Every day, we run into amazing women who make us stop and look at life a little differently. And so, we think it's fitting to honour some of these Canadians. Our pick includes some who are famous and some who aren’t -- from an international opera star to a young medical researcher. We think they will inspire you, too.
Kelly Williams, a race car driver, puts the pedal to the metal in a world that's often intimidating to women. Now she’s working to empower women by running Car Care Clinics and demystifying cars in her e-book, Kelly's Garage.
Michaëlle Jean, former Governor General of Canada, reminded us all after the earthquake in Haiti how important it is to reach out to others in a disaster. In September 2010, she was appointed special envoy to Haiti by the United Nations.
Angela James is a hockey legend. The winner of four world championships, she became one of the first two women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Dr. Samantha Nutt cofounded War Child Canada, an organization that helps children in war zones across the globe, after witnessing firsthand the struggles of kids affected by war.
Melissa-Jane Shaw – actor, producer, choreographer and businesswoman – does it all. To help open up opportunities for women in the arts, she founded Seventh Stage Productions, now called LaRouge Entertainment.
Dr. Lalita Malhotra moved to Prince Albert, Sask., from her native India in 1975 and became an advocate for women's health, founding the Women's Wellness Clinic, which works to help newcomers adapt to the Canadian health-care system.
Debi Goodwin, a documentary producer, recorded the lives of 11 refugee students from Kenya who received scholarships from Canadian universities and permanent residency, in Citizens of Nowhere: From Refugee Camp to Canadian Campus (Doubleday Canada, 2010). She brought us a glimpse into their lives as they adjust to winter, washing machines and western culture.
Samantha Bee, one of two Canadian correspondents on the popular TV show "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," treats audiences to her hilarious Canadian sense of humour four nights a week.
Floria Sigismondi, a director, is responsible for parlaying her vision into memorable music videos, but she really pushed it with her biopic debut, The Runaways, which brought the coming-of-age story about former Runaways singer Cherie Currie to life.
Joelle Berdugo Adler found the perfect fit with denim and philanthropy. After securing the Canadian rights to distribute Diesel jeans with her partner, she created OneXOne, a nonprofit foundation that supports local and international charities.
Page 1 of 3 – Discover ten more inspirational Canadian women on page 2.
Alexina Louie, a two-time Juno Award winner and officer of the Order of Canada, is a composer of Chinese descent, mixing up Eastern, Western and Canadian heritage – all for the love of music.
Julie Payette was the first Canadian astronaut to visit the International Space Station, where she operated the Canadarm robotic arm. Originally from Montreal, Payette now works at NASA in Houston.
Measha Brueggergosman, an international opera star, has inspired us with her album, Night and Dreams, featuring beautiful interpretations of little-known songs by Schubert, Liszt and others.
Caitlin Cronenberg does have a famous film director dad, but she's making a name for herself with stunning photographs. In September 2010, she curated an exhibition of images from The New York Times Canadian Photo Archive that ran alongside the Toronto International Film Festival.
Huberte Gautreau, a nursing professor at the University of Moncton, N.B., is now retired, but the nurse and pay-equity activist is putting her time to good use serving on the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier, who grew up in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, in northern Quebec, has focused on the health and cultural survival of the Inuit and Arctic Aboriginal Peoples. Now her focus is on climate change and how best to protect the Arctic and save the planet.
Alice Munro, one of the best writers this country has ever produced, has been credited internationally for her unique writing style and moving prose. We fell in love with her all over again with her collection of stories, Too Much Happiness (Penguin Group Canada, 2010).
Clara Hughes is the only athlete to ever win multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Now she’s working closely with Right to Play, which uses sport and play to help kids in disadvantaged areas.
Lisa LaFlamme, a CTV foreign affairs correspondent, made the news herself when she landed the 11 o'clock news anchor's chair, replacing Lloyd Robertson.
Coco Rocha speaks out against eating disorders in the fashion industry. Her message hit home when she blogged: "I'm a 21-year-old model, six inches taller and 10 sizes smaller than the average American woman. Yet in another parallel universe I'm considered 'fat.'"
Sook-Yin Lee, an actor, musician and host of CBC Radio’s "Definitely Not the Opera," is not afraid to push the boundaries, and in 2010, it was with her writing and directorial debut, the feature-length film Year of the Carnivore.
Page 2 of 3 – See which great Canadians round up the list of inspirational women on page 3.
Lt.-Col. Maryse Carmichael became the first woman to fly with the Canadian Forces’ prestigious Snowbirds Aerobatic Team. In 2010, she became the first woman to lead the squadron as a commanding officer.
Johanne St. Louis mixes fashion with philanthropy. Her loungewear line, Dreamyz, which manufactures pajamas under a fair-trade model, was showcased in Rwanda’s first-ever fashion week.
Mandy-Rae Cruickshank, free-diving world champion, teamed up with the Oceanic Preservation Society to work on The Cove, a documentary focusing on preserving our oceans and oceanic creatures, and shedding light on the dolphin slaughter in Japan.
Katherine Govier, an award-winning novelist, is an advocate of Canadian literature and helped establish two innovative Canadian writing programs: an online program and a program for immigrant, refugee and exiled writers. A few years ago, we were treated to her novel, The Ghost Brush (HarperCollins Canada, 2010).
The Honourable Louise Arbour has devoted her career to human rights as former UN high commissioner for human rights and former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. Now president and CEO of the International Crisis Group, she continues to resolve conflicts around the world.
The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin has been chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada for the past 10 years. The first woman to hold that title, she was also the first woman to be appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal and the first female B.C. Supreme Court justice
Ruth Rakoff put an irreverant spin on breast cancer recovery with her book When My World Was Very Small: A Memoir of Family, Food, Cancer and My Couch (Random House Canada, 2010), in which she shares tidbits like: chemotherapy is part of the cure – as is a good bottle of Merlot.
Viola Desmond (1914 to 1965), an African-Canadian, refused to sit in the black-designated balcony seats of a theatre in 1946, choosing a seat in the whites-only section. She was charged. In 2010, she was granted a posthumous pardon and formal apology from the Government of Nova Scotia.
Perri Tutelman, of Richmond, B.C., was named one of Youth in Motion's Top 20 Under 20 this year for her work researching the immune system and cancer growth at the University of British Columbia's Biomedical Research Centre.
Dana Florence and her husband founded the Three to Be Foundation to help fund a cure for cerebral palsy (CP) and other neurological disorders after their triplets, Cole, Taylor and Brody, were diagnosed with CP at 10 months old.
Elisapee Sheutiapik, is the president of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, an
organization to help protect the rights of women and children. She renamed one street leading to a women's shelter "Angel Street" and challenged other communities to make their own Angel Streets as memorials to Canadian victims of domestic violence.
Sally Armstrong, a member of the Order of Canada, teacher, author and human rights activist, became a member this year of the International Women's Commission, whose mandate is to contribute to a just and sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Christine Magee, the cofounder of Sleep Country Canada, supports organizations such as the Donated Bed program, Give a Kid a Coat, Backpacks for Kids and the Children's Miracle Network, and works closely with the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business to encourage young adults.
Joannie Rochette skated her heart out to win a bronze medal only two days after her mother's sudden death at the Vancouver Olympics. Who didn't cry after watching her performance?
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This story was originally titled "35 Amazing Canadian Women" in the December 2010 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!