born and raised on the Little Pine Reserve by the
Cuthands, relatives of her mother, who'd passed away. As
a little girl she spent several years at the P.A.
sanitorium with tuberculosis. She later attended the
School of Nursing in the Holy Family Hospital in Prince
Albert where she earned her Registered Nursing Diploma.
Jean was involved in Indian Health since 1955. Her
nursing career began in La Ronge with Indian and Northern
Health Services. There was no hospital and the nearest
doctor was in Prince Albert. For two years she and two
other nurses were involved in all aspects of health care
from innoculating students, patching up injuries and
delivering babies. She then took on a nursing position in
a Bermuda hospital for a couple of years.
She became increasingly involved with Indian organizations to improve health care. Jean believed health problems were caused largely by poverty and poor living conditions and change was necessary in government policy and political action. She strongly believed that " We have to involve women and our young people in our political process." She worked with government departments including Indian Affairs, National Health and Welfare and Secretary of State.
In 1979, Health & Welfare of Canada Minister Monique Begin hired Jean as a special advisor on Indian health. Her duties included briefing the Minister and meeting with Indian and Inuit groups and relations improved considerably. Jean was also instrumental in the Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program, as well as the Health Career Programs for Native Students.
In 1974, Jean helped found the Indian and Inuit Nurses of Canada ( now known as Aboriginal Nursing Association of Canada ) and became President from 1983 until 1990. She was also a founding member of Native Women's Association of Canada.
Jean co-wrote a book in 1982 on her father: John Tootoosis: A Biography of a Cree Leader. She was also co-editor of the Indian News and wrote for the Tawow paper.
In 1986 she received an honorary Doctorate of Law from Queens University for her contributions to health. "When I got the award, the basis of my presentation was on the strength and support that can come from family. Sometimes in our busy lives, we overlook the obvious".
She helped develop the National Native Access to Nursing Program at the University of Saskatchewan and the Indian Health Studies Department at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College at the University of Regina. Jean saw a great need for more Aboriginal health professionals to continue to enhance and make positive changes in health care,"get their sciences and maths...they're just as capable as anyone else".
In 1992 she received an Order of Canada Award for her contributions in the health field and was also one of the first recipients to receive a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in the Health Services field in 1994.
On August 25, 1997, Jean Goodwill passed away.
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