Teri Carnegie is a nurse by day and whoever she wants to be by night. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

Heart of Our City: The many faces of Carnegie

Teri Carnegie is a nurse by day and Queen of Hearts by night

When Teri Carnegie was a little girl she woke up in a hospital bed with a band aid on her neck. But she was not scared because her Cabbage Patch Kids woke up with the same band aid.

When it came time for a big scary needle to pierce into her veins, she was not afraid either. Her Cabbage Patch Kids were getting that exact same needle.

At the age of three to four Teri didn’t know many things. She didn’t really know what was wrong. All she knew was that her lymph nodes would cause her neck to swell out so she spent a fair bit of time getting needles and IVs for that.

The growth was removed, the bandages came off and everything came back normal. To this day she still is unsure what was wrong.

But there was one thing that young Teri did know for certain during those turbulent times, she knew she was safe. After all, if the Cabbage Patch Kids girls were fine, then Terri would be alright too.

That is also when she decided she wanted to be a nurse.

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“The nurses at the hospital made it really safe when I had surgery,” she said as she pointed to a fading scar tucked between her chin and her neck. “It just made it not as terrible of an experience as it could have been. And so I knew that when I grew older, I wanted to be a nurse and I wanted to do things like that for people.”

Little girls dreams do come true.

Carnegie graduated in 2002 at Coast Mountain College (then known as Northwest Community College) in Terrace. She completed the Licensed Practical Nurse program and the Registered Nurse program.

From there she worked as an adolescent health nurse.

Teri Carnegie makes all her costumes from scratch, which can sometimes take months given her busy schedule as a nurse. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

If Carnegie went back to work today, she would be working mainly with seniors.

“One of the nice things is allowing them to care for you. So a lot of times going and seeing a senior everyone does ‘for not with.’ So finding ways to do stuff with a person instead of just telling them this is the way it’s going to be,” she said.

The reason why Carnegie is no longer working as a typical nurse is because she is now caring for other nurses as an elected individual who represents the nurses from Haida Gwaii up to Atlin over to Houston and Granisle for the British Columbia Nurses’ Union.

“I make sure that nurses are being taken care of and that the collective agreement is being upheld,” she said.

Carnegie travels every two weeks each month, sometimes more, to ensure she is representing the interest of her fellow nurses.

“I love my job and I love to see people get better and to help them see that there are people that care about them and want to help make their lives better,” she said.

She has also been selected as one of 250 people who will attend the Governor General Leadership Conference, a selection of mid-career leaders from across the nation to go and learn about Canada and develop a plan for Canada’s future.

On her off time she loves to travel to Prince George for Northern FanCon where she competes in cosplay competitions.

Unlike her childhood dream of being a nurse, Carnegie had no idea she would be so into cosplay until she first began five years ago at the first convention.

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Teri Carnegie spent four months preparing her Queen of Hearts costume for her cosplay competition at Prince George’s FanCon. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

”It’s a really good outlet for creativity. It’s also a very supportive group of people. So, even if you completely fail at making your costume, people still tell you, you look great. Which is really nice because you don’t always see that in many things,” Carnegie said.

The rules of cosplay competitions are simple, build your own costume from scratch, document yourself doing it and get in character and have stage presence. The building part is not so easy.

Carnegie spent four months putting together her most recent costume, the Queen of Hearts, from Alice Through the Looking Glass with Johnny Depp.

“She has a really great skit in the movie where she yells at everyone that she comes out. You always want to find something that’s going to be fun,” she said.

Carnegie’s very first costume was inspired by her favourite Disney character Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

“I loved making that costume. That’s something I really enjoy doing. So doing a character you enjoy is a key part but also if you’re going to be competing finding a way that you can have fun doing the skit. So for Jupiter Jones from Jupiter Ascending, I did the wedding dress because it was stunning,” she said.

Teri Carnegie as Jupiter Jones from Jupiter Ascending. (photo courtesy of Teri Carnegie)

Cosplay has three levels of competition, Novice, Journeyman and Master. Carnegie has not competed in the highest level yet but has come in an impressive second place in the first two categories with her cosplay of Diva Plavalaguna, a blue alien from Fifth Element.

Teri Carnegie as Diva Plavalaguna, a blue alien from Fifth Element. (photo courtesy of Teri Carnegie)

This year at May’s FanCon she placed second in journeyman with the Queen of Hearts, and is hoping to compete next as Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok.

“It’s a great outlet and it’s a good way of putting everything in your life on hold. So the making dinner for my family or going for tea with my friends, those are all great things to do. This is something that’s completely for me,” she said.

With all the hardwork Carnegie puts into her daily job, she deserves to be treated as a queen, even if just for a day.

Teri Carnegie spent four months preparing her Queen of Hearts costume for her cosplay competition at Prince George’s FanCon. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

READ MORE HEART OF OUR CITY: The humble automotive mechanic next door


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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