History of the Vancouver Chapter
The Vancouver Chapter of the United Ostomy Association began as the dream of Miss May Fawcett, a forthright, outspoken, Fort Macleod, Alberta, school teacher who moved to Vancouver in the 1950’s and worked as a salesperson for a major Vancouver Printer, until her passing in St. Paul’s Hospital in 1987.
May had her ileostomy surgery in 1967 at St. Paul’s and soon discovered there was no organized help or support for ostomates in British Columbia. Once they left the hospital, new ostomates pretty much had to experiment and figure things out on their own with the help of eager, but inexperienced salespersons in the ostomy appliance retail shops. Miss Fawcett, mercifully, set out to change all that.
In 1968, with the help of her surgeon, Dr. E. N. McHammond and his brilliant and dedicated associate, the now retired, Dr. Kenneth Atkinson, May set about organizing a local support group for new and existing ostomates in the Vancouver area and in the summer of 1968 the Ileostomy Association of British Columbia (IABC) was registered as a non-profit Society with the Provincial Government in Victoria, with May as President and Bea Brail as Treasurer. There were 30 members, annual membership fees were $3.00 and monthly meetings were held at G. F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre at 900 West 27th.
From the beginning the IABC affiliated with the United Ostomy Association in the USA, headquartered in Los Angeles. Miss Fawcett also volunteered as a Provincial Representative and was instrumental in organizing Ostomy Chapters throughout British Columbia and Alberta.
In November of 1970 the IABC became the United Ostomy Association of British Columbia and later the Vancouver Chapter of the UOA.
Membership grew steadily through the early 1970’s reaching its peak of 450 members in the Spring of 1976, but with the introduction of more advanced surgical techniques, trained ostomy nurses, improved ostomy appliances, and a ton of information on ostomy internet websites, membership has slowly decreased to its current level of 150.
On June 12, 2000, the Vancouver Chapter, along with almost all other Canadian Chapters, bid a fond, thankful, and we’ll-miss-you farewell to the wonderfully helpful UOA in the USA and joined the new Canadian group, the United Ostomy Association of Canada, an organization formed in 1999, after lengthy and tireless efforts of the late Alan Porter of the Hamilton, Ontario chapter.
By Fred Green