Sylvain Leblanc

Licensed Practical Nurse
Inuulitsivik Health Center, Puvirnituq

Sylvain Leblanc

“I had wanted to work up North for a very long time. At the beginning of my career, at the St-Vincent-de-Paul hospital in Sherbrooke, the assistant-head-nurse would do contracts in Fermont. At one point he said to me, “I could see you up North.” He left it at that but the idea never left me. One day, I felt the need for a change… They were looking for someone in Puvirnituq. They called me back two years after my interview. I went up to do my first stretch 6 years ago. Then I moved up North with my wife. During our two-year wait, the stars aligned. My wife was working in a pharmacy and now she is a beneficiary attendant. Our children had left the nest. We embarked on the journey without any expectations. We said to ourselves: “We’ll go and do our best. If one of us doesn’t feel right, we’ll come back south.”

I’m a team leader. I supervise over a dozen beneficiary attendants, almost all of whom are Inuit. For the Inuit, tomorrow is still far away. They really live in the present moment. Planning is a real challenge. It’s another way to frame certain priorities, both in a day’s work and in your personal life. We learn as much from them as they learn from us.”

In short

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I took my first responder training one month after I got to the Far North. I started slowly, with on-call shifts. To me, it’s another way to get involved with the community, to give back. I’ve always liked emergency services, the front line. It complements my work in the department, where I work in long-term care.

In general, the Inuit watch you for a while and assess whether they can trust you. You have to earn their trust. There’s a high employee turnover, but when you leave and come back, you advance a step. When you return from vacation, people from the village say, “Welcome home!” You feel like you’re in the right place. Everyone knows me, from team attendants, to villagers, to the co-op. Hearing my first, ‘Welcome home!’ was special.

I was starting to feel winded from the way things went on in the south. In the south, we distribute care; up North, we give care. It’s very important to maintain the human side of care. We are caring for people, not machines. I give my patients care the way I would like to be cared for. The work pace in the south makes it impossible to provide care in this way.

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