Jeanne Mance (1606-1673) was a French settler and co-founder of Ville Marie, which later became Montréal. She was the first lay nurse in North America and established the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal (the first hospital in North America). The Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph, founded in France and dedicated to the care of the sick, joined Jeanne Mance in Montréal in 1659, where members of the congregation still carry on the work she began. The Hôtel-Dieu continues as one of Montréal's great hospitals.
Jeanne was called the "Angel of the Colony" by the people she served. Under her able administration the hospital flourished and the colony grew from 40 original settlers to 1500, often in spite of overwhelming odds. More than once her courage and her talent for obtaining money, support and volunteers saved the colony from financial ruin or destruction in Iroquois raids.
Since 1971, the Canadian Nurses Association has honored a nurse or nurses at its biennial convention and annual meeting with the Jeanne Mance Award. The nurses nominated for this prestigious award are individuals who have made significant and innovative contributions to the health of Canadians. They have worked to increase the public recognition and awareness of the nursing profession and have positively influenced nursing practice in Canada and abroad.