The McGill Women’s Alumnae Association (MWAA) holds a passionate vision, and its members have seen that vision through: to be the organization that demonstrates the positive impact of McGill alumnae on the University and its pluralistic community. In doing so, the MWAA nurtures relationships that bolster the entire McGill community.
The MWAA, at that time counting eight members, was established in its first form in 1888 through the desire of McGill’s first class of women students to continue fueling the strong relationships developed in university. This desire led to the formation of the Mu Iota Society in May 1889, which eventually became the McGill Alumnae Society in 1890.
From time to time the Alumnae Society lent its support to special projects where women’s aspirations could be supported. For example, in 1936-37 Alumnae petitioned the Senate of the University to admit women to the School of Architecture, and sent a resolution to the Montreal School Board asking for improved salaries for elementary teachers. The group would then go on to become a founding member of the Canadian Federation of University Women, acting as a liaison between McGill and women graduates everywhere.
In 1932, the MWAA Scholarship Fund was established, and now awards around $40,000 annually to women studying at McGill. Proceeds from bequests and donations allow the MWAA to keep awarding scholarships and bursaries year after year.
Throughout the years, the group has hosted a plethora of events including networking cocktails, toolbox series on financial planning, and insightful lectures. In particular, the Muriel V. Roscoe Lecture, established at their 100th anniversary, has stimulated debate on issues on which women have developed a special voice, for instance violence against women and girls around the world. This year, to mark their 125th anniversary, the MWAA is hosting a “friend-raiser” event for their Scholarship Fund called High Tea Couture, which will include a fashion show by Tanya Taylor BCom’07, a women leaders’ panel featuring Morna Flood-Consedine MEd’77, DEd’85, Maya Chivi MA’10 and scholarship recipient Christine Bataille, a silent auction and a high tea service.
From the humble beginnings of eight dedicated women striving for improvements in society, the MWAA has now grown to include all female graduates of the University among its membership. Under the current leadership of Sonia Mata, MSc’93, the board of directors continues to commit to the University’s growth by promoting academic excellence and providing mentorship to women.
The MWAA can be proud of its progress during its 125 years and can look forward to even greater accomplishments in the future.
Seen in the thumbnail photo at the top is Octavia Ritchie, BA 1888, was the first female valedictorian at McGill and later became the first woman doctor in Quebec. The Octavia Grace Ritchie England Scholarship, tenable in the Faculty of Science, was established in her memory in 1979.