Community Nurse in remote areas of Canada
I often had to unofficially endorse several roles at the same time, such as physician, therapist or specialist. I was the only health worker around with enough knowledge to deliver care.
Florence Woods is a Canadian community health nurse with 40 years of experience working in remote areas mostly populated by Inuit communities. In 2002, she was stationed at Pond Inlet, a small Inuit community in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut in Canada. There, she was instrumental in implementing many health-related programmes, such as the Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program, school breakfast programmes and numerous after school programmes, helping youth and adults alike make healthy lifestyle choices.
“When I first got to Pond in 2002 I thought, ‘wow, this is a beautiful place to live.’ And like everybody who comes north, I had a one- to three-year plan, which turned into a five-year plan. And then I just stopped counting,”
While working in the arctic regions, she noticed that the main issues there were type 2 diabetes, followed by hypertension, mental health issues, and suicide.
Florence’s integration in the local way of life led her to develop a great respect for the Inuit culture: its emphasis on family values, its respect for the land, and its unique knowledge of the environment.
As a strong advocate of family centred care with respect for traditional values, Florence understood that engaging individuals to be active participants in their healthcare and community, giving them the knowledge and empowerment, would enable them to make informed, healthy choices.