Nurse Angélique

In 1734, a Black Portuguese-born woman, known by the name Marie-Joseph Angélique was publicly executed in Montréal, Canada. Her ‘crime’? Setting a fire that injured no one, but destroyed a lot of white capital. The supposed reason [for Angélique herself denied setting the fire until a confession after extreme torture] : to distract the townfolks while she ran away. Why did she need to run? Well, Angélique was a slave! That’s right, slavery was a practiced and protected institution here in Canada.

Now what does that have to do with contemporary nursing practice?

My Masters of Science in Nursing thesis work explores the connection between Angélique’s story, as a history of resistance, and contemporary Canadian nursing practice. I used the arts-based methodology of a/r/tography to generate ‘openings’ — emotional, unsettling, ruptures, cuts, tears — into the moral fabric of the benevolent nurse. A/r/tography involves the researcher engaging in an artistic practice. Between January 2022 and May 2022, I developed a 12 minute long drag-burlesque piece entitled ‘Nurse Angélique’. On May 11, 2022, I had an unethical performance [as in, I did not get ethics for this performance, and thus it is not captured within my publishable research as a scholar] during Canada’s National Nursing week. You can watch a promotional trailer for that performance below:

#CNA2022 #WeAnswerTheCall #IKnowANurse #NationalNursingWeek #IND2022 #Nurses2022 #VoiceToLead

If you want to learn more about Angélique, please read the work of historian Afua Cooper. If you are interested in seeing the performance (live or a recording), please contact me. If you are really keen, you can read my thesis 🙂

Still from the May 11, 2022 performance by Ray McEachern (they/them)

Past public performances:
-May 11, 2022: inaugural performance UBC
-July 1, 2022: Diasporic Dynasty
-May 8, 2023: UBC
-May 29, 2023: Black Canadian Studies Association Conference (Congress 2023, York University)

Past presentation of the work:
-Feb 28, 2023: BC History of Nursing Society
-May 28, 2023: Hannah Lecture for the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine (CSHM) and Canadian Association for the History of Nursing (CAHN).

Author: Kyra Philbert

Artist. Nurse. Scholar. A ciswoman settler on the unceded territories of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nations. A compassionate mess. She believes in futures where we (and our planet) all are safe, loved, respected and 'enough'.

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