Indian hospitals and Aboriginal nurses: Canada and Alaska
Meijer Drees, Laurie
Between 1945 and the early 1970s, both Indian Health Services in Canada (IHS), and the Alaska Native Health Service (ANS) initiated programs and activities aimed at recruiting and training nurses/nurses aides from Canadian and Alaskan Native communities. In Alaska, the Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka acted as a training facility for Alaska Native nurses’ aides, while in Canada, the Charles Camsell Hospital served a similar function. These initiatives occurred prior to the devolution of health care to Aboriginal communities. The histories of these two hospitals provide a comparative opportunity to reveal themes related to the history of Aboriginal nurse training and Aboriginal health policies in the north. The paper outlines the structure and function of two main hospitals within the Indian Health and Alaska Native Health Services, discusses the historic training, and role of Aboriginal nurses and caregivers within those systems using both archival and oral history sources.