Assiniboine Community College is now operating a one-time-only Aboriginal LPN course in Southport. Dean of Health and Human Services Karen Hargreaves shares how it came about.

"The program really is something that has been in the making for a few years. It's in partnership with the First Peoples Development Inc., Southern Health-Sante, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. It was identifying a need for an indigenous program in this region to fill the needs of the first nations communities that have been partnering with us as well as the regional health authority."

She says over 20 students are studying for the two-year practical nursing diploma and started in March with an academic prep for students. She notes they come from six first nations communities, and began their studies in July, hoping to graduate in May of 2018.

Hargreaves adds, "There's a lot of benefits. The program is a very high-demand program, to begin with. So, wherever we offer it there's usually a waiting list to get in. But with this particular program, in partnering with the first nations communities, students who may not have met all of the academic requirements of the program have the opportunity to do so in the preparation portion."

She says it's possible the course may be offered again, but there are three rural rotating programs a year at A.C.C. One of them is here in Portage, and has been operating for the last several years. She notes when they look at where the rural rotating programs go, they reach out to all communities in the Regional Health Authorities to learn where the highest need is. Portage has repeatedly been among them for a few years now.

The six communities involved are Long Plain, Sandy Bay, Dakota Tipi, Swan Lake, Roseau River, and Dakota Plains. She adds the Manitoba Métis Federation is also involved.