April 19th, 2019

City council agrees to honour Sisters of St. Martha

By Mabell, Dave on April 16, 2019.

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Recognizing 90 years of care and compassion, city council has backed a proposal for a monument in honour of the Sisters of St. Martha.

The religious order’s last remaining women here will be retiring to Nova Scotia this summer, closing the page on nine decades of hospital services, nurse training and seniors’ care in Lethbridge.

Councillors accepted Mayor Chris Spearman’s move to provide up to $15,000 for a public tribute in response to a plea from city businessman Gary Kohn, who served 27 years on the board of directors for St. Michael’s Hospital.

Former mayors, aldermen and other community leaders were among a crowd that filled council chambers Monday in support of the proposal.

Council members also received about 150 letters in support of the memorial.

“In the history of Lethbridge, no other identifiable person or group have given more service, time, sacrifice, energy and devotion to the health and well-being, medical needs, physically and spiritually to the betterment of the citizens of Lethbridge,” Kohn said.

“Their service to the community is unequalled.”

By a majority vote, council moved to recognize the sisters’ legacy. Some councillors shared their personal stories of care in the long-running general hospital.

It was the Sisters of St. Martha who invited his mother to come here from Nova Scotia, pointed out Coun. Mark Campbell – and she spent her whole nursing career at St. Michael’s.

Coun. Belinda Crowson opposed the grant, saying the request did not meet council’s guidelines for memorials. Many more groups and individuals are also worthy of recognition, she added.

Sometimes council has to follow the letter of the law, replied Coun. Blaine Hyggen.

Other times, it may be “the spirit of the law.”

Adding to the city’s $15,000 grant, the mayor said, southern Albertans might want to make their donations to create a larger monument than has been proposed.

“I would be willing to contribute.”

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