So what’s in a piece of paper, anyway?

HAINES JUNCTION If you ask Ines Hartmann of Haines Junction, she will tell you what is in a piece of paper… Anyway.

HAINES JUNCTION

If you ask Ines Hartmann of Haines Junction, she will tell you what is in a piece of paper…

Anyway.

She will matter-of-factly tell you a story of three Ps — patience, perseverance, positive thinking.

And family love.

Over the past four years, this industrious woman has fought through major obstacles to finally attain her Canadian nursing re-certification.

She also recently completed her required 225 hours experience to gain Registered Nurse status. “Another piece of paper,” she says and laughs.

In 1994, Hartmann worked as a fully qualified psychiatric nurse in Switzerland (and had worked at that for several years). That summer, she and her husband, Beat, ventured to Canada to drive the entire Alaska Highway.

“Our pickup broke down in Haines Junction,” says Hartmann. “It took so long to get it fixed that by the time we did, it was time to fly home.

“We were in Haines Junction for three weeks. We never have finished driving the highway.” She laughs her infectious laugh and says, “But we’re going next week, 14 years later.”

While the couple was stranded in the Junction, they looked around and ended up buying Billy Burger, a fast-food outlet.

As Hartmann tells this part of her story, one can detect playfulness reflected in her eyes, her voice and at the corners of her mouth.

“We fell in love with Haines Junction; my hobby was cooking, so we said, ‘Why not?’

“But we did go home and think it over seriously first,” she adds.

The Hartmanns immigrated to the village in 1995.

They transformed Billy Burger into a new building, and for 10 years, operated it as Frosty Freeze, a busy summer eatery and bed-and-breakfast.

Since 1995, Hartmann has managed their fast-food business, had two children, worked at other jobs and ambulance service, helped construct their new house, and fought off breast cancer — all at the same time.

And, oh yes: She had to learn English, too.

On top of all that, for the past two years (while she was ill and working), she studied nursing.

Hartmann says, “I was content with Frosty Freeze for about 10 years, but working in home care and ambulance service led me to look into re-certification for nursing.

Her eyes light up and she smiles. “I got the feeling that, OK, this is my world again.”

She adds, “I knew I would have to do the nursing exam, but didn’t know I’d have to do the refresher course.”

Hartmann explains that at first there were no distance education programs for nursing re-certification.

“And no way could I leave for two years,” she adds.

When she later found a distance nursing re-certification program (the paper and books kind), she spent one and a half years processing her Swiss papers just to qualify her for acceptance into the program.

“All my schooling, certificates, and employment from Switzerland had to be traced and translated. That took a long time,” she says.

“And then I had to go to Calgary to write an English-as-a Second-Language exam before I could even apply for the nursing refresher program.”

Hartmann started her refresher course in February 2006. Every two-three weeks she wrote an exam until June 2007 (22 exams in all.)

She also wrote the Canadian Registered Nursing exam in October 2007.

In July 2006, Hartmann had surgery for breast cancer, then chemotherapy and radiation.

She continued to study even through surgery complications, and did some hours of home-care work and helped at Frosty Freeze. (They sold that business in February 2007.)

One can sense Hartman’s passion and strength as she talks.

She says, “I think doing this course was probably something that kept me on top of all this hard time. I really wanted to do this. I was just not giving up.

“It was very hard,” she adds matter-of-factly.

So what kind of resilience, sense of humour, and fortitude must a woman have to combat all this and come out seemingly unscathed and vital?

Hartmann credits her family and the community.

“Beat, my husband, was very, very supportive through everything, often taking over all my chores and keeping the girls quiet so I could study,” she says.

“It was sometimes hard for the girls (Wendy and Lucy), but they are quite independent. My working in Whitehorse is a little harder on them.”

“I think Beat’s and my relationship is exceptional because I’m sure I’m not easy, but for some reason the two of us work wonderfully together — in any situation,” she adds.

“It was absolutely awesome. I couldn’t have done it without him.

“And, the community here — I was amazed at how much support I got. People offered to help, and I always had someone watching the kids when Beat couldn’t.”

What was the most difficult of all the obstacles?

“To start the process, all that paperwork process,” Hartmann says. “I almost gave up. I would tell people to do that as soon as they come into a new country.

“Another thing that I really hated was because I like to be always in control of myself, and now I couldn’t be — for example when I was under anesthetic for my two surgeries, someone else was in control.

“I really hated that.”

What would Hartmann do differently if she could?

“I would start sooner and maybe take some of the courses Outside through regular classes.”

And what was the best part of the whole process?

She says, “Getting to know people in my profession again, and just knowing and getting the feeling that, yes, this is where I belong.

“That’s what I always wanted and I feel back home.”

Now after several months on casual hire at the Whitehorse General Hospital, Hartmann has accepted a position as a mental-health nurse — three, 12-hour shifts per week.

Hartmann and her family plan to move into their new house this summer.

“My goal then is to continue air-brush painting like I did in Switzerland,” she says.

Then she laughs and adds, “And finally we can finish driving the Alaska Highway.”

(The Hartmanns did finish driving the highway — to Fairbanks for Easter.)

 Elaine Hurlburt is a writer living in Haines Junction.

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read