Summerside honours 'good neighbour' Dr. Heather Morrison

·3 min read
Dr. Heather Morrison, pictured here after announcing P.E.I.'s second case of COVID-19, received multiple nominations for the award for her handling of the pandemic in the province. (CBC - image credit)
Dr. Heather Morrison, pictured here after announcing P.E.I.'s second case of COVID-19, received multiple nominations for the award for her handling of the pandemic in the province. (CBC - image credit)

The City of Summerside has awarded the annual Frances O. Perry Good Neighbour of the Year award to P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison.

The memorial award honours Frances Perry, the first woman on Summerside council and the city's only female mayor. It is given to individuals, groups or organizations who contributed to the overall "good" to the city.

Council says they received several nominations in Dr. Morrison's name from residents, based on her leadership through the COVID-19 pandemic with low case numbers and no hospitalizations or deaths on the island.

"The chief public health officer of Prince Edward Island has guided our province, it was a challenging past year, with intelligence, thoughtfulness and grace," said former councillor Jim Steele in presenting the award Thursday evening.

"Dr. Morrison has engaged patience and kindness in leadership by example. She has dedicated herself to keeping Islanders safe and healthy during the crisis, and it has done so much by working tirelessly for the good of all Islanders.

"Dr. Heather Morrison has been a true good neighbour to the city of Summerside."

Good neighbours in company

Morrison, who has been P.E.I.'s chief public health officer since 2007, was on hand to accept the award. The event is normally a busy celebration wrapped into the city's birthday, but was instead streamed on YouTube.

"It's really humbling to be chosen for this award and for being a good neighbour to your beautiful city. I actually believe that the city of Summerside has been a good neighbour to the rest of the province," she said.

"When I reflect on the level of cooperation we've had in terms of the outbreaks in this area and the tremendous response ... we could not have asked for better collaboration or support from the city, local businesses, organizations and residents."

We can see a light at the end of the tunnel. We need to get there — Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer

In late February, Summerside-area businesses was at the centre of a cluster of cases and exposures sites associated with an outbreak that triggered a circuit breaker and three-day lockdown.

"We were met always with kindness, concern, cooperation and a strong willingness to help and look after one another and these are the characteristics of good neighbours," she said.

'You kept us all calm'

In addition to being a medical doctor, Morrison is P.E.I.'s first female Rhodes Scholar and holds both Master and Doctorate degrees from the University of Oxford in Comparative Social Research and Social Policy, with a thesis dissertation in health policy decision-making.

"Thank you for the tremendous leadership that you've displayed for all of us, I'm unsure where we would be without that," said Coun. Barb Ramsay after the award was given.

"I spent many a day last March, April, May watching you daily and sharing your briefings with the residents of Summerside and, boy, we were all pretty afraid at the time, but you kept us all calm and and we knew we were going to be OK under your guidance."

Morrison thanked the council for the award and also extended thanks to her family and team at the chief public health office.

"Atlantic Canada has been described as the safest place in Canada, and I would say, if not the world. As we continue to work together to navigate through this global pandemic, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. We need to get there," she said.

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