Margaret Anne Waligora, a former York University clinical course director and practicum coordinator in the School of Nursing at the Faculty of Health, died peacefully in her home in Ilderton, Ont. on March 7 at the age of 72.
Waligora accomplished much in her time as a nurse, pastor, teacher, sponsor and entrepreneur. She was the founder of the Cedarbrook Society, a live-in respite centre located in Milton, Ont., and Special Care People, a community-based respite organization for families of children with complex medical conditions. Waligora was also involved in the founding of the Canadian Association of Paediatric Nurses and was an advocate for the rights and dignity of children from birth to 21 years old.
“Her work as a clinical educator in community health nursing at York University brought kindness and compassion for her students to a whole new level. So many times, I’d see her lugging something from her home that she was bringing in to serve as a metaphor as she strove to teach her students to connect on a soul-level with their patients and their communities. She wanted every one of her students to know what a ‘touchstone’ moment was, and to see this as one of the many gifts afforded through community health nursing” remembers Cheryl L van Daalen-Smith, her 30-year colleague and associate professor at the School of Nursing. “She served as a role model to other clinical teachers, gently and lovingly. As a practicum coordinator within York’s School of Nursing, she led York’s quest to attain all kinds of innovative community placements for nursing students, driving to each of them with her dog Jackie, one at a time, in order to build relationships with them on behalf of the School of Nursing.”
Waligora was no stranger to supporting those she cared about and making a difference at York, at home and in the communities she represented. From Waligora’s dedication to her family and nursing to serving the unheard, devalued or dismissed, her advocacy work continued long after she retired from the University and obtained a Master of Divinity from McMaster University. Her work included promoting the rights of the incarcerated to have access to hospice care.
Among the many lives she was of service to, Waligora will be remembered as a beloved mother of Tammy Kerwin (Mark Mino), Sharrie Wing (Andy), Lynne Bowes (Frank), Andrew Waligora (Ruth) and Jason Waligora. A loving grandmother to Chrystal, Michael (Eryn) and Bella; Kyle and Sarah (Joel); Alexander; Zen, and PJ; and Dominick and great grandmother to Chloe and Nora. Waligora is a dear sister to Maureen Robertson (Keith) and Doris Howell (Jim) and will be missed by many nieces, nephews and cousins. She is predeceased by grandson Johnathon Kell, parents Anne Praties (Peter) and Edward Goodsell (Gladys), and husband Zen Waligora.
A funeral service took place at Haskett Funeral Home on March 12. Donations can be made in Waligora’s memory to the Darling Home for Kids, or the Amnesty International Canada. Condolences may be forwarded here.