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Memorable Manitobans: Helena Friesen Reimer (1905-1993)


Born in Steinbach in 1905, the eldest child of Abraham Reimer and Margaretha Friesen, sister to Ernest F. Reimer, she obtained the highest marks in Manitoba on the Department of Education Entrance Examinations. She taught school for some years then, in 1937, received her RN at the Winnipeg General Hospital. She held positions at the hospital as general nurse, instructor, supervisor, and assistant superintendent. She later worked with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration as matron of a large refugee camp in Egypt of women and children who fled from Europe during the Second World War.

From 1953 to 1956, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, she helped to organize a School of Nursing in affiliation with the University of Alexandria, in Egypt. She served as a nursing consultant in China, Taiwan and Cambodia before contracting a serious tropical disease. She returned to Canada in 1957 and accepted the position of Secretary Registrar of the Association of Nurses of the Province of Quebec, which she held until her retirement. She spent her retirement years in Winnipeg teaching English to refugees, working with the elderly, and taking University courses.

She received a Bachelor of Nursing from McGill University (1951), a RM (Admin) from the University of Chicago (1957), an honorary LLD from the University of Winnipeg (1974), the Order of Canada (1974), and the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977).

She died in Steinbach on 16 May 1993.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 19 May 1993, page C6.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 8 April 2013

Memorable Manitobans

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This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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