One feature of G78’s 40th anniversary of its original public statement in 1981 has been to salute the 78 individuals who signed the letter addressed to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The activity continued a project of the 25th anniversary in 2006 when G78 produced a booklet to remember with respect and affection those of the original signatories who had passed away as of that time since the signing. It contained brief obituaries of these individuals. The booklet was edited and mostly written by Clyde Sanger, himself one of the Originals.
For the 40th anniversary, we took on a similar project – to remember those of the Originals who had subsequently passed on between 2006 and the present. As there are currently (May 2022) only 14 of the original 78 remaining with us, we decided to include brief accounts of their lives as well. The Group of 78 is grateful to Amélie Lauzon, a graduate student at the University of Ottawa, for her diligent work of research and composition in crafting the biographies.
These links present all 78 in four sections:
- The 2006 booklet “To Seek a Better World” – brief biographies of 41 signatories who had passed on. (Note that the booklet includes 43 names. The editor, Clyde Sanger, “took the liberty” of adding two names who did not sign the original statement by the “deadline” when it went to press.)
- Remembrances of 21 signatories of the Original Statement of the Group of 78 who left us between 2006 and 2022
- Remembrances of two signatories no longer with us for whom we found little information [If anyone can help us with more information or a complete obituary, please contact us at email@example.com.]
- Remaining 14 Signatories of the Group of 78 (as of May 2022)
Remembrances 2006-2022 of Signatories of the G78 Original Statement
Marion Dewar (née Bell) was one of Canada’s most prominent political figures of the 20th century. During her lifetime, she advocated for peace, justice, nuclear disarmament, refugees, visible minorities and gender and sexual equality. She championed quality public services such as affordable public housing and childcare. She implemented a plethora of initiatives and proved that change at the local level could have a national impact.
Marion was born in Montreal and raised in Buckingham, in the Outaouais region of Québec. In 1949, she obtained her nursing degree from Saint Joseph’s School of Nursing in Kingston and later studied nursing science and public health at the University of Ottawa. In 1951, she married Ken Dewar, with whom she had five children. She periodically practised as a nurse until 1971.
She officially entered politics at the municipal level in Ottawa in 1972, serving as an alderman for Britannia Ward. In an interview, she said she chose municipal politics more by accident than by plan; that she simply wanted to give it a try. In 1974, she was elected as deputy mayor, and from 1978 to 1985, she served as Ottawa’s second female mayor. During her tenure, she declared Ottawa a nuclear-free zone, and helped sponsor over 4,000 refugees from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam through Project 4000. The latter initiative snowballed across the country and bolstered the refugee quota from 8,000 to 50,000. Dewar even opened up her own house to citizens in need. Under her mayoralty, she ensured that her policies met citizens’ needs and improved their quality of life. In an interview, she stated: “We have a social responsibility to ensure that the interests of cultural minorities and the disadvantaged are not sacrificed to short-sighted budgetary decisions. Services which are vital to the health of our community are not negotiable”.
In 1985, she opted out of municipal politics to join the New Democratic Party, where she served as its president until 1987. Even after retiring from politics, her fight for a better world continued. From 1989 to 1992, she was the Executive Director of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth, and in 1995, she served as the National Chair of Oxfam Canada. She also volunteered with several organizations, including the Ottawa Women’s Credit Union.
In 2002, Dewar was made a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2000 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa. Although she died after an accident in 2008, her legacy lives on: a scholarship was created in her honour “to foster academic and leadership excellence in immigrant and refugee youth”. The Rideau Centre – now a vital component of downtown Ottawa – was championed by Mayor Dewar, who pushed through the deal to construct it, despite vocal opposition. The Marion Dewar Plaza, adjacent to Ottawa’s City Hall, is also a standing reminder of her mark on the city.
Robert Gordon Lee Fairweather was a leading human rights activist and politician. During his lifetime, he fought for same-sex marriage, abortion rights and bilingualism. He advocated on behalf of people with AIDS or with a physical handicap, and was a vocal proponent against capital punishment. His work helped shape the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Gordon was born in Rothesay, New Brunswick, in 1923. He left his hometown in 1940 to attend the University of New Brunswick. There, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He married Nancy Elizabeth Broughall a year after the war ended, with whom he had three children. He obtained his Bachelor of Civil Law in 1949 and was admitted to the New Brunswick Bar later that year. He then moved to Toronto to earn his doctorate at Osgoode Hall Law School.
From 1952 to 1962, he was both a lawyer and a member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, representing King’s County, an area that includes his hometown of Rothesay. He also served as the Attorney General of New Brunswick from 1958 to 1960. In 1962, he opted into federal politics as an elected Progressive Conservative for the riding of Royal. He was re-elected five consecutive times, the last of which was in 1974. Although a Tory, Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed him to be the first Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Fairweather occupied this post for ten years, during which he helped affirm Canadian ethics through contributions to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1987, he was appointed the founding Chairman of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, retiring in 1992. During his career, he was also an official observer of elections in El Salvador, Guatemala and Malaysia, and led the Canadian Delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 1984, 1985 and 1986.
In 1978, Fairweather was awarded the Order of Canada, and in 2005, he was awarded the Order of New Brunswick. In 1990, he received an Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service; in 1997, the Tarnopolsky Award for fostering human rights; in 1999, the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year Award (New Brunswick Branch); and in 2002, the New Brunswick Pioneer of Human Rights Award. He also held seven honorary degrees from the University of New Brunswick, York, Queens, St. Thomas and St. Francis Xavier. He died in December 2008, at the age of 85.
It is difficult to encapsulate Ursula Martius Franklin’s life in just 400 words. A renowned feminist, human rights activist, author, educator, and pioneering scientist, Franklin’s multi-faceted achievements made her one of Canada’s most accomplished professors.
