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Allison Brewer has worked tirelessly for equal rights for all people, particularly those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities. From New Brunswick to Nunavut, Ms. Brewer's work in journalism, the labour movement and volunteerism has often focused on human rights and social justice issues. The mother of three children, including a son with Down's Syndrome, she has long advocated for people with disabilities. Founder and former manager of the Morgentaler Clinic in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Ms. Brewer strongly defends a woman's right to choose. In her role as Vice-President of the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council, Ms. Brewer worked to promote the equality rights of women and girls in Nunavut . Recently, she led the campaign in support of the Nunavut Human Rights Act; legislation that includes protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Ms. Brewer continues her work through her involvement as a founding member of Iqaluit Pride and Friends of Pride, and her support for legal recognition of same-sex marriage.
Led by the desire to give women access to training that allows them to fulfill their potential and use their expertise, Léa Cousineau works to ensure the presence and representation of women in all aspects of the municipal decision-making process. In her role as a leader on the Executive Committee of the City of Montréal and on the Public Security Commission of the Montréal Urban Community, Ms. Cousineau has opened many doors for women to participate in non-traditional roles in the City of Montréal through an employment equity agreement with the city's labour unions. She was instrumental in changes to the Montréal Police Service, leading to the hiring of more women police officers and a more transparent and community-friendly approach to policing. She was also a member of the Status of Women Council and Associate Deputy Minister responsible for the status of women in Québec where she supported the establishment of a programme analyzing differentials between genders and a grant programme enabling Quebec women to maintain involvement in regional development. She is currently a member and chair of the Workplace Partnerships Commission in Québec.
Moncton, New Brunswick
Huberte Gautreau has spent her life working for the rights of women and disadvantaged groups, particularly in her home province of New Brunswick. A nurse and teacher by profession, she has carried these skills and extended them to help families living in violence, including co-founding Carrefour pour femmes, a Moncton shelter for women and children victims of domestic violence. Recognizing the need to provide counseling and guidance to men inclined to violence, Mme Gautreau is a co-founder of the Groupe Option for this purpose. She was a sexual and gender harassment counselor, as well as an international solidarity education coordinator at the University of Moncton. She also lent her expertise to the development of AIDS and Hepatitis informational videos directed at those living in incarceration. Mme Gautreau was Chair of the Pay Equity Coalition in New Brunswick and established the New Brunswick Committee for the World March of Women, of which she was the Francophone Chair. Mme Gautreau continues her advocacy for pay equity in New Brunswick and currently serves as the spokesperson for the Concerned Citizens Committee for Peace/Comité pour la paix, a militant committee against Canada's participation to the US national missile defense system.
Bonnie Sherr Klein
Vancouver, British Columbia
Bonnie Sherr Klein, a pioneering filmmaker, focuses on social justice issues and giving voice to those who are ignored or misrepresented, including women, persons with disabilities, and young people. Ms. Klein has created many documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada, most notably in Studio D, the Women's Studio. Her 1981 film Not A Love Story: A Film About Pornography launched the dialogue on the subject of pornography. She co-directed Speaking Our Peace, which explores the position of women towards peace and power. In 1987, while in her mid-forties, Ms. Klein experienced a devastating stroke that left her with residual disabilities. She shared her rehabilitation process through various articles, award-winning radio productions, and Slow Dance: A Story of Stroke, Love and Disability. Ms. Klein has been recognized with an honourary doctorate from Ryerson University. She is co-founder and volunteer artistic advisor for the Society for Disability Arts and Culture, which produces the KickstART Festivals. She is currently directing her first film in the seventeen years since her stroke, about artists with disabilities. She lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband Michael; they have two children, Naomi and Seth.
Chi Nguyen (Youth Award)
Chi Nguyen is a recent graduate of McGill University where her interest in Canadian politics unfolded when she founded Women in House in 2001. This program matches students with a female political leader in a two-day job-shadowing experience in Ottawa. Ms. Nguyen has also been active in many community initiatives from educating young women about their sexual health to improving their political knowledge and democratic participation. Currently, she sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Women's Health Network and the steering committee of a new national foundation on reproductive health in Canada: Canadians for Choice. Her latest project was an on-line initiative called Young Women Vote: The 20,000 Project that hoped to encourage as many as 20,000 young women to pledge to vote. In 2001, she co-authored St. Stephen's Community House's The Little Black Book: A Guide to Sexual Health for Grrrls by Grrrls. Already a YWCA Young Woman of Distinction Award winner in 1999 for her work on Venus Magazine and for her community work in Toronto, Ms. Nguyen has and will undoubtedly continue to make an impact on women's and gender equality.
One of Canada's leading political journalists, Rosemary Speirs is also the founder and chair of Equal Voice/À Voix égales. This is an influential national advocacy group for the election of more women to every level of government in Canada. Equal Voice members include elected politicians and political activists in every major political party and every region of the country. Ms. Speirs has also founded the Women's Political ConneXion that links women's groups and prominent individuals across Canada to support the cause of electing more women. In representations to the Law Commission of Canada, Ms. Speirs called for electoral law reforms to create a fairer Parliament based on proportional representation. On behalf of Equal Voice she also pressed for voluntary affirmative actions by political parties to greatly increase the number of women nominated to run for political office. In 1994, Ms. Speirs wrote the brief to the Electoral Reform Commission of Canada that was later reflected in election financing reforms in 2003. Through her continued work, Ms. Speirs and Equal Voice make Canadians aware of successes achieved and the many barriers to equal representation that still remain.
The Famous 5 are a group of Canada's democratic champions and Frances Wright has enjoyed bringing these magnificent nation builders and their achievements into the hearts and minds of Canadians and others! These remarkable feminists inspired Frances to establish the Famous 5 Foundation (1996) and honour these heroes and other women. Through her leadership, the F5 have been celebrated with larger than life bronze monuments on Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in Olympic Plaza in Calgary, youth programs, an education guide, textbooks, a stamp and a new $50 bank note also featuring Therese Casgrain. Together with remarkable volunteers and corporate sponsors from across Canada, Frances is following in the footsteps of the F5 and has only just begun to enable both women and men to contribute to the building of Canada. Along with others, Ms. Wright is striving to restore Canada's national anthem to be inclusive by changing the words to "True patriot love, in all of us command!"
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