Constance Thomas

Date: 2021
Location: Edmonton
Profile: Constance Thomas was born in the Commonwealth of Dominica and migrated to Canada in 1974 after receiving RN training at the University Hospital in Jamaica. After holding several hospital positions, she trained in midwifery in England. In 1977, back in Alberta, she worked in Labour and Delivery at the Misericordia Hospital. There she faced repeated demands to perform cleaning tasks over her nursing responsibilities. She refused, and was dismissed in 1980. A fledgling UNA defended her. The single black parent also faced discrimination in housing and public transportation. From 1980-1983, Thomas worked casually at Camsell Hospital and then Mewburn Veterans Centre. She obtained a Master of Science with a concentration in Health Services Administration at Central Michigan University. Despite her qualifications, Thomas was denied promotions in Health Administration. At one hospital, a senior employee repeatedly called her “brown sugar.” She experienced frequent racial challenges during 43 years as a Registered Nurse in a system “that allowed nurses to be treated like nobody.” Thomas joined many UNA demonstrations at the Misericordia Hospital for better working conditions, hours of work, and pay during the late 1970s. She chastises Ralph Klein’s contempt for health care workers and recounts the discomfort of working with unmasked patients during COVID.
Keywords: Camsell Hospital; Caribbean; Dominica; Healthcare, Canada vs USA; Hospitals, Edmonton; Nurses of Colour; Workers of Colour
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See also: Black Communities; Systemic Racism; United Nurses of Alberta; Women and Work