Sheila Ryan and Eileen Ryan Awards

Sheila Mary Ryan and Eileen Brigid Ryan grew up in a large Irish family on a sheep station in the Australian outback, north of Sydney. They studied nursing, serving in the Pacific during World War Two, and were among the first group of nurses sent to Japan to assist former prisoners of war after the end of hostilities. 

By the 1950's, a desire to see the rest of the world had taken hold and they eventually settled in Alberta, working at the Ponoka Hospital in 1957. Their travels continued for the rest of their lives, with Alberta and B.C. serving as home base.

Education was a cornerstone for them and both undertook graduate studies, with Sheila moving into nursing administration while Eileen concentrated on child care and advocacy for national policy. Through their work and their studies, they established a wide and lifelong network of friends and colleagues.

As independent professionals and seasoned travelers, they opened doors for women in health care and shared an interest in other cultures, reflected in their support of artists in Canada and abroad. They were supportive of young people, and regarded creating educational opportunities for them as a way to pass on what they had learned.

Sheila died in 2011, followed by Eileen in 2019, and this award serves to further their work in nursing and community care.

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