In May 2008, a proposal was submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care by The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation (PMHF) in partnership with Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) and University Health Network (UHN). The proposal was submitted in an effort to create an oncology nursing knowledge translation centre and build capacity across the province.
With proceeds from the 2008 Brazillian Carnival Ball already going to nursing education at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ivan de Souza - husband of the late philanthropist Anna Maria de Souza - saw an opportunity to build on this support and bring specialized oncology education to all Ontario nurses. UHN, PMHF and CCO offered to oversee the creation of the new learning centre and provide infrastructure and resources.
The proposal was approved by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in June 2008 and the de Souza Institute was created. The Institute relies on the guidance and support of its founding partners to deliver innovative continuing education, mentorship and fellowship programs to nurses across the province.
Anna Maria de Souza was a distinguished philanthropist and volunteer in Toronto. Born in San Sebastiao do Paraiso, Brazil, she passed away at Princess Margaret Hospital in September 2007, after a courageous battle with cancer. For over 42 years she worked selflessly in various fund-raising activities to benefit a number of charitable institutions across Canada.
Mrs. de Souza's efforts raised over $53 million for various deserving institutions, mostly located in the City of Toronto, and mostly in the area of health care. Her principal commitment was the Brazilian Carnival Ball, which she founded in the basement of a church in 1966. Each year, the Ball attracts over 1,800 guests and raises over $2 million net, making it the largest charitable fundraising gala in Canada.
Every year, a different charity is selected as the beneficiary of the Ball's proceeds. In 2008, the proceeds were dedicated to oncology nursing at Princess Margaret Hospital. These funds became the catalyst for the creation of the de Souza Institute.
Anna Maria de Souza was granted many awards and honours for her charitable work: the Queen's Medal of Honour, awarded by the Governor General of Canada; the Order of Rio Branco, awarded by the President of Brazil; the Arbor Award, presented by the University of Toronto; and the Civic Award, presented by the City of Toronto.
Her dedication and contribution to philanthropy and the people of Ontario was further recognized in May 2008 when the Government of Ontario announced a $15 million grant to establish the de Souza Institute.