History of Nursing in Pacific Canada

Black (in)Visibility : Black Nurses in Canada who Paved the Way Flynn, Karen; De Sousa, Ismalia; Dordunoo, Dzifa; Wytenbroek, Lydia


In recognition of Black History month, the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry at the UBC-V School of Nursing hosted an online nursing history panel on February 25, 2021, called: “Black (in)Visibility: Black Nurses in Canada who Paved the Way.” It recognizes the significant historical contributions of Black nurses to health care in British Columbia and Canada. The recording captures introductory comments, followed by the opening keynote address of renowned historian Dr. Karen Flynn, Associate Professor in the Departments of Gender and Women’s Studies and African-American Studies Program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She highlights key arguments from her book "Moving Beyond Borders: A History of Black Canadian and Caribbean Women in the Diaspora." In her analysis, she puts into context the complex, racialized experiences these nurses' lived through in their careers, as well as the systematic racism shaping the health care system of which they were part. In a second presentation, Ismalia De Sousa, a doctoral student at UBC-V School of Nursing, presents initial findings of her project on the history of Black nurses and midwives in BC in the late 19th and early 20th century; she offers new perspectives on Black nurses’ visibility in BC communities, the context of their work and the way they negotiated their identities and caring work as women, midwives and nurses. A concluding commentary was offered by Dr. Dzifa Dordunoo, an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Victoria, emphasizing the importance of history as a way to understand and make visible ongoing systemic racism in nursing and health care. In closing, Dr. Lydia Wytenbroek and Ismalia De Sousa thanked the panel for their contributions.

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