Last night (March 3), social activist and feminist Margaret Trudeau received a community service award at the Simon Fraser University Alumni Association’s annual Outstanding Alumni event in Vancouver.
A charter graduate of SFU’s sociology and anthropology programs, Trudeau was recognized for her exceptional work in clean water and mental health advocacy. As the honourary president of WaterAid Canada, she champions environmental issues by aiding in the establishment of sustainable water sources and sanitation services in developing countries.
By sharing her past struggles with bipolar disorder and depression, Trudeau has also helped reduce the stigmatization of mental illness across North America, while encouraging people suffering from mental health disorders to seek support.
She was one of five SFU alumni honoured for their academic, professional, and community achievements.
At the start of the event, Trudeau’s son Justin surprised both her and the crowd with a short speech. Taking time from his political duties to share some words about his mum, Justin gushed, “I am incredibly proud—I don’t care who knows it—to be my mother’s son.”
Later taking the stage herself, Trudeau outlined her time at SFU and, at one point, credited the institution with sparking her feminist beliefs.
“I believe that the real change that will come to the world is through the women and through the girls standing up and nurturing, and being kind and compassionate and caring,” she said. “And putting greed behind [us] and allowing them to be part of the real change that we’re all involved in.”
Three other Outstanding Alumni Award recipients (scientist and television host Dr. Jennifer Gardy, geographic information science pioneer Dr. David Mark, and the Royal Bank of Canada’s chief human resources officer Zabeen Hirji) also gave inspiring speeches about their experiences at SFU and in the workforce.
Philanthropist David Fong, the last of the evening’s honourees, thanked the association for its recognition through a video message from his residence in Beijing.