Dr. Nicole Harder, associate dean, undergraduate programs, and included greetings from the Province of Manitoba’s Hon. Jon Reyes, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration and Hon. Audrey Gordon, Minister of Health.

Other speakers included Lanette Siragusa, vice-dean, education for Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, and Class of 2022 valedictorians Taylor Purvis and Charity Marchischuk.

“As nurses, people are going to look to you to lead them through challenging situations. You are going to shape people’s lives when they’re scared, sick and at their most vulnerable,” said Siragusa, a UM bachelor of nursing and master of nursing alumna.

In a keynote address, College of Nursing instructor Danielle Yaffe noted the graduands have gone through the program in a “particularly rocky time” and thanked the many students who worked as screeners, health care aides and immunizers during the pandemic.

“The events of the past couple of years have instilled a lot of doubt, hopelessness and fear in Manitobans, especially around health care and the delivery of quality care. But I am comforted in knowing that you will be out there making a difference and rebuilding,” Yaffe said.

Following the ceremony, the nursing Class of 2022 received their degrees at a convocation ceremony at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

The diverse graduating class included seven Indigenous students and 11 international students.

Chantal Coutu, 28, is an Anishinaabe and Metis graduate who grew up in the Namaygoosisagagun First Nation in Ontario. Living in a remote community with no roads or access to health care influenced her decision to pursue a career in nursing.

She said the highlights of her time in the nursing program include a six-week placement in Churchill, where she got to work at flu and COVID vaccine clinics while getting to know people in the remote community that reminded her of home.

She looks forward to bringing her new skills back to remote Indigenous communities and would like to focus on palliative care. 

“When I started in nursing, it was about being part of further representation in a system that still has far to go. Now that I have this education and have come this far, I’ve shifted to wanting to see that system improve in a way that not only incorporates, but honours the unique and diverse perspectives that we as Indigenous Peoples have,” Coutou said.

A male student in cap and gown.

Hussein Al-Bairmani with nursing pin displayed on his gown, prior to convocation.

Hussein Al-Bairmani, 23, was born in Iraq and moved to Winnipeg with his family when he was 13, after spending some time in Syria.

In Grade 11, Al-Bairmani became interested in the human body while studying biology. At that time, his older sister was studying nursing at UM and her experiences got him interested in the field.

His goal is to work in a hospital emergency department in Winnipeg. 

“I want to be that person who is calm in a stressful environment and can provide a bit of comfort while providing care to a patient,” he said.

“Being in that fast-paced environment, you always need to be on your toes, but going through nursing during the pandemic has made us better nurses. It took a lot of resilience and hard work and made us who we are today.”  

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