We have invited my Aunt Hélène Bulger to be a guest on our blog.
Together we would like to introduce this month’s Charity, the St. Amant Centre in Winnipeg Manitoba, and the Memorable Manitoban, the lady who in a very real sense founded the centre that is named for her, Beatrice St. Amant, my Great-Aunt.
To this day she is respected as a health care pioneer and is recognized for her contribution by the Centre named for her.
Below my Aunt Helene shares memories of her Aunt and cousin. I would like to add that what she does not share is that she has worked with them as a volunteer for some time now. As you will read her Grandson is a potential patient which has made her much more conscious of the Centre and the services and programmes it offers. All of which we felt gives her an unusually broad perspective on the St. Amant Centre. We thank her very much for taking the time from her busy schedule to contribute this piece.
Have you ever felt you met an angel on earth? I have – not just one but two of them. Beatrice St. Amant is the first angel.
St.Amant was named after her and she is my aunt!
Born in Morice, Quebec, came to St. Jean Baptiste in Manitoba in 1914 and worked as a schoolteacher for 23 years.
In 1939 she established Youville Hospital in a Transcona farmhouse as a facility for developmentally disabled children, running it until July 1956 when her diminishing health require she move her patients – her children – to the St. Amant ward in the St. Boniface seniors’ home run by the Sisters of Charity.
She supervised the ward until her death on 29 July 1957. She was buried in the St. Boniface Cemetery. She is commemorated by the St. Amant Centre in the St. Vital area of Winnipeg. a world re-knowned centre helping our most vulnerable citizens reach their potential.
I can attest to the veracity of the above information because as indicated above, Beatrice St. Amant is my aunt. I speak of her in the present as her work continues at the St. Amant Centre .
Initially when she left teaching it was to care for her son Gerry, my cousin, who had epilepsy. At that time, this condition was greatly misunderstood and there was no school available for him. Once she started home schooling him, other parents with the same dilemma asked for her to care for their child. Her generous spirit and her loving heart made her the ideal person for parents to trust. Though I was just a young child, when I would visit her, I remember her cuddling the children in her care and continuing to give them care when it was detrimental to her own health.
I feel a special closeness to my Aunt Beatrice because one of my 10 grandchildren, Alexandre (Ali) who is now 17 years old is non verbal and faces daily challenges which would floor most human beings. He is my angel #2. He takes medication for epilepsy and before the correct medications were found he would have up to one hundred myoclonic seizures a day. Though we have not yet availed ourselves of St. Amant services at this time because of of his incredible parents, 4 brothers and loving family support of his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, we do not know what the future holds for this angel among us. Ali spreads joy by his very existence. He laughs easily, is very present and communicative despite being non verbal.
After my retirement as CEO of a credit union 10 years ago, I gave motivational sessions and you may google youtube.helene bulger for a short demo. Ali was my inspiration for many of my sessions. St Amant allows individuals to reach their highest potential.
If ever you wanted to support a worthwhile organization, St. Amant is the one.To learn more about the St. Amant Centre, its services and how you can help please follow the link provided on this page.: http://stamant.ca/about-us/
THE FOLLOWING IS TAKEN FROM the ST AMANT WEBSITE.
Founded by the Grey Nuns in 1931 as the St. Boniface Sanatorium, the Grey Nuns originally cared for patients with tuberculosis. The building was re-named the St. Vital Hospital in 1961.
Children with disabilities were first admitted to the St.Amant Ward in 1959. The organization was re-named St.Amant Centre in 1974 as the space became dedicated to meeting the needs of persons with developmental disabilities.
The Grey Nuns nurtured the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of every individual they cared for, laying the foundation for many generations of work to come. The Grey Nuns were strong advocates for the people they cared for and were determined to teach those who it was said could not be taught, to help children learn to walk who it was said would never walk. They helped each and every individual develop to the best of their abilities. The Grey Nuns were fearless leaders, unafraid to go against the grain or be defeated by the attitudes that prevailed toward those with developmental disabilities at the time. They provided direction and leadership of the organization into the 1990’s.
St.Amant was named in honour of Beatrice St. Amant. Unable to find a facility in all of Canada to care for her young epileptic son, she gave up teaching and did pioneering work caring for children with epilepsy and developmental disabilities in a wood frame turn-of-the-century farmhouse three kilometers west of Transcona.
Beatrice St. Amant cared for more than 100 children at the Youville Epileptic Hospital. When Beatrice St. Amant became ill and could see that her time of service was limited, she requested that the Grey Nuns continue the work that she had begun.
St.Amant Centre grew from a small organization located in one building, to the organization’s first community home that opened in 1977. In 2005 the organization was re-named St.Amant to reflect the scope of work that occurs within the community throughout Manitoba.