The Passing of Dr. Mary Young

We regret to inform the University of Winnipeg community of the passing of Dr. Mary Young on July 20, 2015.

Dr. Young joined the University of Winnipeg Student Counselling Services on July 2, 1984 as a Native Student Advisor/Counsellor. From April 1, 2003 to April 30, 2008, Mary served as the Director of Aboriginal Student Services and in 2007, after she attained her Ph.D., also joined the Faculty of Education where she was an active researcher and teacher. Mary developed and taught Education’s Introduction to Aboriginal Education course. She retired from the University on July 31, 2013 following 29 years of University service.

Mary was a well-known member of our faculty and campus community. She was the driving force behind the creation and establishment of the Aboriginal Student Services Centre in 2004. Her vision was “to provide a safe and comfortable place not only for Aboriginal Students to study, read, and write their papers, but also to form new friendships, support each other, and hopefully develop lasting relationships.” Under Mary’s guidance and direction, the Centre began to realize her vision. It was essential to her that it provide culturally relevant Aboriginal programming, as well as space and supports for students, their friends, and their families.  In this space, students are now able to interact with Elders, participate in healing circles, and become involved in programming that encourages students to retain, embrace, and celebrate their identity as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people as they navigate the halls of academia. The Centre became a hub for community interaction and events.

Mary’s first book, Pimatisiwin: Walking in a Good Way, was published by Pemmican in 2005, and her presentations on it were recognized as having done much to familiarize both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences with salient cultural and language concerns. Her second book, Warrior Women: Remaking Postsecondary Places Through Relational Narrative Inquiry, was published by Emerald in 2012 in the UK.

Mary was an active participant in university life, and served on several committees – including the President’s Task Force on Access in 2006 – and participated with the President in the Aboriginal University Education Round Table in 2007.

For her dedication to being a voice for Aboriginal people and education at the University and beyond, Mary received the Clarence Atchison Award for Excellence in Community Service in 1992 and the Marsha Hanen Award for Excellence in Creating Community Awareness in 2007. Mary was an inspiration to those who knew her. The issues she addressed range from healing the residential school experience, combating racism and discrimination, incorporating the wisdom of Elders into modern society, and ensuring the survival of Aboriginal languages. Mary worked diligently to reconnect many Aboriginal young people with their home communities, culture, and languages. She will be missed.

As per the obituary published in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 25: “A celebration of Mary’s life, through stories and songs, will begin with prayers on Monday, July 27, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Harrow United Church, 955 Mulvey Ave., Winnipeg. The celebration will continue with funeral services on Tuesday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m. at Neil Bardal Funeral Centre, 3030 Notre Dame Ave., Winnipeg. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mary’s name can be made to the SERDC Indian Residential School Program at 200-360 Broadway Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0T6. “

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6 Comments

  • Kathleen said...

    What a amazing woman.
    I did not know this about her.
    I’m sorry for the family’s loss.

  • Lloyd Axworthy said...

    Mary was a true leader and inspiration in opening the aboriginal education mission of the university. I hope there will be an appropriate way of honouring her life and contribution.

  • Diane Hansen said...

    As a friend of Mary’s from Minneapolis, I was well aware of her dedication to the University of Winnipeg and education in general, and of her strong desire to propel the issues listed above.
    She was courageous in dealing with her residential school past, determined to improve opportunities for aboriginal young people, and happy if she inspired someone to reach for higher goals.
    Mary was intelligent, dedicated and caring. She loved sports, had a quick sense of humor and was one of the best friends anyone could hope to have. She will be missed more than words can say.

  • Marie Lundie said...

    Is there a ceremony or wake that anyone can attend?

    • Frank Young said...

      the wake services are on Monday the 27th, 7:30 – 9:30 pm, at Harrow United Church.

  • Ian Cull said...

    Mary was a wonderful friend, a beloved colleague and mentor to me. She was one of the great women in my life and I will miss her dearly.