A professor emerita from Ryerson’s school of disability studies was named an officer of the Order of Canada today.
Catherine Frazee, a writer and activist, has taught extensively about human rights and disability arts and culture, often drawing on her own experience with limited mobility. She also served on the board of directors of the Abilities Arts Festival (now called the Tangled Art + Disability festival) and was a chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1989 to 1992.
She began her teaching career at Ryerson in 2001 and was involved in shaping the curriculum of the then newly-formed school of disability studies.
“Catherine is an absolutely brilliant writer, a brilliant spokesperson,” said Kathryn Church, director of the school. “Once you hear her, you never forget hearing her. She has a way of speaking about issues that really causes you to stop and rethink things. I know the students who were in her classrooms have never forgotten her.”
One of Church’s most striking memories of working with Frazee is an art project they worked on called “Out From Under,” which involved both students and alumni contributing objects they considered to be illustrative of the history of disability. The project was later showcased at the Royal Ontario Museum.
“She’s a terrific collaborator, a joy to work with,” said Church.
Frazee was in Ottawa to receive the award from Gov. Gen. David Johnston on Wednesday.
She currently lives in Canning, N.S.
The Order of Canada was created in 1967 and recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Others invested into the Order of Canada include retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, Blue Rodeo band mates Greg Keelor and Jim Cuddy, the late philanthropist Joseph Rotman and the late Toronto Star journalist Barbara Turnbull.
More than 6,000 Canadians have been invested into the Order, according to the Governor General’s office.