The Spirit is Alive & Well
School of Dental Hygiene marks 50 years of graduates and education
Back in the early 1960s, the landscape in and around 780 Bannatyne looked a little different than it does today. The College of Dentistry building was just starting to emerge in the midst of what was still a largely residential, community neighbourhood. The University of Manitoba’s Bannatyne Campus was still in relative infancy and had just welcomed its newest arrivals: the College of Dentistry building, which opened in 1961, and within its confines the brand new School of Dental Hygiene. Like its dentistry counterpart, the School of Dental Hygiene was unique in western Canada. Few schools of its kind existed anywhere. It was, for all intents and purposes, a small seedling in the university garden.
Two years after its opening, in 1965, the school celebrated its very first class of graduates. This past October — now 50 years later — the school celebrated this milestone achievement with the Spirit of ’65; the largest open alumni reunion ever held by the school.
Staged at the brand new Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the event drew one of the biggest crowds ever to attend a school function. “Events like this are important because we really want to connect back with our alumni,” school director Mary Bertone said in welcoming all to the event. “We want you to be proud of your education and want to be connected. To do that, it’s important that we look back and recognize the work that has been done for us.”
Held in conjunction with Alumni of Distinction Weekend, the Spirit of ’65 welcomed school alumni from throughout its 50–year history. And attend they did with at least one person from almost every year of the school’s existence turning out for the Saturday afternoon celebration.
In addition to a tour of the new museum, alumni and guests enjoyed fine food and fellowship on the sixth floor of the impressive museum building. However, the highlight of the evening came with a tribute to Dr. Marnie Forgay, the founding director of the school.
Many of the speakers cited Dr. Forgay’s ability to motivate students of the school and change the way they looked at themselves and their profession of choice.
“It was in the classroom setting under Marnie’s inspiring leadership that I was first exposed to the notion of the occupation of dental hygiene as something beyond a group of skilled practitioners,” said Ellen Brownstone of the Class of 1976. “The composition of the occupation was much more complex in that it was multifaceted. This was a tremendous influence on my own thinking. I developed such a sense of pride in becoming a dental hygienist and a greater understanding of where this occupation might lead. Throughout my teaching career I tried to emulate Marnie’s qualities as an educator and darn, I am still trying.”
Prof. Bertone noted that the school and the profession has progressed largely due to the efforts of pioneers and trailblazers such as Dr. Forgay.
“We are so fortunate in the profession of dental hygiene and where we are going because of the work of so many individuals,” she said. “And, as you have heard, Marnie is one of those individuals as are so many others who are here who have laid that foundation to help us move forward.”