Ursula was born in Munich, in 1926, to a Jewish mother and a Lutheran father. While she was pursuing her studies in chemistry and physics at Berlin University, she was expelled by the Nazis and sent to a forced labour camp for 18 months (whereas her parents were sent to a concentration camp). Fortunately, all three survived, and Ursula resumed her studies, earning her Bachelor’s degree in 1946 and her Ph.D. in experimental physics in 1948. She once stated in an interview that she chose to study science because its subjects couldn’t be state censored. In 1949, she immigrated to Canada to pursue the Lady Davis postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto. There, she married engineer Fred Franklin, a German immigrant. Together, they had a son and a daughter, and joined the Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1964.
She began her distinguished career in 1952 as a research fellow for the Ontario Research Foundation. She was promoted to senior research scientist and occupied this post until 1967. In the early 60s, she studied the levels of strontium-90 radiation in children’s teeth, which played a pivotal role in the cessation of atmospheric weapons testing in 135 countries. In 1967, she became a researcher and associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science. There, she became a pioneer in the field of archaeometry by discovering how to date bronze, copper, ceramic, and glass artifacts. In 1984, she became the first female to be given the designation of University Professor, the University’s highest title. From 1987 to 1989, she served as director of the University’s Museum Studies Program. Following her retirement, she and a handful of coworkers sued the University of Toronto for the gender wage gap. In 2002, 60 retired faculty women received compensation as a result. In 1989, she delivered the Massey Lectures, where she spoke about the social impact of technology. Throughout her career, she unequivocally advocated for peace and justice in all dimensions of life.
Franklin’s honours and awards are too numerous to list here. Most notably, a Toronto high school and street were named after her, and she held 40 honorary doctorates. She was also named Companion of the Order of Canada in 1992, was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 1990, and was awarded the Pearson Peace Medal in January 2002. Latterly, she was inducted into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in 2012. She died in July 2016 at the age of 94.
E. Margaret Fulton
Ethel Margaret Futers Fulton was a leading activist during Canada’s ‘second wave’ feminist movement. Her work as a teacher and administrator helped achieve lasting change for women in politics and education, here and abroad.
Margaret was born in Brittle, Manitoba, in 1922, just one year before women were constitutionally recognized as “people”. She began her career as a teacher in a one-room school near her hometown, a post she occupied from 1942 to 1953. In 1955, she earned her BA from the University of Manitoba. She then obtained her MA at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1960 and her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 1969. She taught literature at Wilfried Laurier University for seven years, until she was offered the position of Dean of Women at UBC in 1974, where she had been an Adjunct Professor since 1969. She kept this position until it was eliminated in 1978 but remained an Adjunct Professor at UBC until 1996. From there, she was appointed President of Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), in Halifax, a post she held until her retirement in 1986. During both her tenures, she vigorously fought on-campus sexism and cleared a curricular space for women’s issues. Notably, she helped shape MSVU into a “centre for feminist scholarship and for community interaction”. Her institutional feminism served a pivotal role in cementing Women’s Studies as a core program in universities across the country. She solidified this new vision abroad by becoming Vice-Chair of the Women’s World Summit Foundation and by joining numerous other organizations fighting for women’s rights. At the early stages of her career as an educator, she discovered her talent for public speaking, a skill she used to advocate for gender equality, peace, justice, and the protection of nature.
In recognition of her lifework, Fulton was awarded 15 honorary degrees, including one from the University of Winnipeg in 1985. She was also named an Officer in the Order of Canada the same year, received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. She died in 2014 at the age of 91.
James George was a renowned Canadian diplomat, peace activist, and environmentalist. He devoted most of his life to the practice of Buddhism, and his peaceful worldview was evident in all aspects of his life.
George was born in 1918 in Toronto and was a young man when World War II began. In the 1930s, he studied at Toronto’s Trinity College, at Harvard University as a Littauer Fellow and later at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Later, he joined the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, starting off as an Ordinary Seaman and retiring as a Lieutenant Commander. He also acted Naval Historian during this period and married the mother of his three children, Caroline, in 1942.
Between 1951 and 1955, he acted as the Permanent Canadian Deputy Representative at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York and was a member of the UN Disarmament Commission. From 1955 to 1957, he was Deputy Director at the Intelligence Division at External Affairs in Ottawa. From 1957 to 1960, he was the Permanent Deputy Representative at NATO in Paris.
George then served as High Commissioner of Canada to Sri Lanka (Ceylon) from 1960 to 1964. While occupying this post, he became the first-known Canadian to ever visit Bhutan. Between 1966 and 1967, he served as Minister at the Canadian Embassy in Paris. He served again as High Commissioner of Canada from 1967 to 1972, this time in India, and simultaneously served as Ambassador to Nepal. During this period, he was involved in diplomacy aimed at curtailing the conflict between India and Pakistan in 1971. He finished his diplomatic career as Ambassador to Iran and the Gulf States between 1972 and 1977.
In his retirement, he dedicated most of his time to ecological and spiritual issues. Importantly, he co-founded the Threshold Foundation, which mobilizes “money, people and power to create a more just, joyful and sustainable world”. Under George’s direction (1978-1982), the organization helped bring about a moratorium on high seas whaling and a ban on all whaling in the Indian Ocean and the Antarctic. In 1984, he co-founded the Anwar Sadat Peace Foundation, which advocates for international peace and security, with a focus on the Middle East. In 1985, he co-founded yet another organization, the Rainforest Action Network, to promote conservationism.
In 2008, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters by Trinity College of the University of Toronto. He died in February 2020 at the age of 101.
Paul Gérin-Lajoie was a leading political figure during Québec’s ‘Quiet Revolution’ in the sixties. His work transformed Québec’s educational system from ecclesiastic to secular and orchestrated some of the province’s first international-relations policies.
Paul was born in 1920 in Montreal to a prominent family. He obtained his Law degree from the Université de Montréal in 1942 and was admitted to the Québec Bar a year later. In 1948, he received a Doctorate of constitutional law at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, then returned to Québec to practise law. To counter the nationalistic positions of his local newspaper, he founded the weekly L’Écho de Vaudreuil-Soulanges et Jacques-Cartier in 1957, in which his wife, Andrée, wrote a column for women.
