SLMHC’s Sofia España Awarded for Excellence

Sofia España in the SLMHC Lab

Sofia España, Medical Laboratory Assistant at Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC), is a proud recipient of the SickKids Award for Indigenous Nursing Students.

The award is given to Indigenous Nursing Students who demonstrate excellence and are interested in becoming a paediatric acute care nurse at SickKids upon graduation. The award includes a $5,000 bursary and a three-month placement at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, ON (the largest children’s hospital in Canada). 

España, a third year BScN – Registered Nurse student at Western University, is the first recipient of the award from her school and is one of four recipients of this year’s award.

España says she attributes her achievement, in part, to her time at SLMHC. She started working here in 2020 and eventually transitioned to working in the Laboratory in April 2021.

“I think we do such amazing work at our hospital, and I think especially with the effort towards paediatric care we have really started to push for our paediatric Indigenous clients, and so being able to witness that and the strength and prosperity we have at the hospital has really pushed me to apply for this award,” España says.

She loves the team and the teamwork she has experienced in her time in the lab, where she says she is made to feel like an equal.

“I can honestly say that nobody puts themselves higher up on a list; we’re all equals, and I walked into the lab at 19 years old, and they treated me just like people who had been there for 20 years. So, I think everyone has an equal opportunity here at the hospital and everyone can learn something. There are so many opportunities that the knowledge is never-ending here,” says España.

As for her future career plans, she is passionate about paediatric Indigenous health care.

“I’m very passionate about Indigenous paediatric health care, which is the whole point of this award, so I think to continue my education and research into paediatric Indigenous health care, I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I know there are some really fabulous opportunities at this hospital that I’d be interested in so just continuing my education on paediatric Indigenous health care.”

She is devoted to the growth and development of the Indigenous community. She finds encouragement in her family and from the community around her. España says winning this award also validates those who encouraged her to be unrelenting in the pursuit of her goals.

With that, she takes pride in being a beacon of hope for those in her community to let them know that they can achieve anything they wish to. As she moves into her fourth year at the Western University, she is looking forward to her placement at SickKids Hospital and the further opportunity she gets to not only grow professionally but to affect positive change in the lives of others.

“I would like to say how being from the North and being how strong of a community we are, it’s really important to let other people know that I was born and raised in Sioux Lookout and every opportunity I’ve had and everything that has led me to win this award has been because I‘ve been from the North,” España says. “Take the opportunities. We are strong; we are smart; we are capable of so much more than we believe we’re capable of here in the North.” 

SLMHC is extremely proud of Sofia and looks forward to her future endeavours and achievements.

“The Laboratory team and I could not be more proud of Sofia and her accomplishments. Her passion for healthcare, kindness to others and her ability to adapt to any situation has made her an exceptional member to our Lab team and in the future, one outstanding nurse. We are excited to see what her future holds,” says Leena Thibodeau, SLMHC Laboratory Manager.