CROWE, Cathy

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Chancellor:

Cathy Crowe believes that small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. It is this type of thinking that has motivated her to work tirelessly as a street nurse, serving the basic health needs of the homeless. A passionate and committed advocate for the rights of the homeless, she has been instrumental in generating awareness of the issue and lobbying government to act. 

Born in Cobourg, Ontario, Cathy Crowe and her family moved to Kingston in the 1960s and she attended high school there. She later moved to Toronto, where she received her nursing diploma from Toronto General Hospital, a bachelor of applied arts in nursing from Ryerson, and a master of education (sociology) from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. It was impossible to know at the time that this education was preparing Cathy Crowe for a career of helping and serving others in an exceptional way.

Cathy Crowe fait ses premiers pas dans la profession infirmière au centre-ville de Toronto, en cardiologie, en santé publique et en santé communautaire. C’est le nombre croissant de sans-abri au cœur de Toronto qui va faire bifurquer sa carrière dans une direction pour le moins imprévue qui l’amène au rôle d’infirmière de rue. Les soins infirmiers dans la rue, c’est répondre aux besoins de santé primaires de patients laissés pour compte qui vivent dans la rue.

Infirmière de la rue depuis bientôt vingt ans, Cathy Crowe suit attentivement le pouls des problématiques de santé liées à l'itinérance. Elle s’est fait la championne de causes telles que les contraintes d'accès aux soins de santé, la détérioration globale de la santé, le retour en force de la tuberculose, les conditions déplorables des refuges pour itinérants, la menace du SRAS et le taux de décès démesuré.  

Along with her remarkable colleagues, activists for the homeless, and friends, Cathy Crowe is committed to reintroducing the issue of housing to the public agenda. Together, they have led a movement dedicated to generating awareness of the issue of homelessness through the establishment of numerous advocacy initiatives and organizations, including Nurses for Social Responsibility, the Toronto Coalition Against Homelessness, and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC).

The TDRC, co-founded by Cathy Crowe in 1998, publicly declared homelessness a national disaster. The committee developed a three-level disaster campaign targeting federal, provincial and municipal solutions to the homeless disaster and housing crisis. The TDRC encourages two principal approaches: the redirection of emergency disaster relief funds from the federal government to the municipalities, and the return of one per cent of federal and provincial funding towards a national affordable housing program.

Le dévouement de Cathy Crowe à la cause de l'itinérance au Canada a inspiré la productrice et lauréate de prix Emmy et Gemini Shelley Saywell à réaliser le documentaire Street Nurse dépeignant son travail d’infirmière de rue. On a pu voir ce film sur la chaîne Women's channel à l’automne 2002.

Son engagement profond envers les sans-abri et l'itinérance ont valu à Madame Crowe de nombreux hommages, entre autres le prix international de déontologie des sciences infirmières, à Amsterdam en 2003, et, en 2004, le Atkinson Charitable Foundation Economic Justice Award, prix de justice économique de la fondation caritative Atkinson.

Chancellor, it is for these reasons that, in the name of the Senate of the University of Ottawa, I present to you, for the degree of Doctor of the University, Cathy Crowe, a woman whose unrelenting devotion to improving the lives of the marginalized serves as an inspiration to all of us.

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