Dr. Ursula M. Franklin, O.C., FRSC – a woman who has earned an enviable national and international reputation among friends and colleagues during a lifetime of service and activism – was the 22nd recipient of the Pearson Peace Medal. Mr. Geoffrey Pearson, National President of the United Nations Association in Canada, made the medal presentation on Tuesday, 15 January, 2002 at the Ursula Franklin Academy in Toronto.
Dr. Franklin came to Canada in 1949 after completing her Ph.D. in experimental physics at the Technical University of Berlin. She has had a distinguished scientific and teaching career in her chosen field of metallurgy and ancient materials at the Ontario Research Foundation and then at the University of Toronto, including her current position as Professor Emeritas in that university’s Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science. More than 70 scholarly papers and major contributions to books and seminars attest to her scientific abilities, as do several honorary degrees and other recognitions.
She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She has also been one of the moving forces in the efforts to ensure peace, social justice and human rights in both this country and internationally. Her energy and intellect have kept her in the forefront of these critical global issues for years. To quote her nominator for this honour, “by her direct actions, in support of or in opposition to ideas and policies, she has changed the thinking, the assumptions, the direction of the lives of those who have welcomed her clarity, her honesty, her beautiful and often humorous use of language, her constant search for truth and her ability to share this search with others”.
One of the most fitting honours in recognition of Dr. Franklin’s tireless commitment to peace has been the naming of an inner city Toronto high school as the Ursula Franklin Academy. This has been much more than a nominal honour. She has actively participated in the life of the school, and in particular in the establishment of a ground-breaking programme in cross-cultural understanding and conflict resolution. The school is a part of the Canadian Network of Innovative Schools (initiated by SchoolNet)- it also has significant international connections (ufa.tdsb.on.ca). UNA-Canada was delighted to collaborate with the staff and students of the Academy, who hosted the presentation ceremony.
Photo (L to R): Geoffrey Pearson, National President of UNA-Canada and son of Lester Pearson; Ursula Franklin, recipient
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