Sept. 12, 2023

UCalgary Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture Reaches 10th year

2023 Alumni All-Access event headlined by Debbie Smith, BN'94
2023 Alumni All-Access event headlined by Debbie Smith, BN'94

From a modest event back in 2014 with 100 alumni, students, faculty, staff, family and friends, to the hybrid and virtual events of 2020 and 2021, and now back to an in-person gathering, the Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture  has continued to be a highlight event for all University of Calgary Nursing alumni.

Numerous distinguished Nursing alumni have taken to the stage over the years, speaking on a variety of topics ranging from the early years of the faculty, to rural and global health, to mental health support for health-care professionals.

Links: Registration | Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Lecture  | Alumni All Access

Professor Emerita Marguerite Schumacher was integral in shaping baccalaureate nursing education, not just at UCalgary, but throughout Alberta. She came to the university in 1974 as the third director of what was then known as the School of Nursing and, when the school officially became a faculty in 1975, Schumacher became its first dean.

When she died in 2013, Schumacher left a bequest in her will to establish an event for Nursing alumni.

“Our team at the time thought that one of the best ways [to honour her] was to establish a speaker series for notable alumni,” says Karen Cook, MA’84, senior communications manager with the Faculty of Nursing. “We used the tagline: ‘Celebrating inspirational alumni nursing leaders.’”

Inaugural Event in 2014

The Inaugural Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture in 2014, Dr. Faith Nixdorff, BN'74, MD (with a re-reading of her convocation address from 1974) speaker Jo-Ann Hnatiuk, MN’01 and former Dean Dianne Tapp RN, MN'93, PhD'97.

Jae Im

That inaugural event in 2014 also marked the 40th anniversary of the graduation of UCalgary’s first Bachelor of Nursing cohort. The first speaker was Master of Nursing graduate Jo-Ann Hnatiuk, MN’01. After a few years as an emergency department nurse in Calgary, as well as working for STARS air ambulance, she continued her career with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). In 2005, Hnatiuk was deployed to Afghanistan as a critical-care nursing officer, serving in the intensive care unit and emergency room, and providing clinical education, on-air transport and paediatrics. In 2007, Hnatiuk was redeployed as an air-medevac nurse with the Task Force Afghanistan Corsair Medevac Unit in order to increase the U.S. Blackhawks’ medevac support. 

“I was very honoured to speak at this event. I am very proud of being a member of the CAF [and] I was grateful that I was given an opportunity to share my passion,” she says. “To see fellow graduates and faculty in the audience, to present for the first time in front of my husband and my parents was very rewarding.”

Hnatiuk says it was a valuable opportunity to give her nursing colleagues a very strong and honest accounting of her time in the CAF.

“Well, I am pretty sure it was a bit more graphic than most,” she says. “I shared the personal and collective experiences of what it was like to nurse in a combat zone. The content was both exciting and humbling at times because I shared my personal experiences and feelings on how lucky we are to live in Canada and have the freedoms that we are accustomed.”

Now a lieutenant-commander with the CAF, Hnatiuk remains as a reserve nurse specialist advisor, and is also the provincial lead for clinical initiatives and programs for Trauma Services BC. 

“I really enjoyed being a part of this vibrant university,” Hnatiuk recalls of her time in UCalgary Nursing. “This program really changed how I viewed my future career in nursing. Having the opportunity to be part of [the] program was instrumental and opened up so many opportunities for me. I really appreciate the support I received from my faculty and have always been grateful of this experience.”

Debbie Smith, BN'94 Headshot

Debbie Smith, BN'94, will be the special guest speaker for the 10th Annual Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture takes place on Saturday, October 14,

This year’s 10th-anniversary lecture takes place as part of Alumni All-Access, featuring another extraordinary speaker. Debbie Smith, BN'94, Siksika First Nation member and co-ordinator of Iiyikinaami -Spirit Helper. She will share her personal journey into Canada’s Indigenous health-care traditions and practices. 

Her lecture, “Nurturing our roots toward health and healing: the story of Iiyikinaami (Spirit Helper),” will introduce her story as a Blackfoot woman with a 30-year career in First Nations health. She will share the importance of family, relationships, the community and her relationship with the land. She will also speak about Iiyikinaami — the fusing of Indigenous and Western ways that will move health care forward for us all.

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of a very important event that showcases many great and inspiring legacies and journeys that our graduates have been a part of in their contributions to their communities,” says Smith. “I am very honoured to have been asked to speak on the Iiyikinaami – Spirit Helper program here at Old Sun Community College (OSCC).

“A very unique component of Iiyikinaami –  Spirit Helper is the incorporation of our indigenous knowledge — the traditions, values, beliefs — which speaks to the very essence of who we are as Indigenous people, and it is with this that I am honoured that I am able to share the work that UCalgary and OSCC have been doing to make this a reality for our students.”

The Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture takes place on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Grey Eagle Casino. All guests are asked to register for this free Alumni All Access Event.

List of past speakers and panelists for the Marguerite Schumacher Memorial Alumni Lecture:
2014: Jo-Ann Hnatiuk, RN, MN'01
2015: Bonnie Johnston, RN, BN’75
2016: Lorna Estabrooks, RN, MN’97
2017: Barb Shellian, RN, BN’79, MN’83
2018: Dianne Tapp, RN, MN'93, PhD'97     
2019: Multiple Alumni, "50 years of Nursing Excellence"
Dianne Dyer, BN'76, MN'93
Pam Nordstrom, BN'83
Shannon Spenceley, MN'93
Derek Luk, BN'07
Suzanna Crawford, BSc'11, BN'13, MN’20
2020: Dr. Claire Betker, MN'91, PhD
2021: Virtual Panel, "Bringing Global Health Home"
Arsheen Dhalla, BN’10
Masira Baloch, BN’10
Jacqueline Wilson, BN'18
Dr. Heather Bensler, BN’97, EdD’22
2022: Dr. Shane Sinclair, PhD'09
2023: Debbie Smith, BN'94