The Nancy Malloy Memorial Award

Established in memory of Nancy Malloy, B.N.Sc. by her friends and classmates from the Kingston General Hospital (class of 1968) and Queen’s University (Nursing Science 1969) to commemorate her dedication and enthusiasm to international nursing.

Nancy graduated from the diploma nursing program at Kingston General Hospital in 1968, and from Queen’s University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree. After graduation, Nancy worked at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal as a Nursing in service educator, for two years. Then she began her administrative career, first as a nursing supervisor at Maimonides Home for the Aged until 1973, when she moved to Vancouver and became a nursing supervisor at the Vancouver General Hospital. In 1987, while working full-time, she received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from City University, Bellevue, Washington State, and U.S.A.

Nancy joined the Canadian Red Cross Association in 1987, as a director for the B.C./Yukon sector, managing the six outpost hospitals staffed by nurses in remotes areas of British Columbia. Her interest in the international Red Cross movement led to her enrollment and training in Geneva as a delegate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). She went on her first overseas assignment to Ethiopia in 1990; then Kuwait, in 1991 during the Gulf War; Belgrade as a medical administrator in 1993; Zaire as a hospital administrator in 1995. Finally, Nancy went to Chechnya, as a medical administrator, in September 1996, following a peace settlement between Russia and Chechnya, and the opening of a village hospital in Novye Atagi established by the ICRC.

In bringing medical relief to civilian victims of the Russian-Chechnyan conflict, Nancy Malloy and her co-workers were humanitarians who became victims, when, in the early morning hours of December 17, 1996, she and five other colleagues were brutally murdered as they slept in the hospital-compound. Her name came to the world’s attention when Nancy Malloy became the first Canadian Red Cross worker to be killed in the field. “Nancy Malloy died a heroine”, said Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Nancy thrived on challenges, new experiences and helping people. Life was never boring for her and she had a zest for life like nobody else. She had an unquenchable enthusiasm for the things that meant the most to her: her family, her friends and colleagues, her work. And she shared her life with everyone. She was truly one of a kind with a style all her own; flamboyant, witty, colourful, she often directed jokes at herself; with her loud laugh, distinctive southern drawl, she was always at the centre of activities and “inside” jokes. She was tall and distinctive looking, at 6’1”with a shock of white hair, she created a presence when she attended any gathering. Nancy was a person of contrasts; she was equally comfortable wearing blue jeans as silk, she enjoyed a cold beer as much as caviar.

She loved her home in Vancouver and two cats, O’Reilly and Clancy. She visited her family in Toronto as often as possible en route to her overseas assignments. For twenty years she took her vacation in a remote fishing village in Mexico, where she enjoyed the sun and buying interesting and colourful artifacts with which to decorate her home. She had a flair for wearing bright geometric caftans, large extravagant earrings and bare feet. She loved to travel especially to places which were off the beaten track at the time, such as Bali, Russia, Peru.

Nancy’s assignments with the ICRC allowed her the opportunity to combine her love of travel to unusual and distant places, with her exceptional skill as an administrator in challenging circumstances, and to direct her compassion for people who were innocent victims of war. She was stimulated by the challenges of each assignment and always ready to direct all her energies to whatever task she was given. She was not aware of the issue of personal security; in fact, in her last Canadian interview before departing for Chechnya, she spoke about not taking unusual risks, but she was motivated to assist “innocent victims who were not able at this time to help themselves, to get back to living their ordinary lives”. She felt she “had some skills that might help them on an interim basis”.

In the fall of 1997, Nancy Malloy received two highly prestigious awards posthumously. In September she was bestowed the Order of the Red Cross, the first time the Canadian Red Cross has given this award.