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Dr. Heather ONYETT
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DR. HEATHER ONYETT, BAH (Toronto), DTM&H (Liverpool), MPH (Johns Hopkins), FRCPC, FAAP, Professor Emeritus, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada Dr. Heather Onyett's earthly pilgrimage ended on January 6, 2020. Dr. Onyett was born and raised in northern Ontario. These early personal experiences with remote communities had a profound influence throughout her life. After graduating with an Honors degree in Modern History from the University of Toronto, she spent two amazing, life-changing years as a volunteer with Canadian University Service Overseas teaching in French in rural Burundi, Africa. This experience opened her heart to the importance of medical care in remote and/or impoverished communities. Upon returning to Canada, she graduated from the new medical school at Memorial University of Newfoundland as their first pediatrician. She then spent over five incredible years as Chief of Pediatrics with the International Grenfell Association as the solo pediatrician providing primary, secondary and tertiary care for the Aboriginal, Inuit and settler children living in remote communities of northern Newfoundland and Labrador. Her commitment to Global Health issues had been an important factor in her professional and personal life for over fifty years. She studied Tropical Medicine, receiving the Gold Medal in International Community Health from the School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Liverpool, England. She completed her Masters of Public Health degree at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA, and was inducted into Delta Omega Alpha, the National Honorary Public Health Society. She became a Pediatric Infectious Diseases specialist of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This enriched her clinical and public health knowledge and skills when she spent vacations volunteering as a pediatrician in rural under-resourced areas including Liberia, Kenya, Uganda, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Cambodia and Vietnam. In 1987, Dr. Onyett joined the Faculty of Medicine at Queen's University, becoming a tenured Full Professor of Paediatrics, Microbiology and Immunology, Community Health and Epidemiology, Rehabilitation Therapy, prior to becoming Professor Emeritus in 2012. She founded the Infectious Diseases service. For the first three years she was the only Infectious Diseases specialist for adult and pediatric patients. As a clinician for twenty-five years, Dr. Onyett organized specialty clinics in Tropical Medicine and Travel Health, provided General Pediatrics coverage for inpatients, Emergency Department and on call. For ten years she was also Director of the Regional Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Onyett served on numerous Queen's University, national and international committees, including President of the Medical Staff of the Hotel Dieu Hospital, Kingston. She was Chair of the Infectious Diseases Curriculum Committee of Queen's University, Chair of the Education Committee of the Canadian Infectious Diseases Society, a member of the Canadian Advisory Committee on Tropical Medicine and Travel, a member of the Indian, Inuit and Metis Committee, the Injury Prevention Committee, and the Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Paediatric Society. As an educator, Dr. Onyett was a trailblazer. She developed and taught numerous undergraduate, graduate and Continuing Medical Education courses in Infectious Diseases, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Critical Care at Queen's University as well as International Maternal and Child Health courses in the Master's program at Queen's University and at Boston University School of Public Health. She developed and taught the first Canadian medical school undergraduate course in International Maternal and Child Health. She travelled to Guyana, South America during the summers to evaluate the students' Community Health Projects and to develop and present at Canada-Guyana medical conferences. She was Guyana Program Director for Health Volunteers Overseas/American Academy of Pediatrics International Volunteer Outreach to recruit pediatricians to teach at the new University of Guyana medical school. As Professor Emeritus, Dr. Onyett, developed and taught courses to 'Train the Trainers' on 'Saving Lives - Preventing Disability' at the Bangladesh Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed as a member of the Queen's University Centre of Excellence in Community Based Rehabilitation CIDA Muskoka Initiative. Dr. Onyett had been honoured to receive numerous teaching awards including the inaugural Queen's University Faculty of Medicine Excellence in Teaching Award, Boston University School of Public Health Summer Excellence in Teaching Award for Maternal and Child Health in Lower Income Countries. In 2016 she received the Life Membership Award of the Canadian Paediatric Society for 'tremendous dedication to advancing the health of children in Canada'. Dr. Onyett was blessed to serve as a clinician-educator mentoring hundreds of health care providers to provide excellent compassionate patient care and disease prevention in challenging regions of the world.

