Chapter 3: The Invisibility of Black Nurses


Nursing in Canada and internationally is founded on the story of “The Lady with the Lamp.” Her name was Florence Nightingale, and she established the Nightingale Training School for Nurses in 1860. The omnipresence of this white nurse throughout nursing history suggests that no other nurses were instrumental to the evolution of nursing – particularly nurses from racialized groups. This is a direct result of systemic racism and the power of white supremacy.

Other pioneers have been instrumental in the advancement of nursing throughout the world, although they are rarely mentioned. Some examples of Black and racialized nurses include: 

  • Mary Seacole.
  • Edith Monture.
  • Agnes Chan.
  • Rufaida Al-Aslamia.
  • Marisse Scott. 

Despite facing numerous barriers, these racialized nurses forged ahead to serve others with care and compassion. They have made invaluable contributions to the advancement of nursing education and practice, and have created inroads for many other nurses. As we work to foster equity and social justice within the field of nursing, let’s take a moment and reflect on these influential nurses and how their legacy continues through the stories of today’s modern nurses and leaders. Let’s start with the Hall of Fame for these iconic nurses who contributed to nursing against all odds.


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