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15 Awe-Inspiring Canadian Women You Need to Know

Mar 7, 2014 at 5:11 PM Chime in now

Hayley Wickenheiser. Margaret Atwood. Serena Ryder. These are just a few of the many well known women who call Canada home. But et's take a moment to ponder the awe-inspiring Canadian women don't hear about every day, but are blazing trails, and being awesome every day. Here are just a few of the many amazing thinkers and bright stars we'd like to meet.

This Scarborough, Ontario native is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose work features themes around gender and class injustice. With feature exhibitions and performances across the United States and Canada and Europe at museums such as the Galerie de l’UQAM in Montreal, Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art, the Fumetto Festival in Switzerland, her thought-provoking work mixes methods including sculpture, drawing, painting, installation and performance. Last year, she represented Canada at the prestigious Venice Biennale.

Originally from the United Kingdom, this Toronto resident is a Canadian leader in the field of biology. She works as a senior scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology program and chief of research at The Hospital for Sick Children and is also a professor in the Departments of Molecular Genetics, Obstetrics/Gynaecology and Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. And her work has not gone unnoticed: she’s won awards such as the Killam Prize for Health Sciences, the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology and the prestigious CIHR Michael Smith Prize in Health Research.

When you trend on Twitter, you’ve clearly made a public impression -- which is what Stewart did last April when she announced she was leaving executive vice-president of CBC English Services to head up…Twitter Canada. After joining the CBC in 2006, Stewart helped raise the prime-time Canadian content with the national broadcaster and increase ratings, both of which helped name her Canadian Women in Communications 2010 Woman of the Year.  

This Canadian playwright is the indie name behind many stage titles: East of Berlin, Mexico City, Essay, The Russian Play, The Children’s Republic, This is War, Little One, Other People’s Children, The Huron Bride and In This World. And collectively her work has earned her accolades such as Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a nomination for the Governor General’s Award, the Carol Bolt Award, the Toronto Arts Council Foundation Emerging Artist Award, the K.M Hunter Award and more.  She recently wrote the libretto for the New York's Gotham Camber Opera “I Have No Stories to Tell You.

This food writer and photographer has been called a culinary anthropologist for a reason: she’s authored six tasty award-winning books including Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through South-East Asia and Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Stories from the Other China. While you can find her work in magazines such as Saveur and Cooking Light, you can also catch her weekly posts on her blog where food, travel and culture are woven together.

As CEO and president of Plan International Canada, this former Wall Street lawyer has helped bring Plan’s names to the forefront of the public’s minds by not only helping Plan expand into war-torn Darfur, but driving the well-known, nine-year Because I am a Girl campaign that advocates for girls’ rights. McCarney has more than 20 years of international development work behind her, most of which focused on children. She recently wrote the book Every Day is Malala Day as a tribute to the  effect that Malala Yousafzai’s tireless campaign for education has had on girls around the world following the Taliban’s efforts to silence herhttp://plancanada.ca/every-day-is-malala-day-plan-canada
Emery, a CEO and president of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, has worked with the organization for seven years and is intrinsically involved in its evolution. That included changes such as developing it into a new state-of-the-art hospital through a $425-million redevelopment project and helping rebrand the hospital. Through her work there and other previous hospitals, it’s no surprise to find out she’s been named twice to the list of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100.

This Montrealer who specializes in creating and designing online games is also one of the names behind many popular video games including Assassins Creed. As director of video-game development company Ubisoft Toronto, she’s come a long way since graduating from McGill University and her first job at Sony programming games.

Technology and innovation are areas where Treurnicht helps specialize in as CEO of innovation centre, Toronto-based MaRS Discovery District. Treurnicht has been with MaRS since 2005 when she joined the institution leaving her role as president & CEO of Primaxis Technology Ventures behind. This former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University has not had her work go unnoticed either: she’s twice been named to the list of Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100.

As chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association, this graduate of the University of Western Ontario and the Ivey School of Business has an impressive roster of titles held behind her name including: tournament director in Toronto for the WTA, vice-president of Tennis Canada, president of the WTA and more. So it’s no surprise to hear that Forbes magazine has called her one of the most powerful woman in sports.

As Physics and Computer Science professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and Director of the Centre for Women in Science, Dr. Ghose believes in the importance in creating better pathways for women to enter science fields. Watch her video talking about chaos and the quantum level. Fun Fact: Dr. Ghose co-authored Canada’s first astronomy textbook for first-year students.

This chief marketing officer and chief communications officer at L’Oréal Canada recently left the company she’d worked with for 12 years. She held increasingly impressive titles within the cosmetics company including international marketing director, and vice-president, general manager, luxury brands. Her work goes beyond L’Oreal as well—she also held the role of vice chair, board of directors for the Canadian Cosmetic,Toiletry & Fragrance Association and is the Co-President of the YWCA Montreal Foundation.

This Queen’s University and Schulich School of Business/York University graduate has twice held the title of president and chair of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. With her hands-on experience as a production engineer at Dofasco Inc., she’s also worked as a lecturer at Queen’s faculty of applied science and engineering, and Queen’s school of business, she’s also held the title of director, first-year studies at Queen’s engineering and general manager at Queen’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) Inc.

Called ‘The Mother of All Charity,'  Helen Yu devoted her life to raising funds for various charitable organizations and people in need.  Called "Mama Lu", she arrived from Taiwan in 1969 and started volunteering with the United Way of Greater Toronto, eventually helping to organize their first walkathon in 1983.  She died this Spring, but not before receiving the Order of Ontario for her work.

Youth leader, fashion designer, model and activist, this Ottawa based juggernaut has a long list of accomplishments, among them: She co-founded I ACT, a Youth Empowerment Network in Ottawa. She is the founder of I AM FASHION, a fashion show that redefined Ottawa’s Fashion Scene. She also launched La Caravane de l'Esprance in Senegal (a project to help women with health and social justice issues), and organized a campaign called "A Month of Hope" that raised money to send Haitian children affected by the 2010 earthquake to school. She was presented with a  “Tomorrow’s Leader” award by Canada’s Revenue Agency.



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