Olivia Maracle

Indigenous leadership, LGBTQIA2S+ leadership, Indigenous nurses, LGBTQIA2S+ nurses
Helen Jean Brown
North Vancouver
Applied Science UBC Rising Star Award
UBC School of Nursing Excellence in MSN SPAR Project Research Award
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After completing my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), a PhD seemed the natural next step for me. When I think about what I want to do with my life, my years on this gorgeous planet, and how I wanted to spend my time, the choice seemed easy, and my direction appeared reveal itself, in a way. Social justice, activism, and leadership specifically within Indigenous and LGBTQIA2S+ circles interest me. As I am an Rn, these worlds intersect in real time, noticeably, ongoing. I am also interested in the Critical Social Theory. Here we see movement from thought to action. This is how I live my life - relevantly, an intentional journey. So, the choice to continue my work within academics, change based on gaps I see in my daily life, was a natural next step.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I have a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the U of A, but that was many years ago. As I no longer live in Alberta, the communities I know now are situated in Vancouver, so it made sense to complete my BSN and MSN at UBC. This is the University I personally feel most comfortable at. I have felt supported with my ideas, contributions, and unique point of view. I also have professional and career oriented connections there. It's a good place to plant seeds, and an open and safe place to have discussions about varied interests. You will find that there are people who will share your interests, and others who are onto other things. It's important to pay attention to all of these worlds and complex or fetching ideas, as you never know who what will grow from varied combinations.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

This PhD program feels an extension of what I was working on during my MSN program. Further, as my day job is that of an Rn, specializing in nursing makes sense to me. I also identify as a lesbian, and as Indigenous, (Mohawk). Both of these worlds, and those minority communities that intersect with and around them, interest me. I do not see enough of either of them or their connected groupings/communities in leadership positions within nursing. This is precisely where I wish to position myself within my PhD, and it is this program that will allow me the space to explore. Additionally, I can work while I continue my studies. In a place like Vancouver - this freedom is critical.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

I have lived in Vancouver for most of my adult life, so I cannot say I am surprised by anything in particular! I will say there is a gap between what happens out in the nursing world, and what is happening in academics. This is not specific to UBC, but a generalization. I think we need to work on relevancy. I think we need to talk to people outside of academics, versus staying safe within our professional circles. I believe this would tailor our focus more accurately on current ideology and movements happening in marginalized communities in Vancouver, right now.

This is precisely where I wish to position myself within my PhD, and it is this program that will allow me the space to explore. Additionally, I can work while I continue my studies. In a place like Vancouver - this freedom is critical.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I was an animal nurse (Animal Health Technician), for many many years before I was a human nurse, so the concept of building and the creation or concept of leadership has been ever relevant to me. We grow over time, one piece on another, one breath after another. You will have many careers and many interests that will turn into something else, so the idea of preparation and the conception of who I am, and who you are, is forever evolving, forever dreaming, and forever engaging.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Talk to people within and outside of your circles. Think about what is missing in your workplaces, your studies - the gaps. Connect with your muses. Don't be afraid to reach out, raise your hand, or stand tall. Think about your advantages and your place. Give up your space, your benefits, your spotlight, and focus them on communities, worlds, and people you care about. Think about the concepts of power and hope. Think about accessibility. Think about where you want to spend your lived days and hours. Your time is precious on this earth so make it relevant, make it matter. Be brave.


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