Barney Hickey earned a diploma in nursing from the General Hospital School of Nursing in St. John’s, Nfld in 1982. He immediately moved west, taking up staff nurse positions on a psychogeriatric unit at Rosehaven Hospital in Camrose Alberta, an acute medicine unit at Mission Memorial Hospital in Mission, BC, the float pool and later the short stay psychiatric unit at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. In 1988, he took on a head nurse position at the Regional Psychiatric Centre of the Correctional Service of Canada in Abbotsford. After doing a one year position as registration officer at the Registered Nurses Association of BC in 1990-91, he went on to become patient care manager in psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital. In 1996, he completed his post-RN BSN degree at the University of Victoria, and in 1998 began to work with the Dr. Peter AIDS Center as one of the first RNs in BC to implement the needle exchange program working within a Health Canada exemption as a safe injection site. In 2002, he completed his MSN at UBC School of Nursing, writing a major essay on “HIV/AIDS psychosocial issues: implications for nursing practice and leadership in Canada.” From 2005 to the present, he specialized in nursing education in a faculty position at Langara College. Along the way, he also gained National Certification from the Canadian Nurses Association in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing.
Barney received many acknowledgements (professional and otherwise) in his life. Among those he was most proud of were the Award of Excellence from the Canadian Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (2001) for “exceptional contributions to the development of HIV/AIDS nursing care in Canada,” and the Award of Excellence for Nursing Practice (2002) from the Registered Nurses Association of BC. He was also quite delighted to have been named by the gay men’s community “Mr. Vancouver Leather” in 2003.
During the last several months of his life, Barney was on medical leave, dealing with various health issues that eventually progressed to include the lung cancer from which he was unable to recover. On June 30, 2012, he married his partner of 19 years, Jan Meyers. On July 9, 2012, he died peacefully at home at the age of 52. As per his request, his ashes were scattered over English Bay.