2023 Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture Hero Banner

Nurturing our roots toward health and healing

2023 Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture

Alumni All-Access | Oct. 14 

Grey Eagle Resort and Casino


Celebrate the 10th anniversary of UCalgary Nursing’s Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture. On this special occasion, follow Debbie Smith, BN'94, Siksika First Nation member and co-ordinator of Iiyikinaami (Spirit Helper), as she leads you through her personal journey into Canada’s Indigenous health-care traditions and practices.   

“Nurturing our roots toward health and healing: the story of Iiyikinaami (Spirit Helper)” will introduce you to Smith, a Blackfoot woman with a 30-year career in First Nations health. She will share the importance of family, relationships, the community and being in relationship with the land and tell you about Iiyikinaami — the fusing of Indigenous and Western ways — which will move health care forward for us all.  

*Iiyikinaami: Spirit Helper is the Blackfoot name gifted to the Indigenous route of UCalgary Nursing’s Bachelor of Nursing, in partnership with Old Sun Community College.     

Reception: 6:30 p.m. | Lecture and Q&A: 7:30 p.m. | Coffee and sweets: 8:50 p.m. 

The evening will also feature a drumming performance. 

This event is now over. Thank you for attending!

Debbie Smith, BN'94

Debbie Smith (she/her)

Co-ordinator of Iiyikinaami (Spirit Helper), Old Sun Community College

Debbie Smith, BN’94, received her degree from UCalgary Nursing and has spent the past three decades working in First Nations health. She comes from the Siksika Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy and was given the name Apaastaki (“Bridge Woman”) by a Siksika Elder. She learned early on the many issues faced by First Nations people, including those in the health-care system, and hopes to make a difference in her new role as co-ordinator of Iiyikinaami (Spirit Helper) where she will encourage Indigenous students at Old Sun Community College to become proud registered nurses. 

About the Moderator

Dr. Heather Bensler (she/her)

Assistant dean – academic partnerships, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary

Dr. Heather Bensler, BN’97, EdD’22, joined the Faculty of Nursing in August 2017 as a tenure-track assistant professor (teaching) and as director of Indigenous Initiatives, with a focus on faculty and curriculum development. Prior to joining the university, she worked for three years in South America with the Indigenous People’s Technology & Education Centre, where she developed medical training programs for Indigenous leaders. In her current role, she is responsible for ongoing development, sustainment and extension of collaborative partnerships in undergraduate nursing education. 

Dr. Heather Bensler, BN’97, EdD’22, UCalgary Nursing Assistant Dean – Academic Partnerships

The Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture is an annual event in memory of Marguerite Schumacher (1920-2013), first dean of the Faculty of Nursing at UCalgary (1974–1979). The event celebrates inspirational nursing alumni leaders.

Alumni programs are made possible through the generous support of UCalgary Alumni Association Partners TD Insurance and Manulife