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Article

Oronhyatekha

Oronhyatekha (pronounced O-RON-ya-day-ga, meaning "Burning Sky" or “Burning Cloud”), also known as Peter Martin, a Kanyen'kehà:ka (Mohawk) medical doctor and businessman (born 10 August 1841 on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve near Brantford, Canada West [now Ontario]; died 3 March 1907 in Savannah, Georgia, US). In 1867, Oronhyatekha became the second Indigenous person in Canada to earn a medical degree. Passionate about Indigenous issues, he was elected to the Grand General Indian Council of Ontario and Quebec in 1872, where he fought against the restrictive measures of the Indian Act. Oronhyatekha was also a businessman and, in 1881, headed the Independent Order of Foresters.

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Charles Lightfoot Roman

Charles Lightfoot Roman, MD, CM, surgeon, author, researcher, lecturer (born 19 May 1889 in Port Elgin, ON; died 8 June 1961 in Valleyfield, QC). Charles Lightfoot Roman was one of the first Black Canadians to graduate from McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and became a recognized expert in industrial medicine. He was also one of the first Black Canadians to enlist for service in the First World War, and was the only known Black person to serve with the Canadian General Hospital No. 3 (McGill). Lightfoot Roman was also likely the first Black Grand Master of a traditional Masonic lodge.

Article

Jean Cuthand Goodwill

Jean Cuthand Goodwill, OC, nurse, public servant and Indigenous health and education advocate (born 14 August 1928 on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, SK; died 25 August 1997 in Regina, SK). Cuthand Goodwill was one of the first Indigenous registered nurses in Canada. In 1974, she cofounded Indian and Inuit Nurses of Canada (now known as the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association). She was a lifelong organizer, writer and educator who promoted First Nations health and culture.

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Frances Oldham Kelsey

​Frances Oldham Kelsey, CM, pharmacologist (born 24 July 1914 in Cobble Hill, BC; died 7 August 2015 in London, ON). As an employee of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Kelsey blocked the sale of thalidomide in the United States. The drug, which had been widely prescribed in Europe and Canada, was later shown to cause severe birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug while pregnant. In recognition of her “exceptional judgment” and determination, Kelsey received the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. Kelsey and her work have been widely lauded in the United States but are less known in Canada. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada shortly before her death.

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Onye Nnorom

Onyenyechukwu (Onye) Nnorom, family physician, specialist in public health and preventive medicine (born 27 February 1981 in Montreal, Quebec). Nnorom is the associate director of the residency program in public health and preventive medicine at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She also leads the Black health curriculum at the university’s medical school. Her work addresses the health inequities that racialized and immigrant communities face.

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Dominique Gaspard

Dominique François Gaspard, physician and community builder (born 22 December 1884 in New Orleans, Louisiana; died 6 February 1938 in Montreal, QC). Gaspard was a respected doctor and a trailblazer in Montreal’s Black district. After serving with distinction at a field hospital during the First World War, he devoted himself to medical practice in Montreal. He also worked to create social and intellectual outlets for Black men in the city. A bilingual Catholic, he was unique in the city’s early-20th-century anglophone  Protestant Black community. His story speaks of a complexity of language, ethnicity and migration not often explored in narratives of Quebec’s English-speaking and Black communities.

Article

Edith Monture

Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture (often known simply as Edith Monture), Mohawk First World War veteran, registered nurse, (born 10 April 1890 on Six Nations reserve near Brantford, ON; died 3 April 1996 in Ohsweken, ON). Edith was the first Indigenous woman to become a registered nurse in Canada and to gain the right to vote in a Canadian federal election. She was also the first Indigenous woman from Canada to serve in the United States military. Edith broke barriers for Indigenous women in the armed forces and with regards to federal voting rights. A street (Edith Monture Avenue) and park (Edith Monture Park) are named after her in Brantford, Ontario.

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Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie

Elizabeth Lawrie Smellie, nurse (born 22 March 1884 in Port Arthur, ON; died 5 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). Elizabeth (Beth) Smellie wrote that she had been “occasionally addressed as Colonel, Doctor, Matron, Sister, or Miss Smellie” — each title revealing different aspects of her life and career. She served as a nursing sister during the First World War, rose through the ranks as a matron and then assistant to the matron-in-chief of the postwar army nursing service. She left the military to take public health courses, teach at the McGill University School for Graduate Nurses, and work for the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON) before becoming the VON’s chief superintendent. The Canadian Army asked Smellie to return as matron-in-chief of its nursing service for the Second World War, as well as organizer of a new army division, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. (See also Nursing.)

