From the time that Jean Cuthand Goodwill entered the health field as a general duty nurse at the Fort Qu’Appelle Indian Hospital in Saskatchewan in the mid 1950s, to her present role as the country’s leading Aboriginal health and nursing advocate, she has had a profound impact on the delivery of health services to Aboriginal people, and the role of Aboriginal and Inuit nurses in Canada.
Ms. Goodwill, who is Cree, was born in Saskatchewan at the Little Pine Reserve. She earned her Registered Nurse Diploma from Holy Family Hospital in Prince Albert. In addition to a long career as a nurse, she served as the Executive Director of the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre in Winnipeg, as coordinator of Native Women and Youth Programs for the Federal Secretary of State, Native Citizen’s Directorate, as a Special Advisor on Indian Health to the Minister of Health and Welfare Canada, and as the department head of the Indian Health Careers Program at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Queen’s University in Ontario.
In 1974, Ms. Goodwill founded the Indian and Inuit Nurses, a national organization now known as the Aboriginal Nurses Association, and served as its president from 1983 to 1990. The association gave Aboriginal nurses, for the first time, a forum to meet, share ideas, and discuss concerns about health care careers, Aboriginal health, and the transfer of health care services to Aboriginal communities. The association worked towards ensuring that selected schools of nursing create programs relevant to the health needs of Aboriginal populations.
In 1990, Ms. Goodwill was elected president of the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health. During her term in office, she supported the participation of Aboriginal health professionals in the area of national and international health concerns.
Ms. Goodwill has dedicated her life to advancing the role of Aboriginal nurses in Canada, and to improving health care services to Aboriginal people. Her contributions can be measured in many ways, most profoundly in the improved quality of health, and thus quality of life, for Aboriginal people nation-wide.