I am a Registered Nurse currently practicing in Vancouver General Hospital’s Emergency Department and at Options for Sexual Health Clinics as a Certified Reproductive Health Clinician. More recently I have become a sexual health educator.
My journey to understanding my own sexuality began in the Sacred Learning Space of the mountains where I started to understand and learn the strengths and weaknesses of my own body. By immersing myself in several different mountain communities I was able to find more clarity in that I wanted to further explore this concept of sexuality not only for myself, but also of others through the sharing of stories. Stories of sexualized violence, gender identity, gender inequalities, body image, reproductive challenges to name a few were told and heard. It was through the telling and sharing of these stories that the idea of Sacred Learning Space emerged.
It is my goal to teach and facilitate discussions that empower participants to understand and respect their own bodies and views, and to influence respect for all bodies and points of view.
To these discussions I bring experience gleaned from stories shared in the clinical and community setting and workshops I have attended. All these experiences have motivated my ambitions to provide a Sacred Learning Space for people to talk about their sexuality and contextualize this very complex topic in a way that is safe, positive, all-inclusive and meaningful. Specifically, I have gained confidence and understanding in trauma-informed practice, decolonization, sexual and reproductive health, media messaging and body image, empowerment of youth, and communicating to diverse audiences.
Some of the most recent discourse on sexualized violence such as the #Me Too Movement, and the reconciliation of the Indigenous community, along with experiences in assessing and treating patients who have experienced sexualized trauma, as well as my own experiences with sexualized violence has led me to try to understand more about sexualized violence and its effects on our community. Therefore, I attended a few workshops and involved myself in community development projects. I attended Dr. Lori Haskell’s workshop on Trauma-Informed Practice and Women Against Violence Against Women’s Decolonizing Workshop, as well as The Little Warriors Prevent It! Workshop. I volunteered with the Howe Sound Women’s Centre as a Sexual Assault Services Coordinator with the intention to improve access to sexual assault services in the Sea to Sky Corridor. Although I have taken a pause in this movement at this time to concentrate on sexual health promotion and prevention of sexual assault, this is still an area of interest for me.
My clinical experience in assessing, treating and administering medications and contraceptives has contributed to my ability to communicate effectively to youth and adults about Sexually Transmitted Infections and Contraceptives. I also attended the Sexual Health 2015 2-day conference on Building Clinician Confidence & Competence which added to this experience.
Of much value and significance was volunteering as a public health nurse in a rural village in Kenya, Africa in December 2013. During this experience I gained insight into reproductive health challenges, and the power of coming of age ceremonies. Garbage cans are sparse in rural Kenya and I was menstruating at the time of my arrival at a snack stop and I did not have anywhere to place my menstrual pad and I had another hour and a half of journeying on a bus until our destination. For a 30+ adult woman this was not too much of a complication. However, for the girls of Africa, this keeps them from going to school as they have nowhere to place their menstrual pads. This can be a challenge for people in Canada where the value of a garbage can may be misjudged.
It is no secret that Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. This is because of the lack of availability or lack of knowledge in understanding the power of the condom. I spent 16 hours assessing orphan children, many of them living with HIV. The result is that they have health challenges that could have been preventable. In Canada, the public health challenges with sexually transmitted infections are similar, particularly in the more marginalized communities.
Although the village of Kipkaren, Kenya, has many challenges, the community does have a wonderful ceremony for boys for their coming-of-age celebration. This experience gave me insight into the power that adults have in the development of their children, their youth. Here in BC, G Day is offered to the girls as their right of passage into womanhood. I was fortunate enough to have volunteered for one of the first G Day celebrations in 2014.
Through volunteer work abroad and my clinical practice I have worked with many different types of people in a variety of settings. I have been a Registered Nurse since 2013 and most of those years I have practiced in the Emergency setting and as a reproductive health clinician. Previous to this I taught kids to ski and volunteered on Ski Patrol. I volunteered in Kathmandu, Nepal for 2 months teaching first aid to porters; and as part of my nursing training, I spent 4 months teaching health topics to refugees, many of them Afghani woman. And as a woman motivated by the mountains I enjoy spending my free time ski touring, climbing, and hiking. All these experiences have taught me how to engage with all types of people, with many different belief-systems and values in a way that is meaningful, respectful and kind. What I love about the Sea to Sky Corridor is the diversity of people who live in the area who are very passionate about creating a safe community.
And finally, my most impactful and motivating experience is my family. I am married to a wonderful man and together we are raising our beautiful child. It is my intention to help create a safe and respectful community for all families and individuals so that we all can feel free to be who we are.