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Canadian Public Health Association

CPHA recognizes outstanding contributions to public health


Ottawa, ON

Each year, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) honours individuals or organizations who provide outstanding service to their community and profession. CPHA’s members nominate candidates for the awards and the recipients are selected by CPHA’s Awards Committee and confirmed by the Board of Directors. CPHA is pleased to announce the following recipients of its 2024 Honorary Awards to be presented at its annual conference on Wednesday 24 April 2024:

Vera Etches, MD, CCFP, MHSc, FRCPC

Dr. Vera Etches stands as an exemplary advocate for public health, highly deserving of recognition for her contributions to public health, health promotion and policy alongside programs conducive to community well-being. Since becoming Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health (OPH), she spearheaded transformative initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as neighborhood hubs focused on prevention, equity and impact, leveraging input from employees, partners and community members arising from the COVID-19 pandemic response to address shifting community needs. Her provincial leadership with the Council of Medical Officers of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Working Group influenced strategic implementation and protection of the population. Her commitment to transparent communications fosters infection prevention and control in the community and organizations, as she supports keeping people in Ottawa informed through engaging dashboards and social media channels. The creation of OPH’s Reconciliation Action Plan, evaluation, and evolving work on Indigenous rights, based on community relationships, underscores her commitment to inclusivity. Previous contributions demonstrate the breadth of her work: she provided leadership to evaluate a Community Infection Prevention and Control Lapse affecting 7000 patients, open supervised injection services run by OPH, respond to Ebola, measles and hepatitis A outbreaks, create access to online testing for sexually transmitted infections (a first in Canada), and improve transitions of care for people discharged from hospital following delivery of a baby. She remains committed to working across sectors and organizations to advance solutions that will improve social determinants of health and root causes of ill health, including racism and environmental health. Dr. Etches is a model leader whose mark on Canada’s public health landscape makes her an exceptional candidate for this recognition

Josephine B. Etowa, PhD, RN, RM, FWACN, FAAN, FCAN, FCAHS

Professor Josephine Etowa is a global leader in research and action to reduce health inequities faced by Black communities and transform health systems in Canada and abroad. Her community-based research (CBR) program consists of studies on health equity, perinatal health, COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, nurses’ work life, and community nursing. With hundreds of scholarly publications, workshops, and talks, and dozens of accolades, Professor Etowa’s scholarly record speaks for itself and makes her community contributions even more impressive. Her seminal contributions to understanding the determinants of health inequities and healthcare access, and innovative solutions to address health inequities along ethno-racial lines, promote healthy behaviours for perinatal health, enhance cultural competence, and improve workforce diversity management influence health policy in Canada and abroad. She helped develop a centre that offers graduate degrees in public health, midwifery, and nursing in Nigeria. Through this centre, she helped to build health research capacity in that country and foster evidence-informed policies. Underpinning her CBR in Canada are authentic engagement, capacity building, and integrated knowledge mobilization with Black communities and stakeholders. She has established two community organizations that advance health equity for Black Canadians and a CBR lab focused on equity, transformative change, reciprocal mentoring, and community empowerment. She has mentored over 100 Black people in community, many of whom now hold influential positions in Canada’s provincial and federal governments. To further community-led action on health, her current research aims to develop best practice guidelines for research, data management, and knowledge mobilization to be genuinely led by Black communities.


The Ron Draper Health Promotion Award is presented to an individual, group or organization engaged in community work to acknowledge a significant contribution to health promotion to build healthy public policy, create environments that support health, enable community action, enhance personal skills, and/or re-orient health services. Nominees are not required to be a CPHA member. 

The Certificate of Merit provides CPHA with an opportunity to give official recognition to an individual, group or organization for noteworthy services to public health and that furthered CPHA in achieving its objectives. Nominees are not required to be a CPHA member.

For more information contact:
Dolores Gutierrez, Communications & Marketing Officer
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769, ext. 190

About the Canadian Public Health Association
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the international community. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, we are uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world. We are a national, independent, not-for-profit, voluntary association. Our members believe in universal and equitable access to the basic conditions that are necessary to achieve health for all.

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