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In Tribute of Canada’s Nursing Officers: World War I to the Present

Mary Lynn Hetherington RN

Portrait photo Ronald Greene

National Nursing Week is May 11 - 17, 2009. The Salt Spring Island Historical Society is presenting a special program at its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, May 13, in honour of all nurses, with a special focus on Canada's Nursing Officers, including those from Salt Spring Island. The Canadian Nurses Association states that Canada had 3000 nurses serving in World War I and 4, 000 nurses serving in WWII. Canadian nurses were the only nurses in the allied armies with the rank of officers. These nursing sisters served in all three armed force branches, and all major theatres of war, in various medical and surgical settings, in field dressing stations, on hospital ships, and as flight nurses caring for evacuated soldiers during World War I and II and the Korean War

The first permanent nursing service was included in the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC) in 1904, and became an essential part of CAMC in World War I. The nurses‘ hard work during that war earned them recognition and respect as evidenced by the Nursing Sisters' Memorial, which was unveiled in 1926 in the Hall of Honour in the centre block of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Mary Lynn Hetherington, the presenter of this program, is a Registered Nurse who has great admiration for the Nursing Officers, both present and past. She is Past Legislative Representative of Region Two of the Ontario Nurses Association, representing nurses at Queens Park, Toronto and Parliament Hill, Ottawa for 7 years. During this period she had the pleasure of seeing the first Nursing Practice Officer, Dr. Josephine Flaherty hired for Canada and Dr. Dorothy Hall (previously with the World Health Organization) hired as the Nursing Practice Officer for the Province of Ontario. Mary Lynn points out that this was in direct result of lobbying on the parts of all three Nursing Bodies in Canada. She is Past President of the Registered Nurses Association-Huron Chapter, Past President of Ontario Nurses Association Local 112, Past President of the Friends of the Lucan Library, current member of the Canadian Nurses Association and the Emergency Nurses Association, both Canadian and American, BCNU, and the Registered Nurses of British Columbia. She has special interest in Nursing History, and the International Nursing Counsel.

Accession Number Interviewer Mary Lynn Hetherington RN
Date May 13, 2009 Location Central Hall 
Media digital recording Audio CD