Lisa Sam

Mike Jackson | Evan Adams | Michelle Bryant | Candis Callison | Ian Campbell | Bernard Casavant | Stacey Edzerza | Lenny Fisher | Dave Griffin | Trevor A. Joe | Tewanee Joseph | Rose Lesner | Duncan McCue | Carey Newman | Cherie Joy Rochelle Peal | Jason Rock | Lisa Sam

There’s nothing like high school sports and good team-mates, says Lisa Sam, to teach you a few things about life. And she speaks from experience.

Being part of volleyball and basketball teams as a high school student opened the world to her – giving her a chance to see places outside her small town of Fort St. James, a reason to keep her grades up, and the confidence to make good choices.

It’s a big part of what led her to become a Community Health Nurse.

Lisa, who is a member of the Nlaka’pamuxw First Nation, went to a Catholic school and later to a public high school in Fort St. James, which is a town in the very centre of British Columbia. She graduated from high school and worked for a short while as a waitress, and later as a ski instructor and Band recreation organizer – but she wasn’t quite satisfied.

“I watched my younger sister graduate and go to college. This made me say to myself, maybe I’ll try going to college myself. But I didn’t really believe in myself. I set myself up to think that I’d probably fail.”

But she didn’t fail. The core of determination that she developed on the basketball and volleyball courts got her through college. She took university transfer courses at Chemainus Native College, and then went to the Native Access Program to Nursing at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, where they gave her a taste of all of the different subject areas. She realized that nursing was for her and she enrolled in a Nursing Program.

It wasn’t always easy, especially when her son was born during her first year of college. But she was determined to beat the odds and finish her degree.

She graduated at a time when nursing jobs were scarce. She managed to get some experience at the Band’s health centre in the summer, but decided that to have a better chance at finding full-time work she would take a Post Registered Nurse Program at UNBC. She went to school fulltime and graduated in 2000 with a nursing degree.

Since then, Lisa has been working for the Nak’azdli Band as a Community Health Nurse. She leads education programs and prevention programs, and talks with excitement about how she has involved the youth in the community in activities like creating murals on themes like drug awareness, AIDS awareness, nutrition, and safety.

Going home to work for her Band was a deliberate decision that Lisa made so that she could live near family and contribute to her community. But she reminds the youth she works with that they need to explore their options and not limit themselves to local opportunities. Of course, Lisa also encourages youth to take part in sports and other activities that give you a chance to travel and encourage you to make healthy choices.

Thinking About School
“Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can to explore and to find out what is out there – it will open up your world. You don’t have to go to school in the nearest city and you don’t have to work in your home Band or town unless you choose to – you can go anywhere and be anything.”
– Lisa

Copyright 2012 First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association