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Wednesday, October 31st 2018 - Women's History Month Statement

Women’s History Month

Hon. Rose-May Poirier: Honourable senators, as we are nearing the end of October and this being the Women’s History Month in Canada, I thought it would be an appropriate occasion to share with you a story from the field of medical research of a prominent woman from New Brunswick.

Born in Jackson, New Brunswick in 1909, Gladys Enid Johnson MacLeod was educated at Dalhousie University and graduated as a medical doctor in 1937. She was encouraged to pursue her studies and went on to become a anesthetist. Together with her mentor Harold Griffith, they pioneered the use of a substance called curare, a poison extract from the South African vine as a muscle relaxant which was first used in the support of an appendectomy operation in 1942.

After her marriage to lawyer Innis Gordon MacLeod in 1942, she practised in Sydney, Nova Scotia, for six years and went on to join the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine in 1960. She retired in 1978 an emeritus professor and retained her honorary ranks at the university until her death in 2001.

Her legacy also includes the yearly Enid Johnson MacLeod Award given by the Federation of Medical Women in Canada, whereas it recognizes any category of FMWC members involved in the promotion of women’s health, research and/or women’s health education.

Like the theme for this year’s Women’s History Month in Canada, Make an Impact, Dr. Enid Johnson MacLeod’s impact is still felt today. For all of us who ever had to undergo an operation, I’m sure we are grateful for her research, discovery, and pioneer work in the medical profession.

Honourable senators, as we near the end of the Women’s History Month in Canada, where we recognize different women pioneers in various fields, where through their dedication, tenacity and determination they not only changed their respective fields but changed our society for future generations. I salute not only the women who changed our society like Dr. Enid Johnson MacLeod, but to all women who might not get the bigger recognition — those who make and made a difference in their province and their community.

Thank you, senators.

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