Monday, October 3, 2011

Sylva M. Gelber

Arts patron

Born in Toronto in 1910; lived in Ottawa; died in 2003.

Distinguished Canadian who served Canada in various capacities, most notably as Director of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labour and Canadian representative on the UN Commission for the Status of Women from 1970-74.

Held many international appointments during her lifetime, including that of Canadian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1976 and 1978.

Outspoken advocate of women's rights; helped to introduce equal-pay legislation, maternity leave and women's pension benefits into Canadian society.

Spent 15 years as a medical social worker and government administrator in British-mandate Palestine, an experience she chronicled in No Balm in Gilead, an award-winning 1989 memoir.

Known for her wit, humour and a love of music, stylish clothes and fast cars, she led a colourful life that included early stints in theatre and radio; passionate music lover; known in Ottawa as an arts patron.

Created the Sylva M. Gerber Music Foundation to help talented Canadian students with high costs of training.

A Piano Lab at the University of Ottawa was named the Sylva Gerber studio in her honour.

She is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

No comments: