Damion Bennett is a Registered Nurse in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Foothills Medical Centre. He hails from Jamaica where he received his nursing training, working as both an educator and bedside nurse in premiere centers in the heart of the Caribbean. A dedicated and accomplished professional, he delivers superior patient care with a genuine and compassionate approach. He carries passion for the nursing profession and profound love for his family on his sleeve. Beneath a hulking exterior lies a gentle and vibrant personality; a well-balanced composition of positivity, spirituality and culture that brightens the lives of those around him. He truly personifies the Jamaican expression, “of a many one people”.
Q: Tell me about your nursing experience in Jamaica...
A: I was working in Jamaica at the University Hospital in West Indies as a Critical Care Nurse in the CVICU and general ICU. It’s a heavily funded, part private part public facility. I also had a full-time job as a Nursing Educator as well. I worked a 0.7 in the ICU and a 1.0 as an educator. I worked every weekend on Friday and Saturday nights, twelve hours shifts. It’s a funny story but when I applied for my license to come here, CARNA’s RN consultant sent me an email ask-
ing me to clarify my hours because I was working so much. I also did some volunteer military service in Jamaica as part of the reserve forces. I didn’t have chil- dren at that time. At that time my wife was working a full-time job in the same ICU that I was working and was teaching part time too. We were young and living a high intense life. At the same time, I was involved heavily in the nurses’ union, the Caribbean Nurse’s Organization, by volunteering for anything to do with the ICU. I finished my master’s in education in 2013 at Walden University in Minneapolis.
Q: How did you end up coming to be in Calgary, Alberta?
A: I never had Calgary in my mind. My parents are both Jamaican, but my dad went to Chicago and said we should come check it out. I had been there before and wasn’t sure I wanted to go back. My dad insisted that I get my nursing license and go there but I wasn’t convinced. My wife suggested we try Canada. Canada at the time had a skilled workers program. They were basically recruiting professionals. My wife was in the program and decided that we should go to Canada. My wife was researching the best places to live in Canada and we picked Calgary. I love it here man. It’s my home.
Q: What is the greatest challenge in the work- place today?
A: People not being as real as they ought to be. Both patients and staff. Racism here in Canada is subtle. People say one thing to your face and another behind your back. I want to bring awareness to challenges that face minority nurses in the workplace. People are of the notion that it’s all sunshine and rainbows and there’s denial that problems exist. I need to stand up, pull my shoulders back, and use my voice. If you see a wrong and you fail to identify and call it wrong, you’re worse than the person doing it. It enables and allows the behaviour to continue.
Q: Why is the union important to you?
A: The union is a very emotional topic for me. I have a license because of UNA. I have a career because of UNA. I knew UNA was here but didn’t understand the depth that they were involved in nursing and in life in Canada. UNA and my management team at the Rockyview supported me at a time when I needed it most. They gave me an opportunity and a life within nursing in Canada. That life is not just mine; it’s my family’s, my children’s, my wife’s.
For more on this Member Spotlight please check out our UNA Local 115 Newsletter.