In 1963, wearing her occupational therapy uniform made up of a white cap with a forest green band, a brown leather belt and forrest green dress, Kate Coffman gave a demonstration of Occupational Therapy in rehabilitation to a group of visiting physicians at the Ridgwood Rehabilitation Centre in Saint John. In the photo to the right, she is explaining treatment of an injured hand with various hand-made tools and devices (i.e. sander, padded hammer, splint). Coffman recalls this was the first time these physicians had seen this kind of occupational therapy for workmen.

By 1967, the New Brunswick Society of Occupational Therapists (NBSOT) was formed with eight members. In 1973, New Brunswick took their turn among the Atlantic provinces to host their first OT Atlantic Conference in Saint John. Twenty-six therapists were in attendance. A newspaper quote marked the occasion:

"Therapists joined to discuss mutual problems faced by occupational therapist in these provinces. These problems are lack of knowledge of the profession by the general public, chronic, shortage of staff, and the difficulties of recruiting young men and women to the profession due to lack of training facilities in the Atlantic region." (unknown source)


By 1977, the Parliamentary Act came to fruition and the New Brunswick Association of Occuaptional Therapists (NBAOT) was formed to administer it.

1980s-90s

In 1980, a bilingual (french and english) terminology booklet was published for occupational therapy. To continue meeting demands, much needed therapy departments were opened in 1982 in major centres along the north shore of the province. In Moncton, the first community occupational therapist was employed at the newly established Extra-Mural Hospital.

During this same year, seven students from New Brunswick were enrolled in the long-awaited School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie Univeristy in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With seats reserved for each of the Atlantic provinces, these students made up the first contingent of New Brunswick graduates.

By 1986, there were approximately 50 practicing occupational therapists registered in New Brunswick. In 1987, Saint John played host to the CAOT conference welcoming therapists from across Canada to discuss key issues affecting the profession. Unfortunately, Evalyn Fleiger passed away in the months before this conference would take place. At an awards ceremony held in 1994, an award in her honor, The Evalyn Fleiger Award, was granted to Dinah Stocker in the presence of Evalyn's family.


Content contributed by Kate Coffman courtesy of NBAOT Archives from "NBAOT’s contributions to the 60th Anniversary Calendar for CAOT" Copyright © 1986.