New scholarship aims to keep homegrown health professionals in the North

Fund will be open to post-secondary applicants pursuing health-related fields

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Former Yellowknife residents Rob Butler and Tannis Hushagen have been wanting to give back to the community they once called home for years.

With the launch of a new scholarship geared towards students in the NWT, Yukon and Nunavut, the husband and wife duo are doing just that.

Butler and Hushagen have teamed up with the Yellowknife Community Foundation to establish the Butler-Hushagen Health Education Fund.

The $2,000 scholarship will be open to students in all three territories who are pursuing postsecondary education in a field related to health.

“As a graduate of the Registered Nursing program at Aurora College, I have seen the benefits that supporting northern students can have,” wrote Hushagen in a news release issued by the non-profit foundation.

“This was a contributing factor to inspire us to set up a fund to assist Northerners striving to help others by furthering their education in health related fields,” added Hushagen.

Butler and Hushagen, who now reside in Calgary, settled in Yellowknife in 1981. A planned two-year stay turned into two decades. Butler became the owner of graphics company Inkit and he and Hushagen raised two daughters.

“We worked hard, but the North was very good to us,” Butler told NNSL Media in a recent interview.

“So this is our way of giving back. It’s something that’s dear to our hearts. Health is important for everyone.”

Photo courtesy of Yellowknife Community Foundation. Rob Butler and Tannis Hushagen. Feb. 3, 2020.

As a requirement for the Butler-Hushagen Health Education Fund, applicants must have plans to return to the North to practice following the completion of their diploma program – part of a push to foster homegrown health professionals while attracting and retaining much-needed health care providers in the territories.

“Like anything in the North, it is difficult to recruit and keep not just healthcare professionals but teachers and other professionals. There’s all sorts of professionals that come and go,” said Butler.

Formerly on the board at the old Stanton Territorial Hospital, Butler said he saw firsthand how difficult it was to recruit and retain healthcare providers, especially in the territory’s more remote communities.

Applicants for the new scholarship aren’t limited to aspiring nurses or doctors. The fund accepts any student pursuing a health-related field in post-secondary, from would-be social workers to dental hygienists.

“We are so very pleased that Rob and Tannis chose the Yellowknife Community Foundation as a way to give back to the North,” stated foundation president Robin Greig.

“This new scholarship will be an important contribution to the success of many students over many years to come.

Applications will open in early March. Students have until May 15 to submit an application. Submissions can be made at the Yellowknife Community Foundation’s website: www.ykcf.ca.

Butler and Hushagen will be in Yellowknife on Saturday, when the Butler-Hushagen Health Education Fund is formally announced at the Yellowknife Community Foundation’s annual fundraising gala at the Explorer Hotel.

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