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Faculty of Arts

Arts in action 2014/9
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Provost Office

Ryerson Academic Plan
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Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Morton Beiser

Olivia Chow

Biography:

In a political career that began in 1985, Olivia Chow has been one of Canada’s most effective and well known public figures, serving in municipal politics in Toronto and on the national stage as a Canadian Member of Parliament.  

Olivia was born in Hong Kong and moved to Toronto with her parents when she was thirteen. She studied philosophy and art at university and has worked as a college professor, an ESL teacher, counselor for new immigrants and a sculptor.

Olivia won her first election in 1985 and served on the Toronto Board of Education for six years.

In 1991, Olivia became the first Asian-born woman elected as a Metro Toronto Councilor. She was re-elected to city council five times, serving with distinction for 14 years.  While at City Hall, she served as Chair of the Community Services Committee and Vice Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), among other senior responsibilities.

Olivia gained national recognition for her innovative approaches to programs for children and youth as Toronto’s first Children and Youth Advocate. In this capacity, she enhanced the far-reaching child nutrition programs, free dental care for children living in poverty, expanded pre- and post-natal services, and an award winning approach to delivering Early Learning and Child Care (First Duty).

First elected to Parliament in 2006, Olivia won re-election twice.  In Parliament, her Early Learning and Child Care Bill laid the legislative foundation for a universal, high quality, affordable and non-profit national childcare program.  She also pushed for faster family reunification and giving a chance for immigrants to succeed through recognition of foreign credentials and employment initiatives.

Olivia was the Official Opposition Transport and Infrastructure Critic. Her bill on a National Public Transit Strategy was widely celebrated by mayors and municipalities from coast to coast to coast.

Throughout her career, Olivia has been at the forefront, working for progress for all. She has reached across party lines and travelled across the country, forging alliances with municipal and provincial leaders, business and advocacy groups.

Outside the political sphere, Olivia is known as a tireless spokesperson, fundraiser and champion of numerous charities such as the Canadian Cancer Society and related charities, Centre for Victims of Torture, Asian Community AIDS Service and Culture Link.

Olivia Chow is currently working with the Institute for Change Leaders teaching community organizers through innovative and intensive educational workshops. You and/or your organization can contact changeleaders@ryerson.ca to set up a educational training with Olivia Chow.