Highlights of 2011 by Nora Whyte

Among the highlights of 2011 was the opportunity to make a return visit to India as part of a small delegation from the Canada-India Education Society and the University of British Columbia (UBC) School of Nursing.  The Canada-India Education Society (CIES) is a civil society organization in BC that has been active in development work in rural Punjab for the past 20 years. CIES and UBC School of Nursing have a strong history of working together in support of nursing education, primary health care and community development in one district in Punjab state.

Harinder Dhahan, Sarup Mann, Barj Dhahan, Susan Dahinten and I met with representatives of organizations in New Delhi and Chandigarh and in several centres and villages in Punjab. Each meeting contributed to our understanding of current issues and gave us an opportunity to explore areas of mutual interest.  Our purpose was to explore the potential for long-term initiatives and partnerships in rural social and economic development.

It was fascinating to return to North India to witness recent changes in infrastructure, to learn about current social conditions and to meet dynamic people who are contributing to change. One of the most exciting places to visit was the Public Health Foundation of India that has become a national focal point for public health training, research and advocacy since its formation in 2006.

BC group with hosts at BFUHS, Faridkot

We were invited to visit Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS) in Faridkot where we were welcomed by university officials, met with faculty members and graduate students, visited three affiliated nursing colleges in Faridkot and Muktsar districts and toured the university teaching hospital. Baba Farid University is a growing public institution responsible for all nursing, medical and dental education in Punjab with 40,000 students in 140 colleges.

On a personal level, it was also highly rewarding to reconnect with people we had met on previous visits, particularly staff at Guru Nanak Mission Trust in Dhahan-Kaleran, Nawanshahr, where I had been a regular visitor from 2001 to 2005. Although our time on this trip was quite limited, we enjoyed an informal meeting with faculty at the Guru Nanak College of Nursing, a tour of Dhahan village and a visit to the local school.  Plans are now well underway for several collaborative initiatives that will be implemented in 2012.

Other highlights in 2011 are covered in the posts below about my new role as project manager for the Association of Registered Nurses of BC. In December we hosted a member engagement visit by representatives of the Canadian Nurses Association and we look forward to the CNA Annual Meeting and Biennial Convention that will be held in Vancouver in June 2012. For a link to the CNA Convention info and notices about other conferences, please see the Events Page.

Morning school run in Faridkot, Punjab