‘Health for all’ was Dawn’s enduring passion in nursing. Her work as a community health nurse in Canadian and international settings focused on community development and health promotion with vulnerable groups such as Aboriginal, displaced and immigrant populations. She practiced both hospital and community health nursing in several provinces across Canada, and in 1989 and 1990, she worked with displaced persons at the Thai/Burmese border. By 1995, Dawn had completed her Masters in 1995 at Dalhousie School of Nursing and ultimately obtained her PhD in Public Health from the University of Ottawa. Her doctoral research examined two Aboriginal organizations’ experiences improving care for pregnant and parenting Aboriginal people. She also completed a complementary study examining models for transferring knowledge to improve health policy and practice with Aboriginal communities. Much of that doctoral research fieldwork was done on Vancouver Island, where she temporarily relocated with her young family, and maintained her connections with UBC Nursing colleagues. Over these years, she also taught and mentored independent student projects in community health, influencing societal change, and nursing research with the Collaborative Nursing Program of B.C., and at Dalhousie.
In 2005, Dawn was appointed to an assistant professor position at the University of Ottawa, where she taught community health nursing in the undergraduate nursing program. She was principal investigator on a community-based research project to improve organizational and provider capacity to deliver safe and responsive maternal child health interventions in Aboriginal communities. She was also co-investigator on community health research projects focusing on fall prevention in Aboriginal communities, and developing a framework for international Aboriginal health indicators. At Universityof Ottawa, Dawn was appointed the first holder of the Loyer Da Silva Research Chair in Public Health Nursing and was promoted to the rank of associate professor.
Sadly, the life of this remarkable nurse and citizen of the world ended far too soon. Dawn died in December of 2012, and her obituary was posted in the Ottawa Citizen at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?pid=161721300