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Maureen Kempston Darkes
Maureen Kempston Darkes is a long-time advocate for women. In 1983, she co-founded the General Motors of Canada National Women's Advisory Council. It serves as a forum for addressing women's concerns about the work-life balance and barriers to their success, and to challenge the corporation to support women's career advancement. Under her leadership, the Council has been instrumental in opening doors for women. A true role model and woman of achievement, Maureen Kempston Darkes is the first woman to serve as President of General Motors of Canada Limited (GMCL). After graduating from the University of Toronto Law School, she joined the GMCL legal team, advancing into increasingly senior positions in the corporation's American and Canadian offices. By the 1990s, she had become GMCL Vice President of Corporate Affairs, a member of the Board of Directors, and General Counsel and Secretary. A dedicated volunteer, she chaired major gifts for the Women's College Hospital Fund-Raising Campaigns and co-chaired the British Columbia Cancer Foundation's Millennium Campaign. In 1997, she received the Order of Ontario and in 2000, the Order of Canada. In 1998, the American Bar Association honoured her with the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. In 2005, she received the R.V.A. Jones Canadian Corporate Counsel Award. She hails from Toronto.
Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador
Joyce Hancock has spent nearly three decades as an advocate and activist for women's equality, equity and inclusion. A strong proponent of grassroots economic development and social justice, Ms. Hancock served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Newfoundland and Labrador Advisory Council on the Status of Women from 1996 to 2006. An inspired feminist leader, she also helped organize and co-chaired a national coalition of provincial and territorial Advisory Councils on the Status of Women; helped guide a provincial ministerial committee on violence against women; worked with the Premier's Council on the development of a social audit as well as on integrated social and economic policy and regional decision making; and organized a successful lobby for provincial funding to women's centres. She assisted with the formation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Elizabeth Fry Society and the Women in Resource Development Committee, which works to increase women's participation in resource-based training and employment. Under Ms. Hancock's leadership, the Advisory Council spent 2000 visiting women in communities throughout the province; brought hundreds together in a conference entitled Exploring Common Ground; and coordinated participation by women and women's groups in the World March of Women. She was a founding member of the Bay St. George Women's Council and served as Executive Director of the Council and Coordinator of the Bay St. George Women's Centre in her home community of Stephenville from 1985 to 1996. In 1994, Ms. Hancock was chosen by OXFAM Canada to serve as a peace monitor/election observer in South Africa's first post-apartheid elections. A mother of two adult children, a daughter and a son, she now lives in St. John's.
Vancouver, British Columbia
As an award-winning journalist, educator and publisher, Doreen McKenzie-Sanders, Executive Director of Women in the Lead Inc., has dedicated herself to advancing equality for women. Her focus is the business world, where women hold only 11.2 percent of board-of-director positions in Canada's top 500 companies (Catalyst, 2003). She is also the driving force behind Women in the Lead/Femmes de Tête directory. The third edition has just been published. Women in the Lead Inc. is a unique Canadian non-profit corporation dedicated to creating and promoting this national directory listing the résumés of over 550 women whose professional expertise and experience make them ideal candidates for appointment to corporate boards. Ms. McKenzie-Sanders began her career while still a teenager, writing for The Vancouver Daily Province newspaper. Today, her career spans six decades and includes many milestones, such as being the first woman to publish and edit Business Quarterly, a management magazine formerly published by the Ivey School of Business, and the first woman elected to serve as president of the Business Press Editors Association and as a board member of the Canadian Business Press Association. As an educator, Ms. McKenzie-Sanders created, and for 15 years, taught a course in magazine publishing at The University of Western Ontario, where she was also appointed to the Native Peoples Program in Journalism. For many summers, she taught the Radcliffe Publishing Course, Harvard University. Ms. McKenzie-Sanders has served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations including the YWCA/YMCA and the Thames Valley Children's Centre. Ms. McKenzie-Sanders, who is a member of the Order of Canada and holds numerous achievement awards, lives in Vancouver.
Throughout her long and distinguished career, Jan Reimer has worked tirelessly to promote safe communities and ensure the well-being of society's most vulnerable members – seniors, youth and women in abusive relationships. Since 2002, she has served as provincial coordinator of the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS), which represents 41 women's shelters across the province. Ms. Reimer has helped propel the organization into a leadership role on issues of family violence in Alberta and enhanced awareness and support for ACWS through her innovative approaches to advocacy. Prior to ACWS, she worked as a consultant, developing, among other things, the Senior FriendlyTM Program, now being implemented across Canada. Ms. Reimer has also worked diligently to support First Nations shelters in Alberta in developing a strategy to address the large disparity in funding between First Nations shelters and provincially funded shelters. An alderman for nine years, Ms. Reimer went on to serve as Mayor of the City of Edmonton from 1989 to 1995. During her two terms in office, she undertook a number of strategic initiatives, including: the Mayor's Task Force on Safer Cities, a Youth Advisory Committee, a diversity initiative, an economic development strategy, the Mayor's Task Force on Investment in the Arts and equitable hiring practices. Ms. Reimer lives in Edmonton.
Seema Shah (Youth Award)
Recipient of the 2006 Youth Award, Seema Shah has dedicated herself to advancing gender equality by advocating for women with disabilities, and women who have experienced various forms of abuse. Ms. Shah has represented disabled and abused women in their claims to the Social Benefits Tribunal and Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and provides victim witness assistance to women. She has engaged in various legislative reform and public education efforts in areas of health law, policing and mental health to improve the quality of life for these women. Presently a third year student at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, in 2001, Ms. Shah coordinated fundraising for the Riverdale Immigrant Women's Centre. She helped to plan the 2002 International Women's Health Meeting. In 2003-2004, as chair of McMaster University's Gender Equality Committee, Ms. Shah directed the White Ribbon Campaign to end violence against women. In 2005-2006, through her work with Probono Students Canada, she created a ground-breaking legal information booklet to help Afghan women access legal advice on issues such as domestic abuse, divorce and child custody. A recipient of numerous academic and community achievement awards, Ms. Shah lives in Markham.
For over 25 years, Charlotte Thibault has worked both in volunteer and paid work to advance equality, and to build bridges between the women of Quebec, and women in the rest of Canada and around the world. Through her dynamic leadership on the board of directors and as co-president of the Canadian Women's Foundation, Ms. Thibault was instrumental in building the organization and establishing its solid reputation as the only national public foundation dedicated to women and girls. She has also served as executive director of the Association des collaboratrices et partenaires en affaires and the Fédération des femmes du Qué;bec. As a volunteer, she has dedicated her expertise and vision to the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and the World March of Women, to name only a few of the organizations that have benefited from her contributions. She has trained people in Canada and internationally in the use of gender-based analysis and has advocated its use. Ms. Thibault played a significant role in representing Canada in the international women's movement from the preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China in 1995, to its follow up and beyond. Ms. Thibault lives in Montréal.
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