Two nuns honoured with Order of Canada

  • January 11, 2008

{mosimage}OTTAWA - Two Catholic nuns have been named Members of the Order of Canada in recognition of their contribution to Canadian health care.

On Dec. 28, Governor General Michaëlle Jean named Sr. Margaret Smith of the Sisters of St. Joseph and Sr. Margaret Vickers of the Sisters of Charity among 61 new appointments to the Order of Canada.

Smith grew up in Woodlawn, Ont., and became a registered nurse before entering the Community of the Sisters of St. Joseph in North Bay in 1944. Before her 1992 retirement, she served as a nursing school director and executive director of several hospitals. In North Bay, the Sr. Margaret Smith Centre, a drug and alcohol abuse facility, is named after her. She has advocated a holistic approach to substance abuse treatment and the maintaining of 12-step support groups.

Vickers comes from the Miramichi region in New Brunswick. Before entering the Sisters of Charity, she obtained her nursing degree in Antigonish, N.S., and worked as a nurse in New Brunswick, Ontario, Michigan and California.

After joining the religious order in 1955, Vickers earned a nursing degree and health administration masters in Ottawa. She served as the administrator of three hospitals formerly operated by the order. From 1972-94, she was administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Saint John, N.B. Her work has also taken her to serve at hospitals in Vancouver and Prince Albert, Sask. She helped found the New Brunswick Catholic Health Association and Saint John Hospice. She has also served in leadership for her religious community. Since 1997, she has been serving on the board of Providence Health Care and Society in Vancouver.

The sixth of 13 children, Vickers has two siblings, Charlotte and Alice, who also joined the Sisters of Charity. Last May, the Catholic Health Association of Canada (CHAC) awarded Margaret and Charlotte Vickers performance citation awards, the highest distinction in Catholic health care.

The Governor General also named the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,  Louise Arbour, a former justice on Canada’s Supreme Court, as a Companion of the Order of Canada for her work in human rights.

Among those with the second highest honour, that of Officer, are former member of Parliament Deborah Grey and governor of the Bank of Canada David Dodge, both for their public service. Amnesty International Canada general secretary Alex Neve was named an officer for his work promoting human rights.

The date for the investiture ceremony has not been set.

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