After three unsuccessful federal campaigns, he was elected as a provincial member of the Legislature representing Vaudreuil-Soulanges in 1960. He immediately served as Minister of Youth and, in 1964, became Deputy Premier and Québec’s first Minister of Education, holding both positions until 1966. During his mandate, he secularized the educational system, ensured that all Quebecers had access to free public education, improved teacher training, established the secondary education network, and made it mandatory for Québec Youth to attend school until age 16. In 1967, he created CEGEPs, a unique post-secondary educational system, and in 1968 he established the Université du Québec. Parallel to this, he was a pioneer in the Francophonie concept, developing lasting ties with several French-speaking countries.
He left politics in 1970 to be President of the Canadian International Development Agency until 1977. Under his leadership, Canada’s annual budget for international development grew from $350 million to over $1 billion. He then established the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation, with the main objective of helping children in poorer countries get access to quality education. In 1969 and 1970, he was a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa and, from 1970 to 1975, at the Université de Montréal. He was also the founding Chairman of the International Trade Committee of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM), which gave birth to the Montreal World Trade Centre, and the first President and CEO of the Old Port of Montreal Corporation. The latter transformed the disused port facilities into a park and cultural developments along the St. Lawrence River.
Gérin-Lajoie received close to 40 awards and honours, including 13 honorary doctorates. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1979 and became Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 1998. A Montreal high school was named in his honour. He died in June 2018 at the age of 98, a few months after his wife.
Emmanuel Maynard Gertler was a pioneering publisher, a tenacious human rights activist and an avant-garde farmer. He is largely responsible for introducing Québec literature to the English-speaking world and a variety of crops to Canada.
Maynard was born in Montreal in 1916 and was an avid reader from a young age. His Austro-Hungarian parents fled to Canada shortly before the First World War, and his father opened up a furniture store in Montreal, where Maynard worked. Since he was denied access to McGill University because he was Jewish, he opted to study mental and moral philosophy at Queen’s University, graduating in 1939. He then enrolled at Colombia University and became a US citizen. When the Second World War began, he was hired as an economist for the US government under both Roosevelt’s and Truman’s administrations. He was drafted into the army following the Pearl Harbor attack, which became a pivotal moment for him as he realized that free thought is not encouraged in such settings. After the war, he worked as a research director for a documentary film production company, but he decided to immigrate to England due to the rising intolerance to socialist thinking in the US. There, he taught history at Cambridge University and took an interest in certain crops that hadn’t yet been commercially produced on Canadian soil.
He moved back to Montreal in 1959 and founded his own publishing house, Harvest House Ltd., which had been described as “a one-man university press”. He published translations of French-Canadian books criticizing Duplessis’ government and Québec’s educational system. This helped increase awareness of Québec’s troubled political situation to the outside world. He influenced other publishers to follow suit in translating Québécois literature into English, even if there was little money in doing so. In 1995, he sold Harvest House to the University of Ottawa Press.
Gertler is also a former Vice-President of PEN Canada, a former president of the Canadian Chapter of Amnesty International, a former director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Union and a former board member of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation. He and his wife Ann were active members of the G78 during all of its early years. In 2002, he became a member of the Order of Canada and received a Queen’s Alumni Achievement Award. He died in April 2011 at the age of 94.
Fr. Roger Guindon
Father Roger Guindon was a priest and administrator who greatly helped transform the University of Ottawa into a world-class public institution. He was also a catalyst behind the University’s famed bilingualism. Cumulatively, he spent more than 70 years on the University of Ottawa campus.
He was born in Ville-Marie, in Northern Québec, in 1920. He enrolled at the University of Ottawa to finish his secondary studies in 1933, obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy in 1942 and a Bachelor of Theology in 1945. In 1946, he was ordained a catholic priest, and a year later, he became Dean of the Faculty of Theology while also serving as a lecturer. In 1964, he stepped away from the Faculty of Theology to serve as the University’s Rector, a function he occupied until 1984.
His presidency oversaw the construction of 15 new buildings, including the core of the health sciences and medical campus, which was named in his honour in 1985. This project was achieved in partnership with the Government of Ontario, and required a substantial fundraising campaign, something that Guindon achieved with admirability. This project also gave birth to the Ottawa Hospital General Campus, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and the Royal Ottawa Regional Rehabilitation Centre. He named Morisset Hall and Library in tribute to his uncle. Guindon also allowed thousands more students to gain access to the University and ensured that the student body was given seats on the University’s Board of Governors and Senate. Overall, he enabled the University to grow in an unprecedented way.
He held 9 honorary doctorates, including one from the University of Ottawa and a Doctor of Laws from Trent University. He was also a fellow at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1973, was awarded the Order of Ontario in 1987 and was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec in 1996. He died in November 2012 at the age of 92. Although as a Roman Catholic priest he never married and had no children, he did “father” a school.
Jacques Hébert was an adventurous journalist, a seminal publisher, an influential advocate for youth, and a former senator. His work helped reform the Québec educational system and aided thousands of young Canadians to make a difference here and abroad.
Jaques was born in 1923 in Montreal, and at the age of 16, he began attending the University of Prince Edward Island (then Saint Dunstan’s University). There, he learned English, just as his father had done years before him. He embarked on a journalist career for Le Devoir in 1951, through which he travelled the world. In 1954, he was a reporter during the Wilbert Coffin trial, where a Quebecer was hanged for being accused of killing three American tourists. He subsequently published three books where he accused the Québec government of using Coffin as a scapegoat to protect the tourism industry. These eventually led to the provincial government establishing a Royal Commission to investigate the case in 1964. During the same year as Coffin’s trial, Hébert also launched his own weekly newspaper, Vrai, to expose Duplessis’ misdeeds and the corruption within Montreal’s City Hall. In 1958, he founded his first publishing house, Les Éditions de l’Homme, and joined the editorial board of Cité libre, a magazine opposing Duplessis’ autocratic-style of leadership. In 1961, he founded his second publishing house: Les Éditions du Jour. He published Les Insolences du Frère Untel, which led to major educational reforms within Québec.
