Montserrat nurse lauded for ‘body of work’


Though it is one of the world’s smallest countries, Montserrat has produced some outstanding individuals who have carved their niches in many parts of the world.

Alphonsus “The Mighty Arrow” Cassell, whose popular soca song, ‘Hot Hot’, sold over four million copies, and pop and disco group Boney M. vocalist, Maizie Williams, easily come to mind. In the Greater Toronto Area, there is educator Cecil Roach, superintendent of the York Region District School Board.

Then there is Mary Glavassevich. On Saturday, the vice-president of the Montserrat Association of Toronto (MAT) and a patient care manager at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre for the past 35 years, will be presented with the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing award for her important lifetime contributions and dedication to health care and the nursing profession.

“This is huge and we are so proud of the remarkable achievements of one of our own,” said MAT president, Claudia Davis Ewan, at the organization’s 34th annual fundraiser last Saturday night. “She has made her mark in the nursing profession in Canada and for that she should be celebrated.”

Glavassevich left Montserrat at age 19 to study nursing in England. She completed her registered nurse’s training in Blackburn, Lancashire and did her midwifery training in Scotland before coming to Canada to work as a staff nurse in Thunder Bay for a year. She joined Sunnybrook in 1968 as a staff nurse on a surgical unit and was appointed patient care manager in 1974.

In pursuit of higher education, Glavassevich completed her Bachelor’s at York University in 1990 and a Masters of Nursing at the University of Toronto five years later. She has also pursued several developmental courses, including the Schulich Advanced Leadership course and she has a clinical appointment at the U of T.

Glavassevich was presented with the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology Leadership award in 2005, and last year she was part of an award-winning team that did a qualitative exploration of the experiences of families caring for loved ones with advanced ovarian cancer.

She has also been involved in other research projects, made important presentations in Canada and overseas, revised the Bachelor of Arts curriculum at York University’s Atkinson College, fundraised to assist nurses from developing countries to attend a major cancer conference in Toronto last year and mentored many nurses and other medical staff.

“The selection committee was very impressed with your commitment to oncology nursing,” said Dean of the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, Siobah Nelson. “You are a role model for your peers, students, faculty and alumni in the difference you have made in health care. Your professional contributions and dedication are well respected and we are proud to present you with an award that recognizes excellence.”

Montserrat is still very close to Glavassevich’s heart even though she left the island nearly four decades ago. She has spearheaded fundraising campaigns for the Golden Years Home for the Aged, the purchase of a generator and to assist MAT children and other young family members pursuing post-high school studies at a Canadian college or university.”

“When you look at Mary’s body of work over the years, it’s quite phenomenal,” said Davis Ewan, who acknowledged her at last Saturday’s fundraiser. “We are so fortunate to have someone with such exceptional qualities. She’s definitely a role model for young Montserratians.”

The MAT also recognized co-captain of the national hockey team, Parnell Karl (P.K.) Subban, who helped Canada clinch the gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Ottawa last January. His Montserrat-born mother, Maria, is a member of the organization.

“Even though she has never held an official position with the group, she has been very involved over the years,” said Davis Ewan. “She has always supported us even though her sons play hockey and she has to be with them a lot.”

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Director-elect, Dr. Chris Spence, was the event’s guest speaker.

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