Honourable senators, on Thursday, May 2, I was honoured to be a guest at the 2013 Nightingale Gala held by the Canadian Nurses Foundation, the CNF, at the Ottawa Convention Centre. In terms of galas, this third annual event truly qualified. From the 500-plus distinguished patrons and guests to the beautifully decorated room and the delicious dinner service, it was truly a gala, but one with a serious agenda.

The CNF’s Nursing 4.0 Campaign was to raise $4 million to fund scholarships and research opportunities for Canadian nurses. That evening, to great applause from all, it was announced that the hard work had paid off; the $4-million target had been reached.

Over the past 50 years, the Canadian Nurses Foundation has awarded grants to more than 1,500 nurses and nursing students. Not only have these awards transformed the lives of nurses, they have also created improved experiences and outcomes for millions of patients who have benefited from these investments in nurses.

The keynote speaker was Sarah Painter, who personifies the promise of the newest generation of Canada’s nurses. She is currently employed as a registered nurse at the emergency department of the St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

She spoke poignantly of feeling called to enter the nursing profession after spending time with her father as they waited together for his chemotherapy treatments, which, sadly, ultimately were unsuccessful in halting the spread of his cancer.

Sarah recalled that the caring and kindness of her father’s attending nurses created in her the strong determination to become a nurse, and she is now enrolled in the Bachelor of Nursing Program at the University of Manitoba, thanks to the CNF.

There were other most interesting speeches and personal testimonials, but time does not permit me to talk about them.

In closing, I would like to quote from the letter written by His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, in writing to the CNF:

“Every day, the staff and volunteers of the Canadian Nurses Foundation work hard to fund scholarships and research opportunities for Canadian nurses. By supporting them, we are supporting their efforts to create a smart and caring community for the people they serve — and in turn, a smart and caring Canada for all”.

Today, I am asking Honourable senators to support the work of the CNF, whether it is in time, talent or resources.