150+ Canadians Day 65: Rosalie Bertell

Sister Dr. Rosalie Bertell contributed to peace through her writing and speaking about the dangers of radiation. #Canada150

Sister Dr. Rosalie Bertell, (1929-2012), a member of the religious community of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, was an outstanding scientist and prolific author. She is best known for her work in the field of ionizing radiation.

A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Bertell worked in environmental health from 1970. She was a consultant to both American and Canadian government departments in the areas of environment, health and nuclear regulation. Sister. Bertell was President of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health from 1987 to 2004. She also founded the International Medical Commission Chernobyl in 1996 and was a member of the International Medical Commission on Bhopal (India).

Between 1985 and 2005 Bertell appeared in 5 documentary films, including the National Film Board production Speaking Our Peace. In this film she challenges the audience to come to terms with the fact that an insidious ‘death process’ underlies the arms race.

“Wars results in immediate deaths and destruction, but the environmental consequences can last hundreds, often thousands of years. And it is not just war itself that undermines our life support system, but also the research and development, military exercises and general preparations for battle that are carried out on a daily basis in most parts of the world. The majority of this pre-war activity takes place without the benefit of civilian scrutiny and therefore we are unaware of some of what is being done to our environment in the name of ‘security.”

Bertell published numerous articles and was editor of the journal, “International Perspectives in Public Health. She wrote the books No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth (1985) and Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War (2000).

Over her lifetime, Bertell was the recipient of numerous awards, including: the Hans- Adalbert-Schweigart-Medal (1983); Right Livelihood Award (1986); World Federalist Peace Award; Ontario Premier’s Council on Health, Health Innovator Award (1991); United Nations Environment Programme Global 500 Award; and the Sean MacBride International Peace Prize.

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