N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 17, 1984
Discipline / contribution: public service ; nursing education
Citation / biographical information:
Dr. Huguette Labelle was born in Rockland Ontario. She graduated from Ottawa General Hospital School of Nursing. Later she received a bachelors degree in Nursing from the University of Ottawa. She also completed a bachelors, masters and PhD degrees in Education from the University of Ottawa.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Dr. Labelle has worked as a clinical teacher, clinical coordinator and Associate Director of nursing education at the Ottawa General Hospital School of Nursing. She developed, and was the first director of the Vanier School of Nursing in Ottawa. This school was one of 8 regional nursing schools developed in Ontario in 1967 and were the forerunners to the transfer of all diploma nursing programs into institutions of general education. This school was also special in that it was planned as a bilingual institution. Dr. Labelle is fluent in both official languages.
From 1973-1976 Dr. Labelle was the Principal Nursing Officer of Canada, a position within the Department of Health and Welfare. In 1976 she was appointed to the position of Director of Research within the Department of Indian Affairs. She later (1979) became Assistant Deputy Minister (Corporate Affairs), in this same ministry.
In 1980 Dr. Labelle joined the Secretary of State Department as the Undersecretary of State. This is the position she currently holds. The Secretary of State is responsible for "citizenship" that is the granting of Canadian Citizenship and also assisting people to take part in community life through voluntary organizations, community service and travel and exchange activities. Some of its specific jobs include: administering programs to help Canadians maintain their own official language, helping women and native groups to improve their status and their equitable participation in society, helping Canada's ethnic minorities to participate more fully in the main stream of Canadian society while maintaining and preserving their own cultural heritage. There is also the Education Support Branch which provides funds to the provinces to help support post-secondary institutions across Canada. It also supports the Canadian Student Loan Program. These tasks comprises the fabric of the work with which Dr. Labelle is involved.
Dr. Labelle has been very active in professional and community affairs. She has worked on various committees of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario, chairing several of them. She has been a member of the board of the Canadian Nurses Association and was its President from 1974-76. In 1979 she was honored by the C.N.A. with an award for outstanding leadership in nursing. She has been a member of the advisory committee to Victorian Order of Nurses for Canada, and a member of the Priory Council, Order of St. John. Other contributions to community service have included President of the United Appeal Campaign of Ottawa, President of the Canadian Red Cross, member of the Board of the Canadian Safety Council, member of the Board of the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety, and chairman of the Board of Algonquin College. She has served as a consultant to governments in other countries in the field of health care planning and health science education.
Dr. Labelle is married and has two children - a daughter and son. She has been able to juggle the responsibilities of a family, of work and of completing most of her education degrees while working full-time. By working very long hours when others might be sleeping and by having a very supportive family circle she has excelled in these activities.
It has been said: "For women at the top to be effective they must be able to influence decision-making and mobilize resources, both human and material, in support of that influence." Dr. Labelle has demonstrated over many years, in positions as nurse educator, as nurse policy maker and consultant, an assistant deputy minister in the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and currently as Undersecretary of State - Department of the Secretary of State, that she was able to mobilize resources to influence decision making. Her record of achievements is admirable. We believe that she has been able to accomplish what she has because like many other successful women administrators she can be described as having a strong positive image of self. She is qualified, competent, confident, logical, efficient, cooperative, and responsive.
All those who have had the opportunity of knowing Huguette Labelle have learned something from her. We all have been inspired by her energy and her foresight, her enthusiasm and her humor. Nurses have seen her as a role model. Women have seen her as a strong supporter. All know her to be a competent and energetic servant of the people. We do well to honor her.
Degree presented by: Una Ridley, Dean of Nursing
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