Writer and activist June Callwood has spent much of her life working to improve the lives of others. Now, in recognition of her prominent career as a social activist, Victoria College has established the June Callwood Professorship in Social Justice. The professorship, part of the Vic One program for first-year students, will be held on a rotating basis by a faculty member who will teach a course in social justice issues. Fundraising began in June as an 80th birthday gift for Callwood, who was diagnosed last year with inoperable cancer.
“June’s keen sense of social activism – of righting wrongs and being willing to fight to have otherwise marginalized voices heard – is really at the heart of the Callwood professorship, and is something we are working hard to instil in our Vic One students,” says Victoria College principal David Cook. “Through this professorship, June’s legacy of caring will carry on long after she has left us.”
Callwood grew up in Belle River, Ont., where, she says: “We had a common ethic and that ethic was that we took care of one another.” She is eager to see this spirit of caring promoted through the professorship. “To kindle the spark of social responsibility that is in all young people is quite a challenge. I think this professorship has been carefully thought through and will be wonderful.”
Callwood has founded or co-founded more than 50 social action organizations, including hostels for women and youths, a centre for teenage parents, and Casey House, an AIDS hospice named after her late son. She has been recognized with the Order of Canada and honorary degrees from many universities.
Fighting to have marginalized voices heard is at the heart of the June Callwood Professorship in Social Justice.