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2003 Recipients

Nicole Demers
Laval, Quebec

Nicole Demers has devoted her life to advancing the status of women and defending human rights. Active in the union movement, she drafted the first collective agreement for women in the hotel industry and lobbied to give women access to positions that traditionally went to men - jobs that paid better and often came with benefits. In her extensive volunteer work, Ms. Demers strives to improve the lives of society's most vulnerable, particularly women, senior citizens and youth. She has volunteered at the first shelter for women living with the human immunovirus (HIV), and started a soup kitchen in Acton Vale, Quebec. In addition, she helped found the Acton Vale women's centre, one more of many organizations that benefiting from Ms. Demers' insight and energy.

Eira "Babs" Friesen
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Eira Friesen is a legend in the Winnipeg community. Earlier this year, she was inducted into the Order of Canada and received the Queen's Jubilee Award as well as the Medal of Merit from the Girl Guides of Canada, the Paul LeJeune Volunteer Service Awards from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, and the 50th Anniversary United Nations Global Citizen Award. She is a YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction—devoting over 45 years to the Winnipeg YWCA and the YMCA-YWCA of Winnipeg, and the driving force behind the Y's Women's Resource Centre. Babs has been active with the local and provincial Councils of Women and is the Manitoba representative to the National Council of Women of Canada Development Organization.

Joyce Sandra Hayden
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

Joyce Hayden's contribution to women's rights and history in the Yukon is unparalleled. Ms Hayden served as a member of the Legislative Assembly, worked as a freelance writer and editor, established her own publishing house and found time to engage in ground-breaking community service. She wrote and published a history of the Yukon Girl Guides and the history of Yukon political women. Ms. Hayden initiated the first Yukon feminist and family programming, including a feminist consciousness-raising group that led to a Yukon women's conference; and was a founding member of both the Yukon Status of Women Council and the Yukon Women's Mini-Bus Society. She has been legally blind since 1983.

Jennifer Hustwitt (Youth Award)
Waterloo, Ontario

A first year university student, Jennifer Hustwitt has been an outstanding volunteer in both her school and community. In 2002, she travelled to Nicaragua to help build one of two schools, raising more than $35,000 in support of the project. Thanks to Ms. Hustwitt's efforts, the Waterloo Region District School Board became the first public board in Canada to have an ethical purchasing policy to ensure manufacturers of school clothes are not "sweat shops" exploiting women and children workers. Ms. Hustwitt has received many accolades and awards for her outstanding school- and community-service work, receiving the Zonta "Young Women in Public Affairs" award and the YMCA Peace Medallion in the International Category.

Marilou McPhedran
Toronto, Ontario

Named one of Canada's 10 most influential feminists, Marilou McPhedran remains undaunted by backlash to her systemic change strategies for health and equality. As a lawyer, legal counsel, spokeswoman and single mother of two sons, she has been tenacious in using the law to advance national and international women's human rights. Committed to collective action, Ms. McPhedran co-led the unprecedented grassroots campaign to entrench women's constitutional equality in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, strengthening sex equality in Section 15 and winning the "Equal Rights Amendment" of Section 28, then co-founded the Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), to set positive precedents. She is the youngest lawyer ever appointed to the Order of Canada.

Jayanti Negi
Calgary, Alberta

Jayanti Negi came to Canada in 1972. Noting the lack of support available to immigrant women, particularly those experiencing abuse, she set about to create change, making a tremendous difference in the lives of countless new Canadian women and men. A resident of Edmonton, she co-founded the Indo-Canadian Women's Association, the Millwoods Welcome Centre for Immigrants and the Alberta Network of Immigrant Women. She has served as a board member for the Edmonton Multicultural Society and Race Relations Council, and the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada. She is a powerful force in eradicating racism, sexism and violence, creating a better quality of life for all Canadians, and a more welcoming home for newcomers to Canada.

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