New Award (2022/2023): MSN Student Kyra Philbert wins CAHN Scholarship & Public Humanities Seed Grant

Kyra Philbert (she/her) engaged with the qualitative, emergent methodology of a/r/tography to generate openings into the moral fabric of the Canadian Nurse. Based in her own embodied experiences as a brown-skinned queer ciswoman providing direct patient care, Kyra explored “what makes Blackness so surprising in Canadian Nursing?”. This query is an adaptation of Katherine McKittrick’s work on the surprise of Black Canada. Through Black feminist thought and the figure of resistance Marie-Joseph Angélique, Kyra revised history to complicate and unpack the underlying assumptions made about the virtue of nursing within Canada.

Kyra was the 2022 recipient of the Margaret Allemang Scholarship for the History of Nursing Award (Canadian Association of the History of Nursing). In addition, Kyra received a Public Humanities seed grant from University of British Columbia to present the artistic component of her scholarship to a public audience. This presentation happened during National Nursing Week 2023.

Learn more about Nurse Angélique on Kyra’s website: https://kyraphilbert.ca/2022/05/08/nurse-angelique/



History Drop In: Come Pitch an Idea!

History Office Hour Drop In: May 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Are you interested in working on a (small!) history project that you can add to your resume/CV? Stop by Lydia Wytenbroek’s office (T237) on May 8 from 10-1 with ideas (or just come come and chat :)). The possibilities are endless, but you are all more creative than me! Are you interested in exploring the history of a piece of medical technology? Changes in charting? The evolution of a nursing theory? The history of the UBC SON football team (!!)? Did you know UBC NUS once sued engineering? Do you want to find out why? Come chat about your idea!


South Asian Nurses Oral History Project (2023)

We are currently in the process of conducting interviews of South Asian nurses who worked in BC. We have a team of 6 interviewers. More news to come!


The purpose of this UBC Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry project is to explore the histories and experiences of retired South Asian nurses who practiced in BC prior to 2020. For much of the twentieth century, nursing histories written by nurses focused on the stories and experiences of white nursing leaders. When social historian Kathryn McPherson wrote her seminal book Bedside Matters (1996) on Canadian nursing history in the 1990s, she argued that whiteness was central to the definition of nursing professionalism in Canada. This led other scholars to employ the analytical categories of race, gender, and class in new analyses of nursing in Canada. In the 2000s, historians began to focus on the histories of Black and Indigenous nurses in Canada (Flynn, 2011; McCallum, 2014). Despite more recent attempts to tell the stories of Black and Brown nurses, there remains little work done on the history of South Asian nurses in Canada. This study will contribute to this gap in the literature by focusing on the stories of South Asian nurses who lived and worked in British Columbia from the early twentieth century to 2020. A key component of the project is to conduct oral history interviews with retired South Asian nurses who have practiced in BC


Nursing History Symposium 2022


November 8, 2022 at 9:30 am PT
at the Cecil Green Park House, UBC-V Campus

Public Health and Pandemic Caring in Context

($10 admission – lunch will be served) and online via Zoom (free)*

with Dr. Esyllt Jones, University of Manitoba

Pandemic Caring: public health nursing and community in the history of infectious disease

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic demonstrated the power of nursing in a disease crisis. At the time, and later in the eyes of historians, nursing interventions were valued because they alleviated suffering and meant an increased chance of survival when there few medical treatment options. Much of this nursing care was delivered outside of formal hospital settings, in locales that blurred the boundaries between institution, community, and home. In local neighbourhoods, public health nursing and private nursing organizations had for decades served those with virtually no access to health care, in places where infectious disease was a constant risk and a leading cause of mortality and disability. This form of nursing – in homes, at mission houses, for private agencies such as the VON – played a role historically that we barely recognize today, when the face of pandemic nursing is that of critical care.

Historical resonances nonetheless abound. Public health leaders are now calling for a return to community and neighbourhood-level engagement and health care investment, partly in response to pandemic inequality and vaccine access. This paper will draw from historical analyses of community-level nursing in the past, and suggest ways in which nursing might engage with those success and failures.

Dr. Esyllt W. Jones is a professor of history at the University of Manitoba. Her research interests include history of health, public health and pandemic history. She is the author of Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg, and co-editor of the recently published Medicare’s Histories: Origins, Omissions and Opportunities in Canada (2022).


9.30    Registration and refreshments
10.00  Opening Remarks –

Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc, Professor and Director

Dr. Geertje Boschma, Professor
Reflecting on the Legacy of Helen Shore

10.20    Keynote with Dr. Esyllt Jones | discussion
11.15    Break

11.45    Panel discussion with:
Dr. Susan Duncan, Professor, School of Nursing, University of Victoria
Dr. Sonya Grypma, Adjunct Professor, School of Nursing, UBC-V

Dr. Alison Phinney, Professor, School of Nursing, UBC-V
Dr. Mariko Sakamoto, Alzheimer Society of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow,

School of Social Work, UBC
12.45    Closing remarks

12.50    Lunch


The recording of the 2022 Nursing History Symposium is now available with its permanent link in the UBC Open Collection of the UBC Library:

Public Health and Pandemic Caring in Context Item URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/83409