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Celebrating Black History Month through the stories of two incredible Black nurses

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

February is Black History Month! Recently, the Government of Canada announced that this year's theme is 'Ours to Tell' as a means to promote open dialogue and a commitment to learning more about the stories Black communities in Canada have to tell about their histories, successes, sacrifices and triumphs.

To celebrate Black History Month, NSWOCC is proud to share the stories of two incredible Black nurses: Bernice Redmon and Clotilda Adessa Yakimchuk, C.M.

About Bernise Redmon:

Prior to the 1940s, Black students were not allowed to enroll in Canadian nursing programs, so Redmon had to leave the country to get her education. She graduated with a nursing diploma from St. Phillip Hospital Medical College in Virginia, U.S.A. in 1945, and returned home to Canada that same year. Upon returning, she became the first Black nurse to practice in public health when she secured a position in the Nova Scotia Department of Health. On top of that, she was appointed to the Victorian Order of Nurses in Canada—the first Black woman to do so. Thanks to her barrier-breaking career and the work of organizations and advocates for the rights of Black Canadians, Black women began to be trained and employed in Ontario hospitals in the late 1940s and 1950s.
Learn more about Bernise Redmon here.

About Clotilda Adessa Yakimchuk, CM:

Clotilda Yakimchuk was born and raised in Whitney Pier, Nova Scotia. In 1954, she became the first Black graduate of the Nova Scotia Hospital School of Nursing. Ms. Yakimchuk spent 50 years in the nursing profession. She served as President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Nova Scotia (now known as The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia). As founding president of the Black Community Development Organization, Clotilda Yakimchuk led the movement to provide affordable housing in low-income communities and improved living facilities for seniors.

These two amazing women helped shape Canadian Nursing history, and we acknowledge that what happened in the past has shaped and directed where we are heading in the future. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that we recognize the importance of Black History Month to support our path towards inclusivity and diversity and the end of anti-Black racism and discrimination in Canada.

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