Historian to examine the experiences of Canada’s first Black nurses

Until the mid-1940s, Black women were prohibited from training as nurses in Canada. The first cohort of Black registered nurses integrated Canadian nursing schools in the early 1950s.

UWindsor history grad Karen Flynn (BA 1993, MA 1995) will use oral narratives of Canadian and Caribbean women to examine the experiences of Black nurses in Windsor and Chatham hospitals in her free public lecture “Beyond the Glass Wall: Black Canadian Nurses 1940-1970,” Tuesday, February 14, at 4 p.m. in room 203, Toldo Health Education Centre.

Dr. Flynn is an assistant professor in women and gender studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She says that despite entering an occupation that defined itself around a Victorian ideal of “true womanhood” that excluded Black women, these nurses were able to negotiate and secure a place in the profession.

“Their capacity to cope with their contradictory positions as Black nurses was forged in childhood, then shaped and reshaped by professional training and their roles as wives, mothers, single women and community activists,” she says.

Flynn’s talk is based on her newly published book, Moving Beyond Borders: A History of Black Canadian and Caribbean Women in the Diaspora, which is the subject of a formal launch and reception at 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 14, at downtown Windsor’s All Saints’ Church, 330 City Hall Square West.