Skip navigation

Saturday November 17, 2012

MUSSALLEM, Dr. Helen Kathleen
97, died peacefully in Ottawa on Friday, November 9, 2012. Born and raised in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, she was the beloved daughter of the late Solomon and Annie Mussallem. Predeceased by her brothers and sisters, George, Nicholas, Mary, Peter, and Lily. Fondly remembered by her nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends.
Helen became one of the most compelling and influential figures in Canada's nursing history, and she is the country's most decorated nurse. Throughout World War II she was in active service overseas as a Lieutenant (Nursing Officer) Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.
Helen graduated from the Vancouver General Hospital School of Nursing and, after studies in administration at the University of Washington, returned to Vancouver General (VGH) for 10 years. Helen obtained a baccalaureate in nursing from McGill University and then, a master's degree in education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She was the first Canadian to receive the R. Louise McManus Medal from Teachers and went on at Columbia to become the first Canadian to obtain master's and Ph.D. degrees in nursing.
Over the years Helen received seven honorary doctorates and many other awards, including the nation's highest honour, the Companion ofto the Order of Canada. The International Red Cross also bestowed on her its most prestigious award, the Florence Nightingale Medal. Helen was an inspiration to many generations of nurses. As founder of the Canadian Nurses Foundation (CNF), she devoted much of her time and energy to nursing education and research. Through CNF's Helen K. Mussallem fellowship, she has made it possible for nurses to pursue their master's studies.
Helen was a remarkable nurse leader who contributed tremendously to the nursing profession and to the lives of those around her. She joined the Canadian Nurses Association in 1957 and was the executive director from 1963 to 1981. For details on Helen's life, visit her website at
Memorial contributions may be made to the Canadian Nurses Foundation, 50 Driveway, Ottawa, ON, K2P 1E2

Back to top