"Health is the Increased Becoming
of Who We Are Most Deeply."

Author Unknown.

Dr. van Daalen-Smith
Director of the Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Studies | Program Website
Associate Professor:

School of Nursing, Faculty of Health | School Website
School of Gender and Women's Studies | School Website
Children's Studies Program | Program Website

Cheryl van Daalen-SmithDr. van Daalen-Smith teaches community nursing, women's health and child-centred nursing for the school of nursing. She is cross-appointed to the school of women's studies where she "viscerally enjoys" teaching mature students in the evening as they return to school. She's also created electives in girls' studies and women and madness. There, she is also the founder of a hub focusing on girlhood studies. Recently, she's been appointed to the Children's Studies program within the division of Humanities, and brings her unique rights-based lens to children's health and quality of life.

A well-known feminist nurse whose practice is rooted in social justice, her agenda is always emancipatory. For example, her work regarding children's rights in health care settings is cutting edge. Her research exploring girls' anger broke down barriers between service providers and the girls and young women they serve. One of her professional goals is to transform how children and youth are viewed and believes that they should be viewed as citizens worthy of both voice and choice.

She is a respected community health and pediatric mental health nurse. As founder the Ontario and Canadian Pediatric Nursing Associations, van Daalen-Smith's dedication to collaborative leadership is evident. Her goal was to root pediatric nursing practice in the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the child so as to ensure children's voices were listened to, valued and acted upon. A belief that children have rights has always been central in her many consultancies, invited leadership roles and nursing practice.

van Daalen-Smith speaks of bearing witness to children and youth during her years as a public health nurse and has taken those "privileged experiences" into her classrooms, feminist research with children and youth and her appointment as a special advisor on the Canadian coalition for the rights of children. Her master's work explored women's self esteem, feminist research, feminist pedagogy and girls experiences with physical education. Her doctoral work explored the lived experience of anger in the lives of diverse girls and young women- the first and only study of its kind in Canadian nursing.

Her areas of interest and scholarship include women's self esteem, young women and anger, girl's experiences with shame in physical education, children's rights in health care, electroshock, the rights of psychiatric survivors, Animal-Human Bonding and the healing of spirit injuries, understanding homelessness from a critical social theory perspective, feminist nursing practice, feminist pedagogy, eco-therapy, and the relationship between oppression and mental health.

She has volunteered as a street nurse in Toronto, visited isolated seniors in Halton Region for a decade and now accompanies her welsh corgi 'Gigi' in her role as a therapy dog. Ever socially minded, she is part of the 2010 inaugural group founding an Environmental Action group for Ontario's Registered Nurses. She speaks fondly of her years in partnership with students in their journey to become socially active professionals at York University in Toronto, Canada.


  • BScN (Child and Family Specialty) - Ryerson, Toronto
  • MA - University of Toronto (OISE), Toronto
  • PhD - University of Toronto (OISE), Toronto

Current Research

  • 1. Women's Experiences of Psychiatric Hospitalization in Canada
  • 2. The Mental Health Impact of the Animal-Human Bond:
    • a. Service Dogs' Mental Health Impact on their Human Companion