Professor to honour Canadian wartime nurses

Remembrance Day wreaths

Andrea McKenzie, associate professor and Chair of the Writing Department in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies at York University, has been asked by the Western Front Association (WFA) to place a wreath in honour of Canadian nurses at the Cenotaph in London, England, in Nov. 11 ceremonies honouring veterans of the First World War.

Andrea McKenzie
Andrea McKenzie

The Cenotaph is a war memorial unveiled in 1920 as the United Kingdom’s national memorial to the dead of Britain and the British Empire of the First World War. In 1946 it was designated to include the fallen from the Second World War. The memorial has become a central location for the annual services organized on Remembrance Sunday – the U.K. equivalent of Canada’s Remembrance Day – where crowds gather to observe two minutes of silence, and wreaths are laid by distinguished representatives to honour the fallen.

The invitation to place a wreath honouring the role of Canadian nurses during the First World War is, in part, a recognition of McKenzie’s ongoing work and expertise around the subject. In the past, McKenzie has provided articles and presentations to the WFA – both in person and virtually – on the sometimes little known or unrecognized role Canadian nurses played in the conflict. It was a 2018 event at the National Army Museum in London that first drew WFA organizer’s attention to McKenzie’s work, and led now to the invitation to place a wreath in this year’s Remembrance Sunday’s ceremony.

Following the ceremony and the laying of her wreath, McKenzie will read a poem to dignitaries at the Guards’ Chapel in Westminster as part of a service to commemorate veterans who served during the First World War, those who were lost in the war and those who mourned them.

McKenzie’s ongoing work has also included numerous publications and lectures about Canadian nurses’ experiences during the First World War in Canada and Europe. She is also the author and editor of War-Torn Exchanges: The Lives and Letters of Nursing Sisters Laura Holland and Mildred Forbes (UBC Press, 2016), a book of letters written by Canadian nurses during the First World War.