Student portrait: “I am always looking for opportunities to learn” – Gabrielle, a nurse in Montreal

Gabrielle's nurse station at Montreal Olympic Stadium. Montreal, Canada, August 2017 © Gabrielle
Gabrielle's nurse station at Montreal Olympic Stadium. Montreal, Canada, August 2017 © Gabrielle

Gabrielle (her name has been changed) has taken our online course on the rights of refugees. She tells us about her experiences defending human rights and the impact that the course has had on her actions.

Gabrielle is a 27-year-old nurse from Quebec who has worked as a school and youth nurse with Canada’s indigenous communities. Her calling to become a nurse came from her wish to help marginalized sectors of society. After recently moving to Montreal, she looked for a way to get involved when growing numbers of refugees started arriving.

When I saw that there was an online course on refugee law, I knew that I would enrol because it's a subject I really care about and try to defend as well as I can.

At first, she helped in a voluntary capacity until she realized just how big a need there was for nurses; she then decided to use her professional skills to assist the refugees. Working as a volunteer at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, where almost 1,000 refugees were received, came naturally for her as it was a crisis situation.

It was natural for me to volunteer in the crisis situation. I’d just finished the online course, which strengthened by convictions and opinions, and motivated me to get involved. It was very stressful, as I had no idea what I was getting into, but I'm really glad I did it.

Gabrielle has also written a letter to a Canadian Member of Parliament who described refugees as “illegal immigrants” in the media. Using the definition materials provided on the course, she reminded him of the correct definitions, mindful that public figures have a responsibility in their choice of words, given that what they say can have a big influence on those who listen to them.

Just after I completed the online course, an MP talked to the media using the term ‘illegal immigrants’. Regardless of what’s someone’s opinion may be, especially a person with influence, I think it's essential to use the right terms. So I wrote them a message, simply to explain what I thought and give them the correct definitions.

Since taking the course, while Gabrielle’s perspective has not changed, the definitions provided in the course now enable her to express herself better. According to her, having clear, precise and reliable information has given her more confidence in discussions. If you too would like to know more about the rights of refugees, take our online course on this subject. You can take our MOOC on Human Rights Defenders if you want to learn more about human rights.