2011 Bryden Award Recipients

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A series of awards presented each year to grads who have attained extraordinary achievements and made remarkable contributions to York and to their communities.

Pinnacle Achievement Clayton Ruby
Outstanding Contribution Gregory Cooper
Local Hero Sheila Forshaw
Redefine the Possible Eric Robert Walters
One to Watch Irene Sankoff and David Hein


Clayton Ruby Pinnacle Achievement

A graduate who has achieved distinction in their field and whose integrity and ability inspires alumni, faculty, staff and