Lillie Johnson is the first of nine children who migrated from Jamaica to Canada in 1960, where she then made herself a promise to return to provide health care services to those who could not afford it.
By the time Lillie arrived in Toronto, Lillie was already a trained nurse, midwife and teacher with working experience in England, Scotland and Jamaica. Lillie went on to serve as the first Black Director of Public health in Ontario. She was also a consultant for the Ministry of Health, then became Director of Nursing services at Leeds Granville and Lanark Health Unit in Eastern Ontario.
In 1981, she founded the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario, along with a group of other professionals who were appalled by how patients with Sickle Cell Disease were being treated and wanted to improve the lives of those living with this life altering disease. One of their greatest achievements remains advocating for and the inclusion of Sickle Cell Disease into newborn screening in Ontario in 2006.
Lillie is the recipient of several awards including the Bloomberg Award from the Bloomberg School of Nursing at U. of T., the 2010 Toronto Public Health Champion, Ontario’s highest honour, The Order of Ontario and in September 2014 Lillie was presented with the Legacy award for her lifelong, extraordinary commitment to advancing the health and wellbeing of the Black community at the Inaugural Black Health Alliance Awards.
In 1989 she fulfilled her promise and returned to Jamaica to volunteer
for CUSO international.
For Lillie’s 100 Birthday, we are launching the Lillie Johnson Excellence In Nursing Award. It is a patient nominated award given to nurses who best embodies everything that Ms. Johnson has come to represent in the Sickle Cell community and beyond.
Nurses who go above and beyond the job description. Nurses who take the time to not only learn about their patient but about Sickle Cell Disease and all that comes with it. Nurses who, regardless of training, biases, and outdated misconceptions will, if necessary, go against the grain, in order to do what’s right for their patient.
Every year we will be awarding $1,000 plus a custom pin to a Canadian nurse who best exemplifies what made Lillie Johnson the staunch advocate she was in the 60’s and who she continues to be to this day.
Please remember this when nominating a nurse.
Nominations are open every year from March 16th (Lillie’s Birthday) until August 16th
Thank you and we look forward to receiving your submissions.