The CFNU Logo
June 8, 2023

CFNU names seniors’ advocate, street nurse and two nursing union activists as recipients of prestigious Bread & Roses Award

2023 Convention

Silas: Whether at work or in their communities, nurses’ outstanding activism must be celebrated.

June 8, 2023 (CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I.) – A seniors’ advocate, a street nurse and two prominent nursing union activists were named today as recipients of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions’ (CFNU) prestigious Bread & Roses Award.

Bread & Roses Awards are presented each year for outstanding contributions to health care policy and decision-making, and for raising public awareness of nursing issues and patient advocacy. The awards were presented today by CFNU President Linda Silas at the national organization’s Biennial Convention.

Cathy Crowe is a Canadian “street nurse,” educator, author, filmmaker, social justice activist and recipient of the Order of Canada, who is best known as an advocate for the homeless. A visiting practitioner at Toronto Metropolitan University, she is a frequent commentator on the determinants of health, homelessness and affordable housing.

“Cathy is a powerful voice for the dispossessed in Canada and for the nursing profession,” Silas said. “This award represents the thanks of Canada’s nurses for her tireless work to make our country a better place for everyone.”

Cecile Cassista is a well-known advocate of seniors’ and women’s rights, and a strong voice in the Canadian labour movement. A recipient of the Order of New Brunswick and a town councillor in the community of Riverview, N.B., she founded, in 2004, the Coalition for Seniors’ and Nursing Home Residents’ Rights, and serves as its executive director. She is a former vice‑president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.

“Cecile reminds us of the importance of seniors’ rights. She works hard to ensure that all seniors have access to care by registered nurses and licensed practical nurses and not by underqualified employees whose work is not regulated,” Silas said. “She is a committed friend of the elderly and our profession.”

Yvette Coffey is president of the Registered Nurses’ Union of Newfoundland and Labrador (RNUNL) and was a vice president of the union for seven years before that. She is a tireless member of the CFNU’s National Executive Board. She played a key role in the CFNU’s work to protect and support nurses across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has helped shape recruitment and retention advocacy. She helped bring the British Columbia Nurses’ Union back into the CFNU family.

“Yvette led RNUNL through two of the most tumultuous years in the history of Canada’s nursing profession and did so with confidence and grace,” Silas said. “She’s a fierce advocate of publicly funded and publicly delivered health care, and an enormous asset to nurses.”

Darlene Jackson has been president of the Manitoba Nurses Union and a member of the National Executive Board since 2018. She is also on the board of the Manitoba Federation of Labour. During the pandemic, she was a high-profile advocate for nurses as they coped with COVID-19 and the resulting understaffing and burnout.

“A natural spokesperson for nursing issues, Darlene was front and centre advocating for nurses throughout the pandemic, showing the public the reality of the crisis that was faced by nurses,” said Silas. “She is also a strong voice for nurses within the labour movement.”

The Bread & Roses Award is named in honour of the pioneers in the fight for women’s suffrage and women’s workplace rights and dignity. The phrase is often associated with a textile workers’ strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, in which the strikers demanded: “Give us bread, but give us roses too.”


The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing 250,000 of Canada’s frontline nurses in every sector of health care – from home care, to LTC, community and acute care, including nursing students – and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in the future of public health care.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Linda Silas or any of the Bread & Roses Award recipients, please contact: Adella Khan,, 613-807-2942.