Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Helena Friesen Reimer (1905-1993)


Born at Steinbach in 1905, eldest child of Abraham Reimer and Margaretha Friesen, sister to Ernest Friesen Reimer, she obtained the highest marks in Manitoba on the Department of Education Entrance Examinations. She taught school for some years then, in 1937, received her RN at the Winnipeg General Hospital. She held positions at the hospital as general nurse, instructor, supervisor, and assistant superintendent. She later worked with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration as matron of a large refugee camp in Egypt of women and children who fled from Europe during the Second World War. She received a Bachelor of Nursing from McGill University (1951) and a RM (Admin) from the University of Chicago (1957).

From 1953 to 1956, under the auspices of the World Health Organization, she helped to organize a School of Nursing in affiliation with the University of Alexandria, in Egypt. She served as a nursing consultant in China, Taiwan and Cambodia before contracting a serious tropical disease. She returned to Canada in 1957 and accepted the position of Secretary Registrar of the Association of Nurses of the Province of Quebec, which she held until her retirement. She spent her retirement years in Winnipeg teaching English to refugees, working with the elderly, and taking University courses.

In recognition of her community service, she was inducted into the Order of Canada (1974) and she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg (1974) and the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977).

She died at Steinbach on 16 May 1993. She was selected posthumously as a Manitoba Woman Trailblazer.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 19 May 1993, page C6.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 4 October 2021

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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