In the context of International Women’s Day, allow us to introduce Sister Virginie Allaire, s.g.m. Born in 1882 in the United States, she entered the Grey Nuns of Montreal in 1904 and pronounced her final vows in 1911. After a short stay at the Nazareth Institute in Montreal, she worked for several hospitals in New Jersey and New Hampshire. In 1917, she was appointed local superior of the Regina Hospital in Saskatchewan.
In the early 1920s, she became provincial superior in St. Boniface, Manitoba. At the General Chapter of the Congregation in 1925, she was elected General Bursar and in 1930, 2nd Assistant to the Superior General and Director of the Hospitals under the Congregation.
In 1934, advocating better training for nurses, she founded the Institut Marguerite-d’Youville, the first French-speaking school in North America to offer a high-level professional training program leading to a bachelor’s degree or a certificate in nursing. IMY affiliated the following year with the University of Montreal and Sister Allaire served as its director until 1947.
In 1936, she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Montreal and in 1940, the Cross of Service from the Catholic Hospital Association of the U.S. and Canada. She was also the first Canadian nun to receive an honorary Fellowship in 1947 from the American College of Healthcare Executives. She also received an honorary degree in 1960 from the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA-AIIC) and the Order of Canada in 1968 on the Centennial of the Confederation. Sister Allaire died the following year in Montreal, leaving behind a rich legacy to nursing in North America.