From 1962 to 1970, Jacques worked as a host and scriptwriter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), and from 1971 to 1981, he served as a Commissioner with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). In 1971, he founded Canada World Youth, which enabled over 20,000 young Canadians to participate in exchange programs in communities all around the globe. In 1977, he founded Katimavik, a youth program fostering volunteer work across the country, today counting over 36,000 alumni.
In 1983, he was appointed to the Senate and remained in office until 1998, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. In 1986, he went on a 21-day hunger strike to protest the defunding of Katimavik by the Mulroney government. Although the strike was originally unsuccessful, the youth program was restored in 1994, largely through his continuous efforts. After retiring from political life, he continued working for a number of causes, such as Duplessis orphans.
Hébert was awarded two honorary doctorates, was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978, received the Lewis Perinbam Award for International Development in 1995, was nominated for the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, and was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians in 2007. He died in December of 2007 at the age of 84.
Heather Erika Johnston was a devout ecumenist Christian, a justice-seeker and the founder of Oikocredit’s Canadian branch.
Johnston was born in Coelbe, Germany, in 1930. When her father was forced to choose between his faith and his nation, he chose the former and became “one of the founding members of the ‘Bekennende Kirche’ – the underground Church in Nazi Germany”. When the war ended, Heather Johnston became a translator for the Refugee Department of the World Council of Churches and later for the Lutheran World Federation.
She moved to Canada after marrying a Canadian Presbyterian minister, with whom she had three children. There, she continued to be heavily invested in the Church, and in 1975, she became the first Canadian woman elected to the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Central Committee. There, she helped to make the organization more inclusive with a program to combat racism, which ran from 1979 to 1983. From 1979 to 1982, she concomitantly served as president of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC).
In 1987, she founded the Canadian branch of the Ecumenical Development Co-operative Society (EDCS). This financial organization was established as a means to raise money in Europe to help promote small businesses in developing countries. Johnston adapted this concept to her vision, where instead of handing out money, the recipients would have to loan it with a small interest fee, which would then be reinvested to help more small businesses. She hired advisors on the ground to help these businesses thrive. The EDCS also supports fair trade, cooperatives and other means of ethical investing. A few years ago, the Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society (EDCS) changed its name to Oikocredit so that it could be the same in any language. Today, Oikocredit has invested more than 7 million dollars and counts a total membership of over 900 businesses. Thanks to Johnston, it is also an affiliate member of the CCC.
In 1995, she was the recipient Order of Ontario and Hamilton’s Woman of the Year. In 2012, she was given the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award. She was also “first woman and lay person to be conferred with the Honorary Doctor of Divinity by Knox College in Toronto”. She died in 2014 at the age of 84.
Gregory MacKinnon was a university professor, a university president, and a pastor. He was born in 1925 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he stayed until he earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Francis Xavier University in 1946. He moved to Halifax to attend the Holy Heart Theological Institute (formerly known as the Holy Heart Seminary), and later to New Waterford to serve as an assistant pastor at St Leonard Catholic Parish Church. During his last year there, he also served as spiritual director of St. Francis Xavier University. He subsequently attended the University of Ottawa, where he earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1961 and his Doctor of Sacred Theology in 1964. Following graduate studies, he returned to St. Francis Xavier University, where he was professor and Chair of the theology department until 1973, Dean of Arts and Director of summer school until 1978, and President and Vice-Chancellor until 1990.
Outside of academia, MacKinnon was involved in a plethora of organizations. From 1974 to 1976, he was a member of the Executive Council of the Association of Atlantic Universities and of Universities Canada (formerly the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada). Between 1975 and 1978, he was a member of the Academic Council of the Atlantic Institute of Education and President of the Atlantic Ecumenical Council. From 1982 until 1984, he served as Chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, and from 1992 until 1996, he served on the board of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. He was an honorary life member of the Atlantic Provinces Association for Continuing University Education and, for several years after 1993, he was Chair of the Atlantic branch of Responsible Gaming.
MacKinnon touched the life of countless people, making the world he left behind a better place.
Archbishop Alphonsus Penney
Archbishop Alphonsus Penney was head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s in Newfoundland for several decades. He was also responsible for launching a national inquiry into sexual abuse within the Church.
He was born in St. John’s in 1924. In 1949, he was ordained a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Saint John’s. Appointed as Bishop of Grand Falls, Newfoundland by Pope Paul VI in 1972, a year later, he received episcopal ordination by the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Canada. In 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Saint John’s.
While in the 1970s he protected some priests from accusations of child abuse, in 1989 he established the Archdiocesan Commission of Enquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Children by Members of the Clergy. The Commission submitted a 39-page report, which led to another committee writing a 700-page report. Following these publications, several priests were convicted of sexual abuse. The latter report also contained 55 recommendations submitted to Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic Church, many of which were adopted. This marked the end of the Church and the Government denying claims made by the victims.
In 1990, Penney resigned from his post as Archbishop after finding out the magnitude of the abuse within Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic Church. In his exit interview, he admitted to the CBC of a failure to the very people he was supposed to nurture and protect. He made a public apology to the victims and their families. He told the press, “I recognize the deficiencies in my handling of this matter. My leadership and administration have not been perfect”. Although the press demonized Penney for being the head of Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic Church during the sex scandal, it is undeniable that his calling of the Commission of enquiry had a ripple effect of healing for his entire community.
Penney gave life to a national movement and worked to end a terrible scourge within his Church. He died in December 2017 at the age of 93.
Beryl Alyce Plumptre (née Rouche) was a distinguished economist who fought hard to contain inflation and advocated for Canadian consumers during the 1970s.
Born in 1908 in Melbourne, Australia, she attended the Presbyterian Ladies College as a high school student and obtained a Commerce degree from Melbourne University in 1931. After graduation, she worked at the Bank of New South Wales for two years, then left to pursue graduate studies at Cambridge University after being awarded a scholarship. There, she was a student of John Maynard Keynes and studied economics alongside her future husband, Wynne. The pair married in Australia in 1938, and shortly after, they moved to Canada for him to pursue a position at the University of Toronto. Wynne had a fruitful career that brought their family around the Western world.
