Margaret Newall, LL.D., October 18, 2001

Margaret Newall

In an era of globalization, the United Nations reminded us, in 1994 the Year of the Family, of their goal "building the smallest democracies at the heart of society". The well being of our families is fundamental to our individual well being and development and equally fundamental to the well being of our society. Margaret Newall has devoted her life and work to the promotion of healthy families throughout her career as a teacher, a mother and through her activities as a volunteer and philanthropist. It is fitting, therefore, that we honour Mrs. Margaret Newall in recognition of her outstanding contribution to research and education in pursuit of solutions to family violence and abuse.

Margaret Newall was born in Davidson, Saskatchewan. From her earliest days Margaret has demonstrated a deep commitment to the benefits of education and value of family. As a young woman with no money to attend university, she took her "Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto" (ARCT) in piano at Regina College. Then, for several years, she traveled weekly by bus to Craig, Saskatchewan to give piano lessons to pay her way through University. Margaret graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts (With Distinction) in 1958. Married in 1959, she and her husband, Ted Newall, settled in Roxboro, Quebec. Margaret was one of a small group of women who organized fund-raising to set up the first library in Roxboro.

Later, in Montreal she attended McGill University where she qualified as a teacher, receiving her diploma in 1972. She also lobbied successfully with other parents to allow taxes to be paid to the school system which children attended, thus permitting their three children to become bilingual by attending Catholic schools even though the family was not Catholic. After moving to Toronto she taught elementary school for ten years and music privately. During that period she worked with many children with a great range of needs and abilities and saw the impact of family violence on young children of six, seven and eight years of age. The Montreal Massacre of 1989 touched her deeply.

After moving to Calgary with her husband, she found an opportunity to make a difference in the area of violence and abuse. Margaret Newall became a founding member and key resource person in the establishment of the Prairieaction Foundation in 1997. The Foundation was set up specifically to raise $5 million to promote research and education for solutions to violence and abuse. The endowed funds are dedicated to support research and education on family violence and maintain the infrastructure of a network of researchers, service providers and policy makers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

This network RESOLVE (Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse) has a formal partnership with seven prairie universities and research centres at the universities of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Calgary. The University of Manitoba is the administrative centre of the network. Within three and a half years the foundation had reached its goal.

Such successful fund-raising for research in the social sciences is an almost unheard of accomplishment in Canada. Margaret Newall led the campaign visiting corporations, governments and individuals across the Prairies and indeed Central Canada. Margaret used her visits to potential donors to educate people about the issues of violence and abuse. While corporations are often reluctant to give to foundations and are not usually major donors to social science research, Margaret was not deterred. The power of her commitment to families and her belief in the importance of education and research overcame the barriers she encountered and led to such a successful campaign. Rather than rest on her laurels, Margaret Newall has agreed to stay on the finance committee of the Prairieaction Foundation to raise even more funds.

Margaret Newall has shown leadership in every community in which she has lived, in the promotion of education, family well being and in serving the public good. Margaret is a Prairie woman, quiet, unassuming but filled with strength, inner commitment and no stranger to hard work. Margaret's involvement with her communities and the circumstances of her life have given her a unique position in society. She personally knows many government leaders, national and provincial, she personally knows many corporate leaders, national and international, she personally knows victims and survivors of family violence, as well as service providers and researchers in the field. Margaret's deep commitment and wisdom has been to harness the energies of these diverse communities to work together for solutions to violence and abuse.

Mrs. Margaret Newall is honoured for her personal contributions to research and education to end violence and abuse and for her contribution to the social and intellectual development of students and professors at the University of Manitoba and our six partner universities across the prairies.