Dr. Helen Glass, O.C., O.M., Ed.D., Hon. LL.D., Hon. D.Sc.

(1917-2015)

The Helen Glass Centre for Nursing, at the University of Manitoba, bears the name of the woman credited with pioneering work as a nurse and teacher.

Born at Regina, Saskatchewan, on Oct. 24, 1917, to Harold Preston and Mildred Landon, Helen Glass received her diploma in nursing (1939) from the Royal Victoria Hospital School of Nursing in Montreal. After working as a nurse for a time, Glass began a career in nursing education in 1953, at the Holy Family School of Nursing, at Prince Albert, Sask.

She moved to Winnipeg in 1955, where she earned a certificate in teaching and supervision from the University of Manitoba in 1958. In 1960, she received a bachelor of science in nursing from Columbia University, and her masters of arts in 1961. She earned a master of education (1970) and a doctorate in education (Nursing) (1971), also from Columbia.

In 1962, Glass started teaching at the University of Manitoba’s School of Nursing and served as its Director from 1972 to 1979. She played an important role in establishing a graduate program in nursing and in creating the Manitoba Nursing Research Institute. She was president of the Canadian Nurses Association and the Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses. She also contributed to the wording and scope of the Canada Health Act, in 1984.

Glass served as the first vice-president of the International Council of Nurses. She brought an international perspective to her profession through her consultation with the World Health Organization and the Danish Nurses Organization. She was revered and admired by her colleagues and students alike. She set the bar very high and served as an exemplary role model and mentor for many.

In recognition of her contributions to the nursing discipline and the community at large, Glass was inducted into the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1987), Order of Canada (1988) and Order of Manitoba (2008), and she received the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), and Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012). She was inducted into the Teacher’s College Nursing Hall of Fame at Columbia University. She received honorary degrees from Memorial University (1983), University of Western Ontario (1986), St. Francis Xavier University (1991), Université de Montréal (1993), and McGill University (1995). In 2013, she was presented with the Centennial Award from the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba, effectively making her the “nurse of the century.”

Among her many other honours were the Peter D. Curry Chancellor’s Award from the University of Manitoba (1993), the Jeanne Mance Award from the Canadian Nurses Association (1992), The Mary Tolle Wright Leadership Founders’ Award from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honour Society in Nursing (1989), the Louise McManus Medal for distinguished and meritorious service from Columbia University Nursing Education Alumni (1984), and the YWCA Woman of the Year Award for Education (1979).

Glass died in Winnipeg on Feb. 14, 2015.

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