Article

James Bertram Collip

James Bertram Collip (born 20 November 1892 in Belleville, Ontario; died 19 June 1965 in London, Ontario) plunged into endocrinological research and was one of the first to isolate the parathyroid hormone.

Article

Charles Best

Charles Herbert Best, physiologist, co-discoverer of insulin (b at West Pembroke, Maine 27 Feb 1899; d at Toronto 31 Mar 1978).

Article

Maude Abbott

Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott, cardiac pathologist, physician, curator (born 18 March 1868 in St. Andrews East, QC; died 2 September 1940 in Montreal, QC). Maude Abbott is known as the author of The Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease (1936), a groundbreaking text in cardiac research. Though Abbott graduated in arts from McGill University (1890), she was barred from studying medicine at McGill because of her gender. Instead, she attended Bishop’s College (now Bishop’s University), earning a medical degree in 1894. As assistant curator of the McGill Medical Museum (1898), and curator (1901), she revolutionized the teaching of pathology by using the museum as an instructional tool. Abbott’s work paved the way for women in medicine and laid the foundation for modern heart surgery. (See also Women in STEM).

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Charles Victor Roman

Dr. Charles Victor Roman, surgeon, professor, author, editor, philosopher, civil rights activist (born 4 July 1864 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania; died 25 August 1934 in Nashville, Tennessee). Charles Roman was raised in DundasOntario, and was the first Black person to graduate from Hamilton Collegiate Institute in Hamilton, ON. After a tragic accident in his teenage years, he went on to establish himself as an internationally respected surgeon and educator; he also wrote and edited several books and periodicals and was frequently called upon as a keynote speaker. Roman used the Canada–US border as a gateway to opportunity both north and south of the line. He is an example of a true "African North American," one of many individuals of African descent who crossed and recrossed the border separating the two countries between 1850 and 1930.

Article

Jennie Trout

Jennie (Jenny) Kidd Trout, physician, teacher (born 21 April 1841 in Kelso, Scotland; died 10 November 1921 in Hollywood, California). Trout was the first female physician licensed to practice medicine in Canada. She received her licence from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario in 1875.

Article

Armand Frappier

Armand Frappier, CC, physician, microbiologist (born 26 November 1904 in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, QC; died 17 December 1991 in Montréal, QC). Armand Frappier was a key figure in the fight against tuberculosis in Canada; he both produced the BCG (bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine and advocated widespread vaccinations across the country. As founder and director of the Institut de microbiologie et d'hygiène de Montréal, he advanced medical research into infectious diseases and played an important role in the development of public health. (See also INRS-Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie Research Centre.) He and his team produced a number of vaccines and other biological products (e.g., the anti-polio Salk vaccine, penicillin) and were responsible for freeze-drying blood serum for the armed forces during the Second World War. (See also Canada and the Development of the Polio Vaccine).

Article

Helen Mussallem

Helen Kathleen Mussallem, CC, nursing educator, reformer and administrator (born 7 January 1915 in Prince Rupert, BC; died 9 November 2012 in Ottawa, ON). Mussallem started her career as a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital and was deployed overseas during the Second World War. She was instrumental in reforming nursing education in Canada and around the world. In her 18 years as the executive director of the Canadian Nurses Association, she helped transform nursing into a profession and promoted its role within Canada’s health care system.

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Henry Morgentaler

Henekh (Henry) Morgentaler, CM, abortion advocate, physician (born 19 March 1923 in Lodz, Poland; died 29 May 2013 in Toronto. Morgentaler spent much of his life advocating for women’s reproductive rights at a time when they could not legally obtain abortions.

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Norman Bethune

Henry Norman Bethune, surgeon, inventor, political activist (born 4 March 1890 in Gravenhurst, ON; died 12 November 1939 in Huang Shiko, China). Norman Bethune was an innovative thoracic surgeon who made significant contributions in the field, including the invention or redesign of surgical instruments. He was also an early advocate of universal health care in Canada. A member of the Communist Party, Bethune volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, where he pioneered the mobile blood transfusion unit. In 1938, he travelled to China, where he became a battlefield surgeon for Chinese Communist forces under Mao Zedong. Bethune’s commitment to the welfare of soldiers and civilians during the Sino-Japanese War made him a hero in the People's Republic of China.