The Qualman-Davies Arthritis Consumer Community Leadership Award was created in 2014 to recognize one person’s contributions to helping all Canadians living with the disease to be heard in decision-making processes that affect millions. That’s what Ann Qualman and Jim Davies did as early pioneers in arthritis advocacy in Canada. Their tireless and selfless efforts helped millions of Canadians.
Ann Qualman and Jim Davies believed this simple premise. Ann recognized its importance as she built her career in international development, first as a junior project officer with the UN, then as a consultant with the World Bank, Canadian International Development Agency and many non-governmental organizations. She retired in 2005 with field experience in 15 countries and a wealth of maintained contacts and relationships. At 33 Ann was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis and added national and international arthritis advocacy to her activities. She co-founded and was President of the Association des arthritiques de Quebec, President of the Association de arthritiques de Montreal, served on The Arthritis Society Board of Directors (PQ), co-founded and was the first President of the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance, an OMERACT volunteer, and active with the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Review Group.
Jim Ivor “Jim” Davies joined the RCAF in 1940s as a bomb squadron observer. Shot down on his 13th mission, he spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps. As the senior Allied Officer he led a successful escape across the German border and into Russia. Following the war he was attached to the RCAF Staff College, was posted to Israel as Defence Attache, returned to The National Defence College, Ottawa, and then served as Base Commander, Toronto. He retired with the rank of Lt. General. Jim lived with osteoarthritis and in the 1980s, he became an active arthritis advocate. Known for his integrity and ability to engage others, he served as President of the Ontario Arthritis Society, and volunteered with the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group, The Council of Health Research in Canada, and the National Liaison Committee of the Canadian Blood Service.
Jim and Ann’s considerable experience, diplomatic skills, their friendly natures and absolute conviction of the need for research and better care for Canadians with arthritis were instrumental in the establishment of CIHR-IMHA, and of CAN-NCE. We honour them and their legacy of principled and determined advocacy, their understanding that bringing solutions to the table trumps bringing problems, and their wisdom in promoting shared and informed decision-making. Their achievements have benefited us all.