Mary Parchewsky

Traveling to Saskatoon from a small town in Saskatchewan, Mary Parchewsky began her nurses training in September of 1950 at St. Paul's Hospital. Mary loved residence life and feels she owes St. Paul's for the educational experience that they gave her. She says at the time she may not have enjoyed all of the strict rules and regulations governing her, but she looks back now and realizes that her experience there fostered in her a sense of self-discipline.

After graduating, Mary worked in obstetrics for a few years before signing up for a course in labour and delivery in Jersey City. She stayed at the training hospital for a number of years after she finished the course and became head nurse for the night shift. Mary remembers her time in the United States as one where she traveled and learned quite a bit. However, when her mother became ill with tuberculosis in 1957, Mary came back to Saskatchewan to take care of her mother. She returned to St. Paul's Hospital for work and within two months was made head nurse on her ward. At that time, hospital nurses were forming Staff Nursing Associations (SNAs); Mary became the president of the St. Paul's SNA.

When the Supreme Court decision was handed down that the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses' Association could no longer provide collective bargaining services for nurses, Mary became the chair of the nurses' bargaining committee. At the time, she had been taking an industrial relations course. She went to her professor and asked for advice as to what to do in this situation. Her professor gave her two options: one, nurses could decide to join an existing union, or; two, start their own organization. The nurses decided that they would create their own organization in January of 1974. The next decision was what the new union would call itself. Mary remembers there being a name suggested that was quite good, but abbreviated to SIN. After quite a few suggestions, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) was selected as the new union's name.

Mary was elected first president of SUN. At that time, the SUN presidency was to be done in addition to any work in hospital. Mary worked as a nurse the entire time she was SUN president.