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Shirley Greenberg is remembered as a pioneer and philanthropist

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“Without her, women in Ottawa would be in a worse state. There is no doubt,” a friend talks about women’s health, the legal community, and beyond.

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Ottawa Hospital officials worked hard to convince Shirley Greenberg to give her a name to the Women’s Health Center, which helped her bear fruit on the Riverside Campus in 2005. She reluctantly forgave when her friend convinced her that in doing so the woman would make a statement about the importance of caring for the woman.

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“She didn’t like to put her name on things. She made more contributions than people know and claimed she couldn’t name her,” she was a friend and colleague. Constance Backhouse, a professor of law at uOttawa, said.

Today, Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Center is the origin of her name, but one of the many ways Ottawa feminist pioneers, lawyers and philanthropists have changed people’s lives, especially women’s lives. It’s just that.

“She gave at an extraordinary level, often quietly,” said her friend Peggy Talon, who worked on the Women’s Health Center project at Ottawa Hospital and is now Vice President of Strategy, Engagement, Communication, Development and Integration at Bruyeres. Said. “She didn’t like Houpla.”

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Friends and community members have called Greenberg, who died at the age of 90 this week, to promote equality, a noble figure in the feminist movement who fought for women’s rights when women were not equal under the law. I remember as a promised generous philanthropist. An uncontrollable playful person.

Penny Collenette, a lawyer and former associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said:

“Without her, Ottawa women would be in a worse state. No questions.”

Shirley Greenberg, Ottawa feminist pioneer, lawyer and philanthropist.
Shirley Greenberg, Ottawa feminist pioneer, lawyer and philanthropist. Photo by Jana Hitirowa / /Freestyle photography

Her achievement list includes supporting the establishment of the Ottawa Women’s Center, co-founding the National Women’s Law Association, and the Legal Education Action Fund, which ensures that women’s issues are properly reflected in proceedings.

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The three mothers were raising a family when the women’s movement encouraged her to go to college as an adult student. After she earned a sociology degree from Carleton University, she enrolled in law school and the University of Ottawa, where she earned her degree at the age of 45.

She and her advocate Maureen McTeer were one of 21 women in a class of 120 when she started law school at the University of Ottawa in 1973. Until then, only eight women could participate in the program each year.

His son, Dan Greenberg, who was a teenager at the time, remembers his mother working in his home office. It wasn’t until she began to appreciate the full extent of her work she was doing and the community she was building. “She fought for women’s rights and equality in a time when women’s equality was far inferior. Young women take some of those benefits for granted.”

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Greenberg, who worked as a legal secretary before earning a law degree, created the first all-female law practice in Ottawa when there were only 10 women practicing law in Ottawa. .. According to Backhaus, the practice has become a sign for female lawyers.

“She became a mother and brought fruit to the entire generation of feminist lawyers,” she said.

According to Talon, the center of women’s health excellence, founded on the Riverside Campus and led by Dr. Elaine Jolly, the first medical director, was close to Greenberg’s heart. “It really spoke to her. She always said that women are more than reproductive health, but that reproductive health must be taken care of. That was her vision. . “

Greenberg was also keenly aware of the inequality women faced throughout the healthcare system, including what is often considered later in health research. “She was her catalyst. Whatever Shirley did, she brought her trust,” Talon said.

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She has donated to many other projects to improve women’s health, including the Breast Cancer Imaging Suite at Queensway Carlton Hospital and the Women’s Mental Health Resource Center at Royal Otawa Hospital. She also supported the Wabano Center.

At the University of Ottawa, Greenberg is the university’s most generous female donor, and often in an undisclosed way, says John Owellett, Executive Director of the University’s Strategic Philanthropy.

Among other things, there is a chair donated by her name to support an annual project that includes women’s rights and social justice, and a series of lectures that take top feminist scholars to law school, Ouellette said. ..

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She agreed to give her a name to the donated chair when she was convinced that a friend might encourage others to do the same. She said, “She said she didn’t want to give her her name to her things, but she realized she could influence her and pave the way for her.” ..

Ouellette said her philanthropy goes far beyond the project from which the name came from. “She also made quite a few anonymous donations in the community and college. A few months ago, one of the things she enjoyed was seeing her philanthropy create miracles, big and small. I said. “

Greenberg raised three children, Martha (now Bergeron), Dan and Phoebe, with her husband Irving Greenberg (former CEO of Mentha Group). Irving Greenberg died in 1991.

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