By Louise Laliberte
Back in April 1968, in Saint-Hyacinthe:
Four young women will receive their diploma in Veterinary Medicine. One, Françoise Hébrard, is from France, and the three others are the first Quebecers to earn such a degree: Diane Gravel, Anne Bousquet and Louise Laliberté.
Can you imagine… for the first time since a man became a veterinarian in 1868, Quebec women will now also have the right to treat animals. It took exactly 100 years !
This evening, the Small animal veterinary Association (AMVQ) is happy to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival in the profession of those three exceptional women.
In his presentation of Louise Laliberté, Dr. Michel Pepin, well known Quebec veterinarian, listed some highlights of Louise’s career:
The young Louise, already a provincial fencing champion, decided to register at the Veterinary School of Saint-Hyacinthe. Once graduated, she taught biology and microbiology at the Saint-Hyacinthe CEGEP.
She is then invited by Vanier College to set up a course in veterinary technology to be offered as an option during the third year of a more general curriculum. Thanks to her work, a new profession was born. Since then, thousands of veterinary technicians graduated from several Quebec colleges which changed the quality of care given to animals.
In 1975, she became the owner of Clinique Vétérinaire de Longueuil, then moved to Guelph to study for a Master of Science in veterinary virology and epidemiology. She also managed a family-run advertising company and for the last 10 last years of her career, she represented a veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Markham.
She also did translations, became an international feline judge and bred purebred cats for several years. She is co-founder of Club félin de Montréal (1974) and has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Cat Association for more than 40 years.
Dr. Laliberté is at the source of many premières as a veterinary woman. Here is a brief list: •
- She was the first to publish books such as Manuel de travaux pratiques en microbiologie for student nurses with Dr Raymond Roy. We must not forget to mention the successful books about dogs and cats: Le Guide du chien et de son maître, Le guide du chat et de son maître, Toutes les races de chats et Mon chien champion ;
- She was the first freelance author of a weekly column in La Presse from 1974 to 1982;
- She was the first woman to insure a regular presence on radio and television with over hundred veterinary columns;
- First woman elected on the Board of les Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec (OMVQ);
- Co-founder and first director of Vétérinarius official magazine of OMVQ;
- First woman recipient of Médaille de St-Éloi, the highest recognition awarded by OMVQ;
- Recipient of Victor award from the Quebec veterinary historical society (SCPVQ);
- Recipient of Damase-Généreux Award from AMVQ.
In 1968, when she graduated, young Diane, a native of Saint-Georges-de-Beauce, was hired at the Montreal Veterinary Hospital in Montreal, where a big surprise awaited her.
Her boss, Dr. Lucien Desmarais announced that she will be leaving for six months in the United States. She does not speak a word of English and is parachuted to Pasadena, California in Dr. Stansbury's famous Cat Clinic – he is a veteran of the Korean War, veteran's son and brother and author of numerous books and articles on feline health.
Without knowing it, she became the first Quebec veterinarian to go to the United States to "improve". Upon her return, she joined the team at the Northern Veterinary Hospital where she worked until the 1980s before founding the Clinique vétérinaire d'Auteuil in Laval.
Upon graduation in 1968, Anne Bousquet, a Valleyfield native, was offered the opportunity to temporarily replace a biology teacher at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu high school. Where she stayed for 32 years!
This does not prevent her from working in the veterinary practice. In 1970, she founded the Veterinary Clinic Anne Bousquet. She is the first woman in Quebec to become the owner of her own veterinary establishment. While continuing her education, she receives clients and makes home visits.
In the early 80s, she gave herself a short break from the practice to take care of her daughter Isabeau and then took over the calling by opening the Veterinary Office Saint-Luc that she sold in 1990. She still continued to practice for many years.
Last fall, she did a good twenty hours a week at the Hôpital Ami-fidelite in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. To date, she holds the record for the mostvof years of practice for a female veterinarian in Quebec.
And, we have, tonight, the chance to have it with us! I invite you to warmly applaud Dr. Anne Bousquet who is accompanied for the occasion by her husband, Mr. Jacques Des Groseillers, as well as their daughter Isabeau Bousquet-Des Groseillers and her partner Yan Helstrom.
For the occasion, the president of the AMVQ, Dr. Jean Gauvin will give him a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
During the last 50 years, more than 2,000 young Quebecers have followed the three pioneers, Drs. Bousquet, Gravel and Laliberté, and have broken all the glass ceilings of our noble and beautiful profession.
Your passion, your devotion and your empathy coupled with your knowledge, your meticulousness and your determination have changed our approach to animals. Thanks to you, veterinary medicine is now full of humanity. For that and all your accomplishments, we are immensely thankful.