Jasmine Gordon has fulfilled a promise she made to her grandfather in Inuvik.
“I always told him that I would come home and I would take care of him,” she says.
That’s precisely what she did after graduating in 2019 from Aurora College’s four-year nursing degree program, at the Yellowknife campus.
She’s now a registered nurse with public health in the Beaufort Delta town.
“It’s just been really rewarding to have people say, ‘Yes, it’s so good to see one of our people taking care of us. It’s so good to see an Inuvialuit nurse,” she says, adding that she had imagined herself in the health-care field since she was a girl.
Her days are now filled with assessing the growth and development of local infants and administering their immunizations. She also tracks sexually transmitted infections and holds clinics to promote wellness for women and men and for students at school. She also gave flu shots during the fall and, more recently, vaccinated Inuvik residents against Covid-19.
With great support from her parents, Gordon graduated from high school in Whitehorse and did well academically.
“My mom always loved school and college. She really encouraged me. She supported me throughout all of my schooling,” Gordon recalled.
Even so, she had to do some upgrading prior to entering the nursing program at Aurora College.
Moving on to post-secondary studies was more arduous, she acknowledged.
“A lot of times I would feel like, can I do this? Sometimes it feels very overwhelming and challenging: the amount of readings each week, the amount of assignments, the clinical hours,” she says, adding that she would concentrate on getting through one week at a time.
The college environment also brought a change in atmosphere as students tend to be much more focused, she says.
“People are there with a goal in mind,” says Gordon. “We all just wanted to see each other succeed. Whenever one of us was falling a little bit behind, we’d always check on them and offer support.”
There were also many calls with her grandfather in Inuvik.
“Him and I are very close,” she says. “He would call me about twice a week just to encourage me and tell me that he misses me.”
Another key source of assistance came in the form of financial aid through the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, which paid for her schooling.
“Oh my gosh, (it made) such a difference,” she says. “If I were to have any financial struggles throughout school, I don’t know how I would have done… it was such a benefit. I’m so grateful to have received all of the funding that I did to get where I am today.”
She took six years to complete the nursing program because she gave birth to two daughters during that period. Her parents, once again, played a key role by babysitting the infants while she was in class. She devoted much of her evenings to her girls and her husband helped care for their daughters as she buried her head in her books again.
“I had a lot of late, late nights,” she says, adding that her children were also a motivating factor to complete her academic pursuits “so that they can see that education is so important.”
She spent several months as an intern with the medicine unit in Yellowknife before returning to Inuvik. That gave her experience working with patients who suffer from acute and chronic illnesses. Overall, she says the nursing program prepared her well for her job.
“I’ve never really felt like I didn’t know what I was doing,” she says, laughing.
Gordon says she encourages local youth who are contemplating post-secondary studies, especially nursing, to approach her with questions.
“I would be so happy to provide them the knowledge that I know. Hopefully (I’ll) inspire others to do the same… I just want to help people as much as I can,” she says.