Nagia Idel Mehdaoui

Care Counsellor Nurse
Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, Chisasibi

Nagia Idel Mehdaoui

“I have been working up North since 2013. Being in contact with a culture, practice and environment that are completely different from what I know and that are so textured and have so much value, is an extraordinary experience. I wanted to work up North because I needed new challenges. I had been in Quebec for a few years and I felt the need to see other things. I had heard that there was an extended practice in the region from a colleague at the CLSC where I was working.

It wasn’t a very complicated process to go. But I have a husband and kids so I wanted to go try it out before moving there for good. “In and out” contracts were only available through agencies. Employers from the northern network were only offering full time work. I was hired by an agency that trained me for an extended practice role and gave me a one-year contract without the obligation to stay on after. I was not entitled to a northern leave because I wasn’t hired by an institution in the network. So, I had to quit my position in southern Quebec.

I arrived in Chisasibi, James Bay on July 2. I lived with two roommates who were nurses. I had never lived with roommates in my life and it was weird to find myself living like a teenager at 43 years old! I then started my first 4-week replacement. I received a very warm welcome from my colleagues.”

In short
  • Care counsellor nurse
  • Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay, Chisasibi
  • President of the Syndicat nordique des infirmières et infirmiers de la Baie James – – at the time of the president’s tour
  • Member of the FIQ negotiation committee

"I felt a culture shock when I realized just how much the culture was integrated into all spheres of the Indigenous peoples’ lives. We have no choice but to integrate it into our practice, which makes it different. Traditional remedies work alongside modern medicine, there is prayer at meetings..."

And then there’s bringing my family along. I had two of my kids with me. That took organization. We tried homeschooling for three years, but that has its limits. It was also a big change for my husband who, unfortunately, wasn’t hired up North. We lived differently, and that requires favourable conditions to keep people, especially families, up North.

Only the North offers such diverse access to diverse populations, because even with a full-time position in a northern clinic in a mother-child program, I am also in charge of all population profiles when I am on-call. We have to keep a broad range of skills up-to-date.

Now the challenge is to ensure that the working conditions we are offered are good enough to compensate for the sacrifices we make. Especially if you want to stay there for a longer time, which involves moving your family and ensuring your spouse can find a job. In the end, you always grow both personally and professionally!