Jordan Erickson and her mother Jody Prince will soon share an experience few mothers and daughters share. Both will graduate from the same four-year bachelor of science in nursing program next spring.
The program is accredited through the University of Victoria, but delivered through Aurora College in Yellowknife, N.W.T., the territory's capital. Jordan and Jody are now in the final year of the program.
"It has probably been the best four years of my life," Jordan said.
That Jordan would describe spending the past years in school with her mother as possibly the best years of her life was not a given when they started out together, at least according to Jody.
"Who wants to hang out with their mom for four years?" she said.
Before starting the nursing program, Jody was an early childhood educator in Fort St. James, a small community in Northern B.C., but nursing was always an aspiration. Both Jody and Jordan were living in Inuvik when Jordan decided she would enter the program. Jody decided it was a good time to apply as well.
"I got accepted, and here I am," she said.
The mother and daughter — who say they are mistaken for sisters at times — both describe their already strong relationship growing deeper over the course of the program.
"I've definitely learned a lot more about my mom than I would have known previously," Jordan said. "We're a lot closer, if that's possible."
Jordan said having her mother around helped take some of the pressure off of travelling for school, and maybe helped keep her on top her studies.
"She hassles me about doing homework all the time — which is not the best part of this — but it's awesome to have a study partner, someone to bounce ideas off of if I'm ever stuck on a paper or clinical questions," Jordan said.
"It's been great to have a built-in friend right from year one."
'This is not a good idea'
Jordan initially encountered some scepticism to the idea of completing a small nursing program with her mother (Jody said there are 18 people in their fourth year class).
"I think one of my first interactions with an instructor, the first thing she said was: 'This is not a good idea. They can't do this.' But here we are," Jordan said.
"We're in fourth year and we have done it. We're at the end line."
The end of one line is the beginning of another. Both plan to pursue nursing careers in the North, and may eventually cross professional paths at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife.
At 41-years-young, Jody says has plenty of energy to make a second career out of nursing. Sharing that career with her daughter will be special.
"I look forward to seeing her working as a nurse and becoming a professional," Jody said. "We're going to end up being colleagues. I'm looking forward to that next step."
Sharing their nursing studies hasn't been the only highlight of the program. Jody is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and Jordan is a member of the Nak'azdli First Nation near Fort St. James.
"There's lots of talk of reconciliation," Jody said. "For me … this is what it looks like. We're getting educated. We're going to take care of Indigenous people. We have six Indigenous students in our class alone, so that's six Indigenous nurses that are going to enter the field next year.
"It's amazing to me."
With files from Rachel Zelniker