By RON FANFAIR
Former Ontario Cabinet Minister Mary Anne Chambers has been a woman of distinction long before the YWCA formally conferred her with the honour last week at the 30th annual “Women of Distinction Awards” fundraiser at the Metro Convention Centre.
Chambers was elected a Member of the Provincial Parliament in 2003 a year after retiring as a senior vice-president at Scotiabank. She served as Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and Minister of Children and Youth Services prior to quitting politics in 2007.
More importantly, she has dedicated much of her life’s work to creating opportunities for women, youth and the marginalized.
Chambers was recognized for community service at the awards ceremony celebrating women who are making a difference in the community.
“It’s truly an honour, while also humbling, to have been nominated and especially by women whom I know to be themselves women of distinction,” said Chambers who, with her family, migrated to Canada from Jamaica in 1972.
“I have learned that it might not be the hands that we are dealt in life that define who we are, but rather how we are able to play those hands. I also believe that sometimes we need the support of others in making those plays and that’s really why we are here this evening,” she told the guests at the event.
“In this room, I see tremendous hope and endless possibilities. In all of you, I see people who care deeply about others. So perhaps we should celebrate each other, not just tonight’s award recipients, for what I see in you.”
The other recipients were Jane Allen, June Dwyer, Deborah Sinclair, Helen Burstyn, Claudine Labelle, Noella Milne and Rona Abramovitch.
“This year’s awards honour the achievements of eight women who have shown outstanding leadership in helping to improve the lives of women and girls in the Greater Toronto Area,” said Minister Responsible for Women Issues in Ontario, Laurel Broten. “The accomplishments of tonight’s nominees and award recipients demonstrate the important work women continue to do to make our communities strong.”
Previous Women of Distinction award winners include Ontario’s Fairness Commissioner Jean Augustine, filmmaker Claire Prieto, educator Dr. Avis Glaze, human rights activist June Veecock, poet/playwright NourbeSe Philip, community workers Rev. Paulette Brown, Kay Blair, Angela Robertson, Kamala-Jean Gopie, Ebonnie Rowe, Beth Jordan and late entrepreneur and Order of Canada recipient, Bev Mascoll.