While it may be an unusual vacation destination (for those who have any) in Quebec, in addition to being a place where one can escape the summer heat wave, have a change of scenery and get to know another culture, there are even more reasons for us healthcare professionals to look to the North. There are three FIQ unions in the bays in northern Quebec: Ungava, James and Hudson evoke contrasting landscapes and professional experiences.
When I became president of the FIQ, I went on a tour of the Federation’s many unions to meet professionals from all backgrounds face to face. The tour concluded with a northern journey that was both bewildering and nourishing. I had memorable encounters and was charmed, worried, overwhelmed and impressed by the professional autonomy and diverse practice there.
I also felt shocked at times. Every northern clinic I visited had a door or window that had been broken in… However, while there, I mostly met with healthcare professionals who spoke all at once of their fears and contagious enthusiasm for the extended role, independence and ability to use the full breadth of their clinical judgement. At a time when the fight against racism is poignantly topical, we need to listen to what these healthcare professionals have to say about the importance of remaining open and non-judgemental and about mutual enrichment as trust is built with members of the community.
On this journey, we planted seeds of solidarity that continue to grow today. First with the representatives from the different bays who hadn’t necessarily had the chance to really see how things were going with their neighbours. Second, with these teams and the Federation, thanks to our deepening understanding of one another. Problems with attraction and retention and occupational health and safety often differ between the North and South, but we have more in common than we realize. We continue to foster this solidarity during periods of negotiation.
Since these images, people and moments were so significant, they became the springboard for a project we are presenting to you today. Many things were put on hold because of the pandemic, which is why we are launching this later than planned. However, it is with just as much pride that I invite you to visit the Providing Care Up North website. We would like you to discover and get to know the Far North through the rich culture of the people and the journey of healthcare professionals in the three bays.
There are huge challenges to tackle, and together we can overcome them, but it is key that we take the time to better understand one another. In addition to the magnificent landscapes (beautiful photos by Jacques Lavallée), the Far North is home to a professional practice that is as vast as its territory and values of solidarity around which we can all gather. To foster ties, build projects and support our vision of our professions in their most noble and beautiful forms: let’s provide care, with everything we are, in the North and South.