York presents Social Justice Nursing Conference, inaugural June Awrey Lecture

York University’s School of Nursing, in the Faculty of Health, will host a conference on June 13 reflecting on nursing’s legacy and ethical imperative to steadfastly advocate for social justice.

Lisa Bourque-Bearskin
Lisa Bourque-Bearskin

The Social Justice Nursing Conference coincides with the school’s 25th anniversary and inaugural June Awrey Lecture featuring Lisa Bourque-Bearskin (RN, PhD) – a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, past president of the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA), and associate professor and researcher with Thompson Rivers University’s School of Nursing.

The Canadian Nurses Association recently reaffirmed the centrality of social justice as a focus for nursing, viewing it as “means to an end and an end in itself” and acknowledging its consistency with the values set out in its code of ethics. Critical community health nurse Benita Cohen invites nurses in all settings to take four key advocacy steps in order to enact a social justice ethic, including: equipping themselves with the facts; challenging societal beliefs about individual responsibility for health; promoting equity considerations in health policy and program planning within the organization; and working to bring about social change.

To that end, abstract submissions for the conference will explore themes of:

  • critical analyses of health inequities and the role of nurses/nursing;
  • strategies to challenge societal beliefs, policies or health-care practices that contribute to the marginalization or victim-blaming of populations experiencing poor health;
  • innovations in practice, policy, education or research aimed at promoting social justice and equity; and
  • calls for action or lessons learned from exemplars of nursing-involved social activism.

The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and will feature several breakout sessions as well as the plenary sessions “We See and are Not Silent! Nurses’ Role in Social Justice: Lessons Learned from Nurses for Social Responsibility,” presented by Kathy Hardill, a nurse practitioner lead/clinical director, and Cathy Crowe, a Distinguished Visiting Practitioner at Ryerson University and a York University honorary degree recipient. Crowe will also present her new book, A Knapsack Full of Dreams: Memoirs of a Street Nurse during the conference.

The closing plenary features the inaugural June Awrey Lecture, which aspires to engage students, faculty, alumni and others in groundbreaking ideas that will stimulate excellence in practice, leadership, education, policy and research.

Given the enormous significance of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations for health-care professional education, the lecture will welcome Bourque-Bearskin as the inaugural speaker to continue the critical discourse and curricular adjustments rooted in decolonizing nursing and health care that have commenced in the school.

She will deliver a talk titled “Radical Reconciliation: From Risks To Rights Without Having to Say We’re Sorry.”

The conference and lecture take place at the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, Keele Campus, York University.

For more information, visit the conference website.