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From Tundra to Tropics: Letters Home from a Canadian Nurse

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524 pages6 hours

Summary

When Lois James graduated as a nurse in 1961, she yearned to travel and experience the world. At a time when Canadian women were increasingly breaking free of social constraints, the author found work helping others in distant corners of the globe. Her experiences include flying medevac flights in the Canadian Arctic, caring for Tibetan refugee children in India and directing a nursing program in Honduras in the midst of war. This is her story.

Central to the author's narrative are the letters that she wrote home regularly during her time away. To put her story in context, the author also discusses the historical events, economic conditions and social values that affected her life and those of other women.

Coverage of the author in the media

"Lois Chetelat was a registered nurse in Aklavik [Inuvik] in the early 1960s, and she went on her fair share of Medevac flights ... On one trip from Sachs Harbour she remembers, 'we had to hang intravenous bottles up just inside a normal airplane'-jury-rigged with a coat hanger, no less".
-Herb Mathesin up here This Month In Canada's far North

"But the bulk of the responsibility fell on Miss Lois James. 'For three days and two nights Lois go almost no sleep.' At times the horror amounted to nightmare. 'On the fourth day Lois had a wild jeep ride to Ka[n]gra but the eight-year old girl she was carrying died in her arms minutes before reaching the hospital.'"
-George Woodcock
The Globe and Mail

"Lois James-Chetelat ... Tibetan refugee children, who were streaming over the border ... in the wake of the Chinese occupation ...with every health problem imaginable. I cared for hundreds of malnourished children and kids with diarrhea, scabies and other skin infections, sores and severe worm infections. In the spring of 1964, the flow of refugees became a flood."

-Jack Stackhouse
The Globe and Mail

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