In the early years of their marriage, Plumptre was a housewife, supporting her husband and raising their children. She also worked briefly with the Prices and Trade Board and as an economic consultant to the Canadian Tariff Board, and volunteered for a number of organizations. However, it is her volunteer work as President of the Consumers Association of Canada from 1961 to 1966 that propelled her career as an economist. During her tenure, she motivated Pierre Trudeau to establish the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, making Canada one of the first countries to do so. Recognizing her potential, Trudeau appointed her Chair of the Food Prices Review Board in 1973. There, she tackled the skyrocketing inflation which was tremendously impacting Canadian households. In part because of her work, the Canadian inflation rate was stabilized. After the dismantling of the Board, she was appointed Vice-Chair of the Anti-Inflation Board until her retirement. She left her post to care for her husband, who passed away in 1977. Throughout her career, she made a point of not only reporting to the Government but, most importantly, to the Canadian public.
Following her husband’s death, Plumptre was elected Reeve of Rockcliffe Park from 1978 to 1985 and served as a member of the Regional Council of Ottawa-Carleton. She was also involved in several corporate boards, including Dominion Stores and Canada Life, and as chair of various non-profit organizations, including the Vanier Institute of the Family and the Kidney Foundation of Canada.
The Canadian economy greatly benefited from Plumptre’s work. She died in April 2008 at the age of 99.
Clyde William Sanger was an intrepid correspondent, a brilliant professor and a prolific author. His many years as a journalist informed the Canadian public on African and Canadian politics, the Commonwealth, international development and the environment. For over 25 years, Clyde was the G78’s conference rapporteur, pulling disparate conversations and a myriad of strong opinions together to weave the proposed resolutions together into a clear, coherent, elegant statement of positions for the Group to advance in the public arena. He was, in essence, “The Voice” of the Group of 78.
Clyde was born in Westminster, England, in 1928. He attended Twyford School from 1938 to 1942 and Shrewsbury School from 1942 to 1947, where he was school president. After graduation, he fulfilled his National Service by serving as a second lieutenant in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment on the Suez Canal. He then studied at Brasenose College of Oxford University between 1949 and 1952.
He began his journalism career working as a reporter for the Staffordshire Evening Sentinel, the London Evening News and the Daily Mail. He then moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1957 and became editor of The Central African Examiner, a magazine on politics and economics. In 1959, Clyde married journalist and activist Penny Ketchum, with whom he had four sons, and joined The Guardian, where he became the paper’s first Africa correspondent in 1960. His work covered news stories of a social, economic, environmental and political nature. During this period, he met a wide array of prominent African leaders.
Clyde moved to Canada in 1965 to work not only as a correspondent for The Guardian, but also for the United Nations and The Economist. He was also a parliamentary reporter for The Globe and Mail, and he regularly contributed to Gemini News Service. Outside of the media world, he served as a Governor of NewsConcern International Foundation, as Director of Information for The Commonwealth Secretariat, and as Director of Communications for the North-South Institute. Beginning in 1984, he served as a sessional lecturer with Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, and from 1992 to 2006, as an Adjunct Professor. In addition, he briefly served as an instructor at the University of Peace in Costa Rica.
After his wife’s passing in 2017, he donated to the Guardian News & Media Archive a treasure trove of his own notebooks, letters, files of cuttings, draft articles and reports created and maintained throughout his career, dating all the way back to the late 1950s. The full catalogue is available online. Additionally, he donated a large collection of books to Carleton’s Institute of African Studies and parts of his journalism collection to its Reader’s Digest Resource Centre in the School of Journalism and Communication. His legacy also lives on through the annual fellowship he helped to establish for early-career correspondents.
Clyde died in January 2022 at the age of 93.
John Sigler was an academic and a renowned researcher within Middle Eastern studies. He advocated for peace and conflict resolution over defence and security.
John was born in the early 1930s in Indianapolis. In 1953, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts with a major in International Relations from Dartmouth College, where he graduated as valedictorian. In 1960, he obtained his Master of Arts, majoring in Government at Georgetown University. In 1968, he earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California (USC). He was also a Fulbright Fellow in international law at the Université Grenoble, studied Arabic and Maghreb sociology at the Université de Tunis, and was Regents Scholar in Islamic Studies at UCLA, with visiting professor Jacques Berque.
From 1955 to 1968, John served as a US Air Force intelligence officer, both on active duty and in the reserve. During his two final years in the army, he was also an instructor at the School of International Relations at USC. From 1968 to 1971, he was hired at Macalester College as an assistant professor of political science. Later during his career, he was a lecturer for the Privy Council Office’s Intelligence Assessment Secretariat.
John moved to Canada in 197, after accepting a faculty position in international relations at Carleton University. There, he specialized in Canadian foreign policy and Canada-US relations. In 1974, his dedication as an instructor made him the recipient of the Ontario Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award. From 1977 to 1982, he served as the director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton. During his posting, he met General E.L.M. Burns, a former commander of UN truce supervision and peacekeeping forces between Israelis and Arabs. This encounter sparked Siegler’s interest in the Middle East, eventually leading to him becoming increasingly interested in the matter and founding a Middle East Discussion Group in Ottawa for visiting Middle East specialists.
In 1984, John became a co-editor and a writer for CIRCA, an annual bilingual survey of international conflict. He was responsible for the Middle Eastern section until his retirement in 1998. In 1986, he became an adjunct professor of political science at the University of Ottawa, also keeping this post until his retirement. Additionally, he served on the Boards of the International Studies Association, the Social Science Federation of Canada, the Peace Science Society, and Science for Peace
During his career, John also served as an advisor to the Canadian Ministries of National Defence and Foreign Affairs and the Canadian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. From 1983 to 1989, he was a Board member for the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament, and from 1984 to 1988, for the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security. He died in July 2021 at the age of 89.
Maurice Frederick Strong began his career as an oil tycoon and ended his days as an environmental activist. He helped found the Canadian International Development Agency and mobilized some of the most important international environmental conferences in history. His multi-faceted life culminated in a lasting legacy.
Born in Oak Lake, Manitoba, in 1929, Maurice grew up during the midst of the Great Depression. He finished high school at the age of 14 and, though he won a cash prize to help with the costs of University, he used this money to pay off his parent’s creditors.
Before starting his industrial and financial career, he occupied several contractual jobs all over Canada, including working in a northern trading post of the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1944. In 1945, he became an accountant for a mining group in Toronto. Quickly moving up the managerial ladder across multiple companies,he eventually became President of Power Corporation of Canada, a position he held until 1966.
He then was appointed by Prime Minister Pearson to establish what would become the Canadian International Development Agency, a position he kept until 1970. This enabled him to form ties with the United Nations, leading to an invitation by the then UN Secretary-General to lead the upcoming Stockholm Conference on the Environment as its Secretary-General and to become Undersecretary General of the UN responsible for environmental affairs. He used his diplomatic skills to launch the era of international environmental diplomacy, uniting 122 countries on this issue. Subsequently, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was created, and Strong served as its first Executive Director until 1976.
That same year, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau asked Strong to return to Canada to lead the newly established Petro-Canada, then a national oil company. He subsequently served as Chairman of the International Energy Development Corporation from 1980 to 1983 and of the Canada Development Investment Corporation from 1982 to 1984.
In 1985, he returned to the UN as an Under-Secretary-General, and in 1992 he played a momentous role leading the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Following this major success, he was deeply involved in a number of organizations over the rest of his life, including the Earth Council, the World Resources Institute, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Stockholm Environment Institute, and many more. From 1992 to 1995, he reinvigorated Ontario Hydro by lowering rates and increasing its environmental sustainability.
Maurice held 46 honorary doctorates and was made Companion of the Order of Canada in 1999. He died in November 2015 at the age of 86, right before COP 21 began in Paris.
Walter Surma Tarnopolsky was a legal scholar and judge who greatly contributed to the advancements of human rights and civil liberties within Canada.
He was born in 1932 in Gronlid, in Northern Saskatchewan, to parents of Ukrainian descent. He moved to Saskatoon to study at the University of Saskatchewan, completing his Bachelor of Arts in 1953 and his Bachelor of Laws in 1957. He then pursued a Master of Arts at Columbia University, graduating in 1955, and attended the London School of Economics, where he obtained his Master of Laws in 1962.
Walter was a skilled legal scholar who taught at several Canadian universities. His first appointment was at the University of Saskatchewan between 1959 and 1960. After having completed his MA, he taught at the University of Ottawa over two intervals, from 1962 to 1963 and then from 1979 to 1983. He repeated the same pattern at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, from 1967 to 1968 and from 1972 to 1979. During the second placement, he also briefly served as the academic Vice-President of York University. In between the two appointments at York, he taught at the University of Windsor, where he was also Dean of Law.
During and after his career as a Law professor, Tarnopolsky was heavily involved in pioneering a Canadian vision of human rights. From 1967 to 1968, he was the chairman of numerous boards of inquiry under the Ontario Human Rights Commission. In the 1970s, he helped draft the Manitoba Bill of Rights and other provincial human rights legislation. In 1978, he codified human rights at the federal level, namely by working on the Canadian Human Rights Act. From 1983 to 1984, he helped draft the Northwest Territories human rights code. In 1983, he was appointed judge in the Ontario Court of Appeal, on which he served until his death.
Walter was also involved in several human rights organizations; he served on the United Nations Human Rights Committee from 1977 to 1983 and was the president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from 1977 to 1982. He was an active member of the Human Rights Institute and, during the 1970s, the Committee for the Defence of Valentyn Moroz.
He died in September 1993 at the age of 61. The Tarnopolsky Award was named in his honour and is given each year “to a Canadian resident who made an outstanding contribution to human rights at a national or international level”. He also authored numerous legal articles and books, including The Canadian Bill of Rights (1966) and Discrimination and the Law in Canada (1982).
Murray McCheyne Thomson devoted his entire life to the original mission of the G78: stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons and advocating for world peace. He is also renowned for co-founding seven peace organizations from 1976 to 2012. Murray was one of the key partners, along with Andy Brewin, J. King Gordon and Robert McClure who together drafted the open letter to the government of the day, enlisted the support of 77 other signatories, and initiated the process that led to the creation of the Group of 78.
Murray was born in 1922 in Henan, China, to Christian missionary parents and witnessed the Chinese Civil War as he was growing up. He returned to Canada in 1937 and enrolled at the University of Toronto. During the Second World War, he enlisted in the air force and became a pilot. Although he never flew in combat, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki turned him into a pacifist. He graduated in 1947 and moved to Saskatchewan to join the Department of Adult Education in Tommy Douglas’s CCF government.
Subsequently, he pursued graduate studies at the University of Michigan and moved with his wife to Thailand in 1956 as a UNESCO fellow at the International Institute for Child Study, and then to India. He left South Asia in 1962 to become the Peace Education Secretary for Canadian Friends Service Committee and, in 1963, he helped found the Quaker Peace Education Centre of Grindstone Island. From 1970 to 1974, he worked for the Canadian University Service Overseas (now CUSO International). One of his greatest triumphs is Project Ploughshares, an organization he helped found in 1976, which aims “to advance policies and actions to prevent war and armed violence and build peace”. In 1981, he achieved another major milestone by co-founding Peace Brigades International, which “protects human rights and promotes non-violent transformation of conflicts”. In the early 1980s, he was called upon to help establish the United Nations World Disarmament Campaign, and he played a critical role in drafting the policy document passed by the General Assembly. In 1985 he co-founded Peacefund Canada and, in 1991, Canadian Friends of Burma. Throughout his activist years, the Canadian federal government and the United Nations often requested his expertise to advise upon disarmament and arms control.
In 1990, he was awarded the Pearson Medal of Peace, and in 2001, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2002, he received the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal and, in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Murray died in May 2019 at the age of 96.
Bruce Thordarson championed cooperatives across Canada and around the globe. His work has helped popularize and strengthen the feasibility of business organizations owned and operated by its members.
Born in 1948 in Mozart, Saskatchewan, Bruce moved to Saskatoon for undergraduate studies at the University of Saskatchewan. He moved to Ottawa for graduate studies at Carleton University, obtaining his degree in 1971. His thesis and published books on federal policymaking under the Pearson and Trudeau administrations gained him a job as a special assistant at Canada’s Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs from 1972 to 1974, and as a policy advisor at the Department of Manpower and Immigration from 1974 to 1976.
Bruce began his career in cooperatives in 1976, when he became Director of Government Affairs at the Canadian Co-operative Credit Society. In 1979, he took up the position of Executive Director at the Cooperative Union of Canada. In 1985, he moved to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), which, to this day, is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the world, representing “1 billion cooperative members on the planet”. In 1988, he was promoted to Director General of the ICA, a role he held until 2001.
He helped transform the ICA into a driving force for cooperatives around the world. In 1995, he drafted two documents that would forever revolutionize cooperatives. The first was his article Cooperatives and Sustainable Human Development, which inspired the United Nations General Assembly to establish a special International Credit Union Day. The second, which he co-drafted with colleagues, was the ICA’s Statement on the Cooperative Identity. The latter document engaged consultations with over 10,000 people through regular international and regional meetings in order to craft a lasting legacy for cooperatives. The document sets “the minimum common denominator for all cooperatives in all sectors and all regions” through “a definition, 10 values and 7 operational principles”. Under his direction, the ICA also underwent a structural reconfiguration to accord full equality of status to the Global South.
Although Bruce left the ICA in 2001, he remained active in the cooperative movement until his death, including assistance to cooperatives in Indonesia and Vietnam. From 2012 to 2015, he also served on the Board of Directors of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa. He died in April 2018 at the age of 69.
Norma Walmsley was a resourceful feminist, a strong community leader and an unmatched fundraiser. Some of her biggest achievements include co-founding of MATCH International Women’s Fund and rebuilding Wakefield’s historical covered bridge after it burnt down.
Norma was born in Elm Creek, Manitoba, in 1920. During the Second World War, she enlisted in the Women’s Division of the Royal Canadian Air Force, becoming the 74th woman to do so. By the end of the war, she had risen to the rank of Officer in Charge of Women’s Division Supplies for Canada and Overseas. She then enrolled at McGill University and, in 1955, became a professor of Political Science at Brandon University. There, she founded the Brandon University WUSC (World University Service of Canada) committee and met the love of her life, Joan Garnett.
In 1967, Garnett and Walmsley moved to Wakefield, Québec. It is there that Norma invested herself fully into the feminist cause. Without pay, she and Suzanne Johnson-Harvor founded MATCH International Centre in 1976, known for many years as MATCH International Women’s Fund (now known as Equality Fund). The Organization specializes in funding grassroots women’s rights organizations in the Global South. It is also one of the only NGOs that works on sustainable development from a feminist perspective. She was also an active member of UNESCO and many non-governmental organizations involved in international development.
When a covered bridge built in 1915 burned in her adopted town of Wakefield, Norma immediately took matters into her own hands. By working tirelessly to amass donations, a brand-new covered bridge was inaugurated fourteen years later, returning a gem that was thought to be forever lost.
In 1977, she was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, and in 2002, a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. In 1983, she received an honorary doctorate from Carleton University and, in 1988, from Brandon University. In 1987, she received the Governor General’s Persons Award, and in 1993, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. She was also recognized as an honorary life member of the Canadian Commission for the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Ottawa-Gatineau Society for International Development, and the Gatineau Valley Historical Society. She died in January 2011 at the age of 90.
Helen Dacey Wilson was a Canadian public servant, broadcaster and author. During her time in government, she helped enshrine women’s rights in the Canadian constitution.
Hellie was born in 1927 in Wilson Cove, Nova Scotia. She grew up poor and the youngest of thirteen siblings. She moved to Ottawa when she was fifteen and later wrote two best-selling books on her childhood memories: Tales From Barrett’s Landing (1964) and More Tales From Barrett’s Landing (1967). She was also a popular radio columnist for CBC Ottawa, wrote articles for Chatelaine under pseudonyms, and worked in book sales in both Montreal and Ottawa.
She began her career in federal public service in the early 1960s, joining the National Art Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Over the next 30 years, she progressed through a series of positions, including administrative assistant to the federal cabinet minister Judy LaMarsh and Communications Officer for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
In the early 1980s, she was appointed vice-president of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (CACSW). This institution had been set up in 1973 “to advise the federal government on the impacts of public policy on women, and to inform the public about women’s issues”. With her help, the CACSW cemented the explicit inclusion of gender equality in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Throughout the years, the CACSW pushed the government to implement measures with regards to parental benefits, employment opportunities, professional practices, gendered violence, sexual assault and harassment, and much more.
After retiring in the mid-1980s, Hellie continued to be a strong advocate for women and human rights. The home she shared with her partner, Betty Zimmerman, provided a temporary residence to numerous individuals in need of help. She was also very generous with her time and money, helping others in whichever way she could. The Wilson-Zimmerman house was home to a handful of cats and was frequented by many artists, writers, activists and politicians over the years. Until her passing, she remained an engaged citizen in her community, caring for humans and animals alike. She is remembered by friends and family as a quick-witted person with an unmatched kindness. She died in June 2015 in Ottawa at the age of 87.
Remembrances of Signatories of the G78 Original Statement Needing More Information
Rita Racette Cadieux was a prominent advocate of women’s empowerment and human rights. She served as Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and as the first Director of the Office of Equal Opportunities.
She died in 2010.
Geraldine Farmer was the President of the Business and Professional Women of Canada between 1980 and 1982, which was then based out of Edmonton. May she rest in peace.
Remaining Signatories of the G78 Original Statement
When the G78 was formed, Margaret Atwood was chair of the Writers Union of Canada, an organization that supports Canadian writers’ rights, freedoms, and economic well-being. Not only is she regarded as one of Canada’s finest writers, but she has also helped diffuse Canadian literature at large. She is a master of the art of speculative fiction, meaning everything she includes in her fictitious stories “happened in real life somewhere at some time”.
Margaret is now a Vice-President of PEN International, an international organization devoted to fighting for jailed and oppressed writers and continues to be a prolific author.
At the time of the founding statement of the G78, Tim was the co-founder and executive director for Inter-Pares, the founder of the Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development, and the president of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (now Cooperation Canada). After 25 years in international development work, he became president of the J.W. McConnell Foundation in Montreal, which supports projects nationwide to enhance Canada’s sustainability, resilience, and innovation. Since 2011, he has served on the board of many non-profits aimed at bettering Canada., including Climate Legacy, a project of the G78, which seeks to engage more seniors in climate action.
Irwin Cotler is a
international human rights lawyer, professor of law at McGill University and director of its Human Rights Program from 1973 until 1999. During his legal career, he represented Nelson Mandela, Jacobo Timmerman, Muchtar Pakpahan, as well as other prominent political prisoners and dissidents.
In 1999, he was elected as Member of Parliament, and a year later, was appointed special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the International Criminal Court. From 2003 to 2006, he served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Since leaving politics 2015 Irwin has remained deeply engaged in efforts to promote peace and justice in this country, and on the global stage.
Richard Harmston is a former chair of the G78, a former director of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (now Cooperation Canada), a former director of the International Student Movement for the United Nations (Geneva) and a founding board director of the North South Institute. Throughout his career, he has engaged with numerous international development institutions, advocating for community development, global peace and security, gender equality and many other socio-political issues. He continues to be deeply involved in the G78.
Anton Emil Kuerti is an internationally recognized Canadian pianist. He is the Artistic Director Emeritus of Mooredale Concerts, and of the Mooredale Youth Orchestras. Kuerti has made a point of keeping his music accessible to all. Notably, he charges low fees for small-town performances, has toured even in the smallest of Canadian communities, and has given benefit concerts for numerous charitable organizations (namely by donating 25% of CD sales directly to Oxfam).
Hon. David MacDonald
At the time of the G78’s founding statement, David Samuel Horne MacDonald was the president of the Futures Secretariat, “a private organization set up to encourage Canadians to participate in world development”. He was deeply involved with African famine issues in the 1980s through the United Church of Canada, in which he was an ordained minister. He began his political career in 1965 as a Progressive Conservative and was later served as Minister of Communications, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women and Secretary of State for Canada.
Since 1998, David has been the United Church of Canada’s Special Advisor on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools and has been deeply involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from its onset.
Yvon Madore spent more than 30 years working in international affairs and development, including 20 years on humanitarian assistance. He lived in various countries in Africa for many years while working for the United Nations.
Two principles guided his entire involvement in international affairs, in both development and humanitarian activities: a cooperative approach among all concerned, and a developmental mindset when addressing humanitarian issues to ensure that the beneficiaries crafted their own future.
Early in his career, he served as deputy director for the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. At the time of the G78’s founding statement, Yvon was the Secretary General of Service Universitaire Canadien Outre-Mer (SUCO/CUSO). Under his leadership, thousands of professionally and technically qualified Canadians were sent to developing countries to help with a wide rage of projects.
After retirement, he continued consultancies in the humanitarian field and has maintained a high interest in international issues.
From 1978 until 1985, Peter Meincke served as the President of the University of Prince Edward Island. There, he helped establish the Island Web Consortium and The Institute of Island Studies, which focuses on the culture, environment, and economy of small islands. Peter was also a consultant to the UN on the establishment of the Small Island Developing States Network.
Subsequently, he joined the boards of a number of organizations, such as the Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada, the National Library Advisory Board and the Canadian Pugwash Group. He continues to advise the latter regarding education on global security. He has also been actively engaged with the G78 on its Board and Committees, including one term as its Chair.
John Meisel began working at Queens University as a Political Science professor in 1949. There, he became a pioneering researcher on political behaviour in Canada and fathered two peer-reviewed journals. Not only did he provide a clear understanding about Canadian governance to his students, but also to the public at large. From 1980 to 1983 he was chair of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, where he helped to restructure important sectors of the industry.
John has also donated his 50-hectare property north of Kingston to the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation, which has since transformed it into a sanctuary of tranquility for the residents of Kingston.
Lucie Pépin started her career as a registered nurse, and soon became a leading proponent of women’s health, advocating for safe abortions and breast cancer treatment. She later became a political figure and further advocated for women’s rights, tackling issues such as domestic violence and childcare. She is a former President and Vice-President of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, a former Member of Parliament, and a former Senator.
She continues to be involved in various associations who campaign for women’s health and reproductive rights.
Prof. John Polanyi
John Polanyi is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry whose research led to the creation of powerful chemical lasers. His discoveries have benefited medicine and industries around the world. At the time the G78 was created, he was a professor at the University of Toronto.
Additionally, Polanyi has been a vocal proponent of nuclear disarmament since the 1960s and later became the inaugural chair of the Canadian Pugwash Group. He has also served as a scientific advisor to several countries and has co-founded the Committee on Scholarly Freedom of the Royal Society and the Canadian Committee for Scientists and Scholars. He continues to contribute to science and society.
Rt. Rev. Lois Wilson
From 1980 to 1982, Lois Wilson served as the first female Moderator of the United Church of Canada. She had previously served as president of the Canadian Council of Churches. After her mandate as Moderator, she served as Co-Director of the Ecumenical Forum of Canada and as President of the World Council of Churches. In all of these roles, she tackled world problems such as energy, poverty, gender inequality and human rights.
In the 1990s, she pondered the issue of the disposal of nuclear waste, and in 1998, she was appointed to the Senate serving until her retirement in 2002. She remains an outspoken and articulate voice for human rights and religious understanding.
From 1976 to 1989, Bernard Wood was the founding Director of the North-South Institute in Canada. During this time, he helped demystify various issues relating to international affairs and defence, and he was a Personal Representative of the Prime Minister of Canada in the fight against Apartheid. He served on the board of a number of other international development agencies. Namely, he has represented Canada on several delegations to the United Nations and was director of the OECD’s Development Cooperation Directorate in Paris for several years.
More recently, Bernard has embarked on a non-fiction literary journey, writing on Canadian history.