Cathy Crowe





Street Nurse Cathy Crowe Receives Honourary Doctorate

Toronto -   June 9, 2005


Cathy Crowe, a street nurse and pioneer in the field of care for homeless populations, has been called a leader, innovator, advocate, health professional and an inspiration. Today, McMaster University in Hamilton added another title, by awarding her an honourary Doctor of Laws degree. Ms Crowe received the tribute during a convocation that granted degrees to 259 nurses from the McMaster-Mohawk-Conestoga Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. 


Dr. Catherine Tompkins, Associate Dean of the School of Nursing said that Ms Crowe "has had a remarkable influence on nursing in Canada and has brought attention to the extent of homelessness and the poor health conditions associated with it to the Canadian public."  "As a role model to our graduates, Cathy has shown how it is possible to combine a professional career in health with a powerful and eloquent voice as a social advocate for those who are most disenfranchised by society," Tompkins said.


Ms Crowe has been a street nurse in Toronto and a pioneer in the field of care for homeless populations since 1988. She began as one of four or five street nurses in Canada. There are more than 100 now. That dramatic increase shows, encouragingly, the power of the street health service movement Ms Crowe helped spark, but conversely, it reveals the discouraging extent of homelessness in Canada . In January 2004, Ms Crowe was awarded the Atkinson Charitable Foundation's Economic Justice Award and is now based at the Sherbourne Health Centre where she is advocating for a national housing program.


Addressing the nursing program graduates, Ms Crowe shared a definition that she believes to be the best description of nursing:  "Nursing is attending to meaning.  Does that mean nursing is about the meaning of life? Well no, but it is about the meaning of living," she said.  "Attending to meaning is about attending to the individual, attending to the family and attending to the community that you are nursing."


In a passionate and moving speech, Ms Crowe paid tribute to a number of nurses whose actions have courageously demonstrated a commitment to the idea that nursing is attending to meaning. She concluded with these words: "Be proud that you are a nurse. You can walk into a room, a family home, a homeless shelter, a community meeting and say 'I'm a nurse. What can I do to help you?' - which really means 'what do you need, how can I support you and fight for what you need?'  And you can, and you will make a real difference in this world."


A full text of the speech is hereFor further information, please contact: 


  Cathy Crowe


  Denny Young

  Director, Communications & Fundraising



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