Two alumnae called to the Order of Canada

(Edmonton) Lorna Crozier and Jeanne Besner, two University of Alberta alumnae, have been named to the Order of Canada. Crozier will be inducted as an officer while Besner will be appointed a member at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

Crozier, a celebrated poet who has written 17 books, received her master’s of arts degree from the U of A in 1980. Since then, she has gone on to inspire and mentor other writers and artists as a teacher in places such as the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts. Crozier has also held the position of writer-in-residence twice in her native province of Saskatchewan, as well as at the University of Toronto.

Since 1991, Crozier has taught at the University of Victoria where she currently serves as the chair of the writing department.

Crozier says she is thrilled and humbled by the honour, especially given her modest beginnings in rural Saskatchewan. “For me, the award recognizes the significance of an art form that doesn’t get much acknowledgement in our market-based economy,” she said.

Already an accomplished writer and poet by the time she arrived at the U of A, Crozier said the opportunity to complete her master’s degree prepared her for teaching at a post-secondary level, while getting the chance to work with renowned professors and authors like Rudy Wiebe broadened her own learning experiences. When she was encouraged to apply for a position in Victoria, she says, “The MA from the University of Alberta gave me the confidence, educational background and comfort I needed to teach at that level.”

Besner, who received a bachelor of science (nursing) in 1977, a master’s of health services administration in 1985 and a PhD in 1998, all from the U of A, is being recognized for her contributions to public health. She has held various positions throughout her career, including director of public health nursing and primary care development in the former Calgary Regional Health Authority. She has served as a board member of the Canadian Nurses’ Association and president of the College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta. Besner, who recently retired from her position as director of Alberta Health Services’ Health Systems and Workforce Research Unit, is currently the director of JFB Workforce Consulting. She continues to serves as an adjunct professor in the U of A’s Faculty of Nursing.

Besner says she is overwhelmed to find herself being inducted into the Order of Canada and is “grateful to those who championed my nomination.”

She credits her U of A experience for unlocking the doors to her career path, noting several professors who were inspirational.

“It was [at the U of A that] I first became aware of the amazing contribution that nurses from the time of Florence Nightingale onward have made to societal and health care reform,” she said. “It was also then I first understood the immense opportunity that nurses have to help reform the current health-care system.”

She adds her doctorate was a transformational event in her career, noting that her “vision for nursing began to evolve during my doctoral studies and was sharpened through the research that my team and I conducted over the past 10 years with Alberta Health Services.”