A Message for our 2020 Nursing Graduates

Good morning, or afternoon, graduates, family, friends and faculty members. For those who don’t know me, my name is Anita Gagnon and I am Associate Dean at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Director of the Ingram School of Nursing. This year is an important one for nursing locally, here at McGill and across the globe. For the Ingram School of Nursing, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of our School; Globally, the World Health Organization has declared 2020 to be the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in celebration of the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale.

It is my privilege to be here with you today as we celebrate the graduating Class of 2020.You have all worked incredibly hard, putting in countless hours, in class, in clinical and community settings, and by studying, at home, in libraries, and in cafes, to get to this point. On top of the two or more full-time years of work, in the last three months, you have had to ‘pivot on a dime’ to complete your courses remotely. You have had to forego completion of your academic requirements in countries and regions far from Montreal if you had been selected for the ambassador program, travels you may have planned to celebrate the end of this phase of your life and the start of a new phase, your graduation gala, and perhaps most importantly, saying goodbye to your ISoN friends including the faculty and staff.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed by your family nor by your friends and other members of the Ingram School of Nursing.While this virtual platform is not how you, nor any of us, imagined your graduation to be, this milestone deserves to be both recognized and celebrated by all of us – and not just once but twice, with an in-person graduation to be held in 2021.

I’d like to make mention of something that you may have heard of somewhere…COVID-19, an extra challenge to ISoN’s Centennial Year! This pandemic has put into perspective, for all of us, the things we often take for granted and it has taught us valuable lessons in strength, determination, imagination, and family. It has also highlighted the critical role nurses play in the health care system and in delivering quality care to our patients, families, and communities. To those of you who have been working in our health care system over these past months, I commend you for your dedication to completing your education while simultatenously serving your community.

Let me turn for a moment to Black Lives Matter, or BLM. The faculty and I are extremely proud of you as a bright, energetic group of individuals with the capacity for responding to this long-standing imperative that has been brought to the forefront of society once again. First, in your academic preparation in ISoN, you learned, both in theory and in practice, the Social Determinants of Health. Among these many health determinants are adequate income, quality education, stable and safe housing, availability of nutritious food, and unfortunately, a determinant that cannot be changed - the color of one’s skin. Why? Because, as studies show us time and again, access to the things I just listed worsens as the color of ones’ skin darkens.

Second, during your time with us in ISoN, not only did you attend theoretical, laboratory, and clinical classes, but you very publically acted on another important societal issue. You mobilized to have classes cancelled so that you could demonstrate together, as professional nurses-to-be, the need for climate change, truly owning the advocacy mandate of professional nurses!

I wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate the award winners of this year’s graduating class.

Catherine Farmer – Lexy L. Fellows Convocation Prize (BScN)

Alanna Bouffard - Evelyne Rocque Malowany Convocation Prize (BScN)

Hélène Fournier - Barbara Ann Altshulter Convocation Prize (BNI)

Jordan Lamadrid - Anne Marie Hum Fong Convocation Prize (BScN)

Louisa Mussells Pires – F. Moyra Allen Graduation Prize (MScA)

Christiana Turcotte - Pearson Education Book Prize (BScN)

Chloee Caron-Lavoie - Pearson Education Book Prize (BNI)

As you set out on your careers and your futures begin to take shape, remember all you have learned here at ISoN, your many strengths as indvidials and as a group and never, never forget the key role you do and will play in health care systems around the globe.

On behalf of the Ingram School of Nursing, I would like to congratulate each and every one of you on your graduation. I look forward to seeing the great heights you will reach; and hope that, as the years go by, you will continue to keep in touch with us and keep us abreast of your latest milestones.

I invite all your families, friends, and members of the ISoN community to join me in a virtual standing ovation for the Class of 2020. YOU DESERVE IT! CONGRATULATIONS!


- Dr. Anita Gagnon, Associate Dean at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Director of the Ingram School of Nursing

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