To the University community,
It is with great sadness that I share with you the news of the passing of one of our honorary degree recipients, community pioneer, and friend to Cape Breton University, Dr. Clotilda Adessa Coward Douglas Yakimchuk.
In 2010, Clotilda received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Cape Breton University. This honour was in celebration of her distinguished career and exemplary record of community service. She was a retired nursing professional, mentor, activist and role model, who made significant contributions to her profession and to her community.
Clotilda was born and raised in Whitney Pier, Nova Scotia. In 1954, she became the first Black graduate of the Nova Scotia Hospital School of Nursing. She also received a post graduate midwifery diploma from Colony Hospital, Grenada, West Indies, a post graduate psychiatric nursing certificate from the Nova Scotia Hospital and a diploma in adult education from St.FX University.
She spent 50 years in the nursing profession undertaking various roles, some of which included beginning her career as Head Nurse of the Admission/Discharge Unit of the Nova Scotia Hospital, moving to Grenada, West Indies, and back to Canada in 1967, where she took a position as Staff Nurse at the Sydney City Hospital. She then served as Director of Education Services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital until her retirement from nursing in 1994.
Clotilda served as President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Nova Scotia (now known as The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia). She is a proponent of education and lifelong learning and was an exceptional role model to the many nurses who followed in her path.
Outside of the nursing profession, Clotilda is a well-respected community activist and has left an indelible mark on her community. She was the founding President of the Black Community Development Organization, leading the movement to provide affordable housing in low-income communities.
In 2003, she received the Order of Canada and, in 2018, the Order of Nova Scotia. She is also a member of the Nova Scotia Black Hall of Fame and, in 1991, received the national Harry Jerome Award in acknowledgement of her cultural and community achievements.
Clotilda was also a proponent and friend of Cape Breton University. She played a significant role in the University campaign to offer its own nursing degree. As chair of a committee of the Cape Breton Retired Nurses Interest Group, she played a key role in the creation of a book to tell the stories of the nursing history of Cape Breton. As a member of the Group, Clotilda helped to create an award at CBU to help future nurses with the expense of a post-secondary education.
Please join me in offering our sincere and heartfelt condolences to Clotilda’s family.
Yours very truly,
David C. Dingwall
President and Vice-Chancellor