Saint Francis Xavier (StFX)nursing department pilots new culturally safe curriculum - Article in the ‘The  Xaverian Weekly’, the StFX official student newspaper.

Aboriginal Nursing Student Mentorship Program

After a successful Pilot Project in early 2009, the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (C.I.N.A.) is implementing an Aboriginal Student Nursing Mentorship Program in select Nursing schools across Canada for the 2009/2010 school year. The Aboriginal Student Nursing Mentorship Program is aimed at Aboriginal students who are currently enrolled in Nursing. C.I.N.A. intends to collaborate with five Nursing School across Canada with five Student Mentee/Nurse Mentor pairs from each school. The Mentorship Program will begin in October 2009 and end in March 2010.

The Aboriginal Student Nurse Mentorship Program aims to increase and support Aboriginal nursing students by providing a culturally safe and secure mentoring experience and by developing meaningful, mutually respectful and responsible relationships with experienced Aboriginal nurses. One aspect of this program is the online forum on the C.I.N.A. website. Student Mentees and Nurse Mentors will have an online forum space on the secure Membership Section of our C.I.N.A. website to exchange ideas, information, experiences and stories.

Mentorship Program Objectives

To provide Aboriginal Nursing students a culturally safe mentoring experience;

  • To ensure that each pair of Mentor/Mentee meets according to guidelines outlined by C.I.N.A.;
  • To ensure the pairing of each Nurse Mentor and Student Mentee is suitable for each participant
  • To provide an online space where Mentors and Mentees can exchange ideas, information, experiences and stories;
  • Evaluate and report on the development, implementation and outcomes of the program.

Why an online Mentorship Forum?

The Mentorship Forum will be a secure and safe assembly place for open discussions to occur between Student Mentees and Nurse Mentors. The forum will allow Mentees to obtain practical and honest career advice and guidance from experienced Registered Nurses. The forum format will allow information to flow in a timely and useful manner that responds to contemporary and ongoing Mentee concerns. Participants will be able to log on to the secure Membership section of the C.I.N.A. website where they can view short profiles of all potential Mentors. Questions may be directed to a specific Mentor or to the Mentors as a group. Students at different Nursing schools can also communicate with each other as a group for common interests, ideas and for support. Each Mentor will have listed several "Key Areas of Mentorship Interest" to assist the potential Mentees in forming and directing questions.

 What is Mentoring?

Mentor’ as a term has its origins in the ancient classic, Homer’s Odyssey. The hero, Odysseus, left his son, Telemachus, with a good friend when he went off to fight in the Trojan War. While Odysseus was off at war, the goddess of domestic arts, Athena, disguised herself as an old man and becomes Telemachus’ guardian and teacher. Her name was " Mentor". Mentor became Telemachus’ trusted counsellor and guide into adult life. Mentor is frequently described as a wise, experienced and faithful advisor to an aspiring profession.

The modern term has evolved to describe a complex phenomenon that can be formed instinctively or naturally, however, can also be developed via organized programs, such as C.I.N.A.’s student mentorship program. Mentoring is more than the experienced guiding the inexperienced as it involves into the building of a dynamic relationship. The individuals (mentor and mentee) engage with each other and share their personal experiences and philosophies of practice in order to develop a partnership. This partnership is characterized by enabling and cultivating by the mentor to enable the empowerment of the mentee.

Mentors take a specific interest in assisting nursing students with their professional and career development over time. While the term may be used interchangeably, Mentoring is not the same as preceptoring or supervision. Preceptors act for their employers to assist a new employee or student to orientate and settle into a new role, while clinical supervision is aimed at providing nurses with support to critically reflect on their clinical practice.

Benefits of Mentoring

The strengths and benefits of mentoring arise from the reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship that is developed between the Mentor and the Mentee.

Benefits of being a Mentor

  • Enhanced self-fulfillment;
  • Increased job satisfaction and feeling of value;
  • Increased learning, personal growth and leadership skills;
  • Motivation for new ideas; and.
  • Potential for career advancement.

 Benefits of being a Mentee

  • Increased competence;
  • Increased confidence and sense of security;
  • Decreased stress;
  • Expanded networks;
  • Leadership development;
  • Insight in times of uncertainty;
  • Increase knowledge through sharing;
  • Sense of support through mentorship
  • Encouragement
  • Guidance and support
  • Honesty
  • Candid information / advice
  • "Big picture" view
  • Honest appraisal of person’s abilities
  • Assistance in making good choices
  • Idea stimulation; and,
  • Benefit from the Mentor’s experiences

How to Participate in the Mentorship Program?

  • Mentees must be enrolled in the select Nursing schools in the 2009/2010 school year;
  • Both the Nurse Mentors and Student Mentees must be members of C.I.N.A.;

For more information, contact C.I.N.A by e-mail at You can also call at (613) 724-4677 ext 24.

The Mentorship Program is a work in progress and more information will be announced as it becomes available.