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Published in The Globe and Mail from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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24 entries
November 18, 2021
Dr. Onyett was a Canadian medical hero who was truly selfless and led a remarkable life by anyone´s standards. It was an honour and a privilege to have known her.
Patricia Payne
May 12, 2021
I just found out and my heart is very heavy doctor onyett was an amazing wonderful lady she saved my daughters life and she was so committed to making my daughter healthy. She even at one time had her car broke into and she left it took a cab to be at appointment on time.,another time my daughter missed pizza day at school so doctor onyett bought her a pizza to make up for it . These are just a couple of things this wonderful woman did . She is very well respected and missed not a day goes by I don't look at my daughter and think of doctor onyett.And know my baby is here because of her. May you rest in peace
Teresa Hatch
August 6, 2020
I was a volunteer at the Curtis Memorial Hospital in St Anthony Newfoundland, when Dr Onyett was paediatrician there. She was a joy to work with. She was compassionate and sensible and kind and encouraging. I remember that, on one occasion, I was taking the service in the Hospital chapel which was being broadcast over the tannoy system. The person who was meant to be giving the talk didn't turn up and i had to wing it. Dr Onyett was so kind and encouraging of my rather stuttering contribution!

I am deeply saddened to hear of her death.
Michael Lloyd
August 2, 2020
So sorry to hear of your loss. Our son/brother would not be here today if it not for the selfless care of Dr. Onyett. She will remain in our hearts forever. Sincerely, Kenny family
June 13, 2020
God bless your kind soul !!!
Victor Chee Lee
January 31, 2020
O my gosh! What an accomplished individual. So sorry to hear of her passing . I only knew Heather from school in Kapuskasing and never once followed her in her remarkable career. She must have truly touched and improved the lives of so many. Bless her and Rest In Peace.
Dennis Rossi
January 28, 2020
Dr. Onyett's family included her students and patients. She was influential in directing my path in infectious diseases and a guiding light to all in our profession. Her slide shows of viral exanthems and communicable diseases were legendary in Queen's Meds circles! A true mentor and legend to the Queen's University community - she will be missed - but continues to be a shiny star watching over all of us. Thank you for all you did for medicine, paediatrics and public health Dr. Onyett - Condolences to the family - Sincerely, Dwight Ferris, Queen's Meds '96
Dwight Ferris
January 28, 2020
Dr. Onyett gave so much to her patients, learners, colleagues, the medical community, me personally and our Department of Pediatrics at Queen's. Her dedication is so well described in the memories posted on this page. May she Rest in Peace.
Richard van Wylick
January 27, 2020
An excellent pediatrician who through her dedication and commitment inspired all who knew and worked with her. Above all, Dr. Heather Onyett was truly an exceptional human being.

I consider it an honour and a privilege to have known and worked with her.
Perin Sankar
January 27, 2020
Dr. Heather Onyett was a great, compassionate pediatrician who will be sadly missed. Our condolences to her friends and family. Jean and Bob Hilliard
Robert Hilliard
January 27, 2020
Deepest condolences to the family. She was an amazing doctor, I believe she saved our son. May she Rest In Peace.
Ana Bernardino
January 27, 2020
A beautiful Human being, truly selfless, giving beyond measure, and humble, I am a better Nurse and person for having known Dr. Onyett, as are all she cared for.
I have never known anyone quite like her, her caring , compassionate ways transcended the norm. A fierce advocate for her patients, her vast knowledge and background made Dr. Onyett such a great Physician and Teacher.
A true privilege to have been able to work with her.
She gave of herself in ways many never knew.
You earned your wings long before you entered the Gates of Heaven Dr. Onyett.
God Bless your family.
Much Love and Respect,
Susan Dawson Nichol
January 27, 2020
I am grateful to Kathleen Lewis for letting me know of Heather's
passing on January 6. Heather and I were classmates at Victoria
college, U of Toronto, 1963-67, and became very close. While
she was in Burundi with CUSO (1967-1969 or so) we kept in
touch and I was deeply impressed by her decision to go back
to high school in order to qualify for medical education after
she had seen the needs in Africa. Her life was one of amazing
professionalization and service to the most needy - I saw her
rarely over all the years, but did keep in touch by e-mail

