UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour graduate nursing students in white academic spaces Hamzavi, Neda


Canadian Schools of Nursing are underpinned by white, colonial legacies that have shaped and defined what is valued as nursing knowledge and pedagogy. Despite historical attempts within academic institutions to address diversity and multiculturalism, efforts to address racism and to promote Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) scholarship have been slow to influence nursing education. Furthermore, faculty members and leadership at Schools of Nursing do not represent the diversity that exists in clinical nursing and the growing diversity in the graduate student population. Importantly, BIPOC nurse leaders, historically and presently, are repeatedly left unacknowledged as knowers and keepers of nursing knowledge. This lack of diversity today constitutes knowledge generation, research, and healthcare practices that do not reflect the increasingly diverse Canadian population. This study examined the experiences of BIPOC graduate nursing students as they navigated white academic spaces. BIPOC graduate nursing students are situated uniquely as they traverse leadership spaces that do not reflect their lived experiences or identities. In this study, eight BIPOC nurses who were either current graduate students or had graduated from a graduate program in the past five years from a Canadian nursing school were interviewed. Using narrative inquiry, epistemologically guided by critical constructivism, and theoretically underpinned by Critical Race Theory, participants were interviewed for the purpose of understanding their experiences in the nursing academy. The voices of these participants resulted in the construction of the following three themes: Entrenched in Whiteness, Erasure of Identity, and Navigating Belonging. Participants demonstrated both how they experience whiteness at the institution as well as how they create belonging for BIPOC. Participants demonstrated a desire to diversify nursing leadership in the academy and clinical spaces to better represent and respond to the healthcare needs of BIPOC. These study findings re-enforce the importance of the following recommendations: the need for Schools of Nursing to acknowledge their colonial and racist underpinnings; the need to diversify nursing faculty and the graduate nursing student population; and the need to conduct audits of nursing curricula and syllabi to ensure they reflect the multitude of ways of knowing beyond Eurocentric and Western knowledge.

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