Cree Health Board nurse wins top Quebec nursing award

April 02, 2012

Ghislaine Télémaque is one of eight recipients of the 2012 Florence Prize, recognizing her extraordinary contribution to the nursing profession. Ms Télémaque won the prize for the category Rayonnement international.

The prize is awarded by the Ordre des infirmières et des infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ), the professional order that represents the more than 70,000 nurses in the province of Quebec.

Télémaque is well known to many Cree Health Board employees, as she has practiced nursing in Eeyou Istchee since 1992. But Télémaque has two other identities: she’s a nurse on board Coast Guard ships in the high arctic, and she serves on medical teams deployed to war zones and disaster areas around the world.

As a crew member on board a Canadian Coast Guard ship, the Henry Larsen, docked in Resolute Bay, NWT, Ghislaine was one of the first responders on the scene of the First Air crash that killed 12 people in August 2011. "Thanks to the herculean efforts of first responders, lives were saved that otherwise might have been lost" said Prime Minister Harper about this event.

With humanitarian organizations including Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Enfants du Monde, Médecins du Monde, and Oxfam Québec, Ghislaine Télémaque has brought medical care to crisis areas in many countries including Haiti, Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo and Dominican Republic.

The Prize came as a complete surprise to Ghislaine, who did not even know she was nominated for the prize until she got the call from OIIQ telling her she had won. “It makes me feel appreciated,” she said, “it’s a great honour.”

“In the most remote, the most difficult conditions... that is where I see myself.” This was the case in Chad, where Ghislaine was part of a team providing medical services in the middle of a civil war. Ghislaine has faced danger and deprivation herself in order to bring medical help to people in need.

Ghislaine Télémaque knew from a young age that she wanted to experience different cultures and see the world. Even as a child she felt that no matter where people lived, they deserved to have access to care. This belief is what still motivates her. As a nurse in the most extreme and remote places on the planet, she has literally saved lives. “It’s a great adventure. I can go anywhere.”

Ghislaine Télémaque will receive the Prix Florence for the category “Rayonnement international” at a gala in Montreal on May 2. Her colleagues from the CBHSSJB, the Canadian Coast Guard, Médecins Sans Frontières, Medecins du Monde, and Oxfam Québec will be there to congratulate her.

Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec: Prix Florence 2012

Photo: M. La Haie copyright OIIQ 2012.