especially in recent years. Her Christian faith underlay the
remarkable dedication shown in all her service to the most
needy, whether indigenous peoples in Northern Newfoundland
and Labrador or those needing care in developing countries
around the world. What an inspiration is her legacy to all those
who were blessed to know her and to receive her care. I can see
her now in Heaven, receiving the message, "Well done, good and
faithful servant!" from Ruth Hayhoe
Ruth Hayhoe
January 27, 2020
Like everyone who knew her, I remain profoundly grateful to have been inspired and mentored by her throughout my life and career. She will be missed by so many.
Anna Majury
January 27, 2020
I am saddened to hear of Dr. Onyett's passing. I had the privilege of knowing her through my work at the Kingston Public Health Laboratory. Her dedication to her patients was unsurpassed. She will be missed by all her knew her.
Cindy Froats
January 27, 2020
Heather was special - never giving up when hard issues had to be tackled , seeing problems when others preferred not to see and always working hard to ensure what was done was of high quality. Despite health issues that made her life more difficult - she never complained. She was an excellent clinican , teacher and public health champian . She will be much missed for her quiet but strong dedication to making a difference in maternal child health both in Canada and abroad.
Noni MacDonald
January 26, 2020
I fondly remember working with Dr Onyett in the Critical Care Unit at KGH.She was so knowledgeable and her kindness and caring for her patients and their families was paramount.
She practised medicine in such a compassionate way; she certainly made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of people over the years.
Maureen Teevens
January 26, 2020
I feel very fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Onyett from 1992-1997 on the Paediatric ward at Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston. Dr. Onyett was so caring and kind. I have so many stories I could tell. One that struck me when I thought of her today was that she often took patient charts to her office on Brock 3. She had taken one that I needed so I walked over to her office to get it. She had recently fractured her ankle and had a cast on. There was a lounge lawnchair there. I asked her if she was sleeping on it and she said that she spent some nights in the hospital as it was too hard to go home alone with a broken ankle. I offered to get her a cot from the ward. She refused saying she wouldn't take one that a parent could use. Dr. Onyett's humility inspired me throughout my career. She was a Saint and will be missed.

Karen Wolfe, RN
Karen Wolfe
January 26, 2020
Truly saddened to hear of Dr.Onyett'spassing. I had the honour and privilege to work with her over the many years she practiced Pediatric Medicine at HDH and KHSC. She was an incredibly generous person and educator. RIP Dr. Onyett
Sue Merkley
January 26, 2020
Heather was a huge influence and inspiration to me, and to the other students she mentored. She was so humble about her work and achievements... and always delighted in the successes of others. I am a Pediatrician because of her. I will miss the bright twinkle in her eyes, warm smile, and her awesome suit collection. I am so privileged to have worked with her. Although her loss has left a big whole in the world, she made an enormous impact that will continue to ripple out for years to come. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.
Shannon Wires
January 26, 2020
Dr, Onyett was one fo the most amazing physicians I had the pleasure of working with. She was kind, gentle, and brilliant, a true joy
Sharon McLaughlin
January 26, 2020
As a Queens Peds alumnus I am sad to hear of this. She was a tremendous inspiration and source of encouragement for me well beyond the residency period.
Hirotaka Yamashiro
January 25, 2020
Hello Marsha, I am so sorry about the passing of Heather and so incredibly in awe of her achievements. I do not know of anyone else with this record of service to others. What a loss to humanity. Our moms went to Normal School together in North Bay and were lifelong friends. I remember us getting together as kids in Sault Ste Marie and having spoken to you after your mom's passing. My mom (Althea Snowdon) passed away seven years ago so I guess the chapters keep ending. I hope you and your family members are well.
Madelyn Reynolds
January 25, 2020
She was a wonderful physician and colleague. Her patients & their parents were always grateful for her care. She was a selfless person who practiced medicine with profound empathy. Rest In Peace Heather.
Gerald Evans
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