Reimer, Helena Friesen (1905-1993)

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Helena F. Reimer.
Photo Credit: MHC Archives Collection 666.01

Helena F. Reimer: nurse, educator and administrator; born 27 January 1905 in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada to Abraham A. and Margaretha P. (Friesen) Reimer. She was the first child in a family of six sons and five daughters. Helena died 16 May 1993 in Steinbach.

In 1928 Helena obtained the highest marks in Manitoba in the Department of Education Entrance Examination, and taught for several years thereafter. In 1937 Helena completed training as a Registered Nurse at Winnipeg General Hospital and dedicated herself to the service of humankind. At Winnipeg General Hospital Helena held several positions during her career as general nurse, instructor, supervisor and Assistant Superintendent. During the Second World War, Helena was one of the first nurses in Canada selected to participate in work overseas with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. Her first assignment in 1944 was as Matron a refugee camp in the Middle East. In 1946 Helena was transferred to Taiwan/China and worked there to implement proper nursing care and training until 1949. She resumed work overseas in 1951, this time under the World Health Organization, and was stationed in Cambodia as a nursing consultant. Helena spent two years in Cambodia before she was transferred to Egypt where she was instrumental in the founding of the Higher Institute of Nursing, a part of the University of Alexandria. She served there as an administrator from 1953-1956. In 1957 Helena accepted the position of Secretary Registrar of The Association of Nurses of the Province of Quebec, where she worked until her retirement in 1970. Helena F. Reimer spent her retirement in Winnipeg, Manitoba, volunteering with the elderly, teaching English to refugees, and taking courses.

Reimer valued higher education, and demonstrated this through her work as an educator, and as a student. In 1951 Helena earned her Bachelor of Nursing from McGill University, and in 1957 she obtained a Master’s degree in Nursing administration from the University of Chicago. Others recognized Helena’s commitment, accomplishments and standard of excellence. In 1974 she received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Winnipeg, and in the same year, was named to the Order of Canada for over 30 years of service and dedication in the field of nursing in Canada and abroad. In 1977 Helena received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

Helena F. Reimer was a skilled administrator and a passionate humanitarian. She was a lifelong member of the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church. Her faith in God informed all she did.


Armstrong-Reid, Susan and David Murray. Armies of Peace: Canada and the UNRRA Years. University of Toronto Press Incorporated, 2008.

Archival Records

Helena F. Reimer fonds, Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Author(s) Erika Enns Rodine
Date Published February 2010

Cite This Article

MLA style

Rodine, Erika Enns. "Reimer, Helena Friesen (1905-1993)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2010. Web. 16 Jul 2018.,_Helena_Friesen_(1905-1993)&oldid=138911.

APA style

Rodine, Erika Enns. (February 2010). Reimer, Helena Friesen (1905-1993). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 16 July 2018, from,_Helena_Friesen_(1905-1993)&oldid=138911.

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