University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Alumni Named Women of Distinction

Honorees include champion of women's equality in the church

YWCA has recognized three U of T alumni with 2005 Women of Distinction Awards. Sister Ellen Leonard (BA 1967), a professor emeritus of theology at St. Michael’s College, was honoured in the religion and education category. Leonard, who joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1951, was one of the first women to teach theology in Canada. She is a champion of women’s equality in the church and academic worlds. Margaret Norrie McCain (BSc 1955), former lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, is the recipient of the philanthropy and volunteerism award. An advocate for early childhood education, McCain co-chaired the City of Toronto’s Commission for Early Learning and Child Care in 2002. An award was also granted posthumously to Dianne Martin (BA 1972 VIC), one of Canada’s leading female criminal lawyers. During her almost 30-year legal career, Martin advocated for the reform of sexual assault law, the establishment of midwifery as a profession, a citizens’ review of police activities and the defence of the wrongfully convicted.

Sabra Desai (BA 1983 Erindale, MSc 1985) received a New Pioneers Award for Community Service, which recognizes contributions made by immigrants and refugees in the Greater Toronto Area. Desai helped create the Interim Place for women and children facing violence, and is a founding member of the South Asian Women’s Centre.

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