Profiles of Wisdom

Portrait of Yvonne Atwell

For over forty years, Yvonne Atwell has engaged in community development and social change. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Halifax-based Community Justice Society.

Portrait of Kathy Sheldon

Photo courtesy of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Kathy Sheldon chaired the first Women's Institute Conference held in NL and was a member of the governing body of the Associated Country Women of the World from the 1970s to 1986.

Portrait of Mary Lou Stirling

Photograph courtesy of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women

Mary Lou's extensive work on provincial and national boards to address systemic discrimination against women was always guided by the question, "Is it fair?"

Portrait of Viola Robinson

Photo courtesy of The Nova Scotia Office of Aboriginal Affairs

Viola Robinson is a long-time advocate for Mi'kmaq people and the advancement of Aboriginal and treaty rights in Nova Scotia and Canada.

Portrait of the activist

Believing in the power of well-informed rural women to make social change in their communities, Elizabeth (Betty) Lacey used persistence and leadership skills to expand the educative work of the Women's Institutes, but she worries about the future with so much competition for women's community development work.

Portrait of Olive Bryanton

For over 25 years Olive Bryanton's name has been synonymous with consistent and informed advocacy for senior citizens, and especially the development of new services and ideas for better social policies; but younger generations also command attention because of her belief in better inter-generational understandings.

Portrait of Joan Hicks

In addition to national and local level activism for the advancement of feminist agendas, Joan Hicks helped Nova Scotians of all walks of life realise how collaboratively-planned public library-based social development activity could be challenging and empowering.

Portrait of Shannie Duff

Shannie Duff's work as a municipal and provincial politician continues to focus on well-informed and multi-faceted advocacy and public education for democratic decision-making around built and natural heritage environments, urban planning, regulatory frameworks and social development of downtown St John's.

Portrait of Phyllis Artiss

Photo courtesy of Memorial University of Newfoundland

Phyllis Artiss took every opportunity she could to help university students, especially Aboriginals and internationals, toward better academic success but she also tackled equity issues affecting women academics, linked women's studies with community-based living conditions, and gave significant service to municipal and provincial feminist organizations.

Portrait of Madeleine Gaudet

Early training in workplace union skills transformed Madeleine Gaudet into a focused and persistent activist and public educator regarding all aspects of nurses' working conditions. Her presidency of the N.B. Nurses' Union and then her management of its labour relations office did not end her activism; today she maintains active advocacy for and leadership with seniors' issues.

Portrait of Stella Lord

Stella Lord's deepening understandings of social justice issues and goals as they relate to capitalism, patriarchy, and colonialism have supported her own activism via university teaching, community development projects, funded policy analyses, scholarly writing, and the re-development of key feminist and anti-poverty groups in Nova Scotia.

Portrait of Sue Rickards

Sue Rickards's advocacy work and provincial policy development regarding economically sustainable communities have reinforced her principle of paying very close attention to how the grassroots understand their lives and see solutions.

Portrait of Carolyn McNulty

The driving force behind establishing the widely respected Romero House Soup Kitchen in 1982, Carolyn continues as its Executive Director, keeping a warm and sustaining place for her valued clients but constantly seeking enough resources to meet their needs.

Portrait of Angelina Martz

Photograph courtesy of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception, Saint John, NB.

Sr. Angelina (Angie) Martz is known for her incisive public comments, especially in print media, on various matters of social justice near and far. Community development and social peace are inextricably linked, as Angie argues when she explains how societal dynamics work against better living conditions for those in need or act to waste or neglect precious natural resources.

Portrait of Sister Joan O'Keefe

Photograph courtesy of The Sisters of Charity - Halifax

A social justice and anti-poverty activist, Joan O'Keefe won Sister of the Year in 2001 and currently provides support to pregnant women as a volunteer doula.

Portrait of the activist

Edith Perry (left) receives the PEI Women's Institute Life Membership award from Diane DeJonge in 2010. Photo courtesy of PEI Women's Institute.

From an early age Edith Perry realized that she had to work toward equal rights and opportunities for the economically disadvantaged and silenced as well as develop the skills to examine, with a critical mindset, the many levels of impact of social injustice.

Portrait of Kathrine Bellamy

Photo courtesy of Memorial University of Newfoundland

A much loved music teacher, Cathedral organist and choir leader who believed in the power of music to help people break through self-imposed limits and develop their capacities, Kathrine Bellamy's activism extended to facing up to the challenges in combating the social results of extreme poverty in St John's.

Nancy Riche worked to great pioneering effect in provincial, national, and international trade union organizations as a self-declared unionist, feminist, and socialist strategist, but read on for more detail and stories about her discreetly-applied strategies needed to overcome entrenched patriarchal attitudes and outdated workplace policies.

For her work in defending Acadian language and culture, Mary Bouchard's many awards include the Order of Canada and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.

Portrait of Marian Perkins

Marian Perkins' pioneering public education and advocacy regarding alcohol addiction and her work for the rights and better care of women inside and outside of the prison system called for skillful approaches to those in power.

Portrait of Maria Bernard

In 2002, Maria Bernard won the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award from the PEI Advisory Council on the Status of Women for achievements in working for the equality of women.

Photograph courtesy of the Secretary of the Order of Nova Scotia, N.S. Protocol Office.

Sister Dorothy Moore's activist work covers an impressive span that includes First Nations preservation of language, education, and human rights.

Portrait of the activist

Photograph courtesy of Brian Townsend. Mary's Point in background.

Mary Majka's decades of principled, passionate and successful activism for the protection of the natural and built environments and educating the public about their heritage has earned her many significant awards but she remains vigilant, for new threats and new opportunities abound.

Portrait of Ann Bell

Ann Bell's nurses union experience honed her leadership and political skills for addressing women's legal disadvantages and their lack of representation in public policy discussions, later expanding into many other issues that emerged while she led the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women during its crucial first years.

Portrait of Ann Brennan

Refusing to live by the "wife of" conservative attitudes towards rural women, Ann Brennan claimed her own goals and worked to revise national agricultural policies, break through political barriers to build cultural relationships amongst Canadians and the Irish (in Northern Ireland and Ireland), and respond to local community issues.

Portrait of Shirley Chernin

Shirley's six decades of volunteering include the design and management of five major social programs, advocacy for community issues and support for six health programs.

Portrait of Betty Peterson

In 2000, Betty received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax "for lifetime work to bring about a more humane and just society for all of us."