The Broadbent Blog

February 14th Women's Memorial March Committee wins inaugural Jack Layton Progress Prize


The Broadbent Institute is about ideas and action, so when we set out to organize our second annual Progress Summit months ago, we decided to begin a new tradition: the creation of annual awards recognizing the work of a great campaigner and an important thinker who have made significant contributions to building a better Canada. 

This evening, we named the first recipients of the Charles Taylor Prize for Excellence in Policy Research and the Jack Layton Progress Prize.  In its inaugural year, the Taylor Prize was presented by Broadbent Institute Chair, Ed Broadbent, to eminent philosopher and author Charles Taylor himself. It will be given to other worthy recipients in subsequent years.  After a national call for nominations (which elicited nominations of exciting and successful campaigners from every corner of the country), the inaugural Layton Prize was awarded by Jack’s widow, Olivia Chow.

After careful consideration, we are thrilled to announce that the inaugural Jack Layton Progress Prize winner is the February 14th Women's Memorial March Committee.

Nominated by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the Prize recognizes the national impact of the Committee’s creation and hosting of a March that has drawn thousands of participants over the course of twenty-five years.

The first March was planned in response to a woman’s murder on Powell Street in Vancouver in January 1991, and continues on Valentine’s Day each year to honour the lives of missing and murdered women. The event is organized and led by women in the Downtown Eastside because women, especially Indigenous women, face physical, mental, emotional and spiritual violence on a daily basis. 

The Memorial March Committee is an integral and leading part of the support and advocacy network that exists to honour murdered and missing women. It is a fitting way to honour the life of and work of Jack Layton.

During his long career in public service, Layton was fond of a great campaign. Whether working with local environmentalists to erect a windmill on the Lake Ontario shore, co-founding the White Ribbon campaign for gender justice, shining a light on the scourge of homelessness, or running in multiple political campaigns at the municipal and federal levels, Layton loved nothing more than the creation of empowering efforts to rally people around a common cause.

In cooperation with Olivia Chow, the Broadbent Institute could not be more proud to honour the Memorial March Committee with this very first Layton Prize. The Committee exemplifies Layton’s ideals of justice and empowerment and its amazing efforts over the course of 25 years are helping turn the tide on a critical issue of our time.

Photo: joshuatree. Used under a Creative Commons BY-2.0