Voices from JIBC | Kris Edwards

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Kris Edwards

EMR Lead Instructor, Health Sciences Division

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Love as Means to Engage with and Enhance Prehospital Care: 
A Reflection on Instructional Practice

My name is Kris and I have the very fortunate privilege to connect with, guide students, and facilitate workshops in the Health Sciences Division at the Justice Institute of BC (JIBC), Victoria campus. I began working at the JIBC in 2017 and am so very proud of all the work my colleagues and I do to support the students who choose to study at the JIBC. 

I come from a colonial, settler background on both my mother and father’s side of my family. My grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side are of European decent, my grandmother on my mother’s side is German, and my mother’s father is not known to our family. I can trace some of my cultural roots, but I have very little insight into my background, culture, identify, and heritage. Not having had a connection to my heritage has exposed a hole in my understanding of my lived experiences in the world and the way I reflect on my understanding of self. 

As an instructor in the Health Sciences Division, I am acutely aware that I contribute to the learning and development of students who are pursuing careers in prehospital care. This awareness leads me towards intentional and deliberate acts of welcoming students into the classroom who represent the diversity of British Columbians. I also acknowledge that those who live and reside in British Columbia (BC) also represent marginalized communities that have not traditionally had a place where voices contribute to the ways in which care, training, and capacity are delivered in their communities. 

I see the work I participate in as a gentle pivot away from historically traditional forms of post-secondary delivery, aiming towards what I can describe as love lead leadership. Leading from a place of love was never a focus in my first responder training and never entered the lexicon as a working and active paramedic, however, I now believe that intentional acts of constructive, systemically disruptive acts of love lead leadership contribute to innovations in the delivery of prehospital care, rooted in intentional social justice initiatives. Attempting to demonstrate and teach love as a tool for clinical care is not only an outcome of the research I conducted in my master’s degree program, but also serves as an act of innovation and defiance towards a healthcare system that has been identified as racist, providing inequitable care to vulnerable residents of BC. 

Expressions of care and love are the intentional acts I stive to provide in the courses I facilitate and for the students I support. Love is not a value commonly associated with the goals of educational experiences that I have ever been exposed to, but as an instructor who supports students who seek to provide care for patients in the most austere, inhospitable, and stressful conditions, love lead care becomes an intentional act of vulnerability that I endeavour to encourage through my workshops. As I self-reflect, the learning environment I seek to provide must be rooted in the care I wish to receive. Instructing deliberate acts of love lead care, encouraging self-reflection, and intentional acts of decolonization and unlearning, contribute to clinically rooted lifelong learning, supporting evidence-based practices that stand outside of traditional, clinically based pedagogies currently espoused.

Love led values represent actions that I hope encourage inclusive spaces where I might listen to, validate, and embrace the lived experiences of students. I often strive to create opportunities in the classroom where students are seen and heard. I am the first to acknowledge that I am not always successful, and it is in this reflection I find humbling opportunities for improvement. I am always seeking to develop a deeper understanding of the lived experiences which students bring to the learning environment. 

Ultimately, I strive to support the creation of learning environments that are inclusive, intentionally safe spaces for difficult conversations which encourage inclusivity and transformational leadership. I believe that the care provided to patients in British Columbia is directly tied to a process of self-reflection and discovery. Through an intentional focus on creating spaces where students might explore these tensions, I have seen students open-up and courageously discuss vulnerable topics that have led to increased trust, teamwork, cohesion, and effectiveness when caring for patients in the scenarios they are presented, while supporting each other during the stressful moments of their studies. 

It is in these ways that I use my reflections on my personal history, my lived experience, the research I have conducted, and the stories that students have provided to develop and maintain learning environments which are inclusive. It is through love lead leadership that I hope to create environments of equality which encourage the curious pursuit of equitable prehospital care, and environments which are welcoming. Ultimately, there is intention to create environments which celebrate the diversity of the student population and the communities we strive to serve.

Want to chat more with Kris? Reach out to him at kedwards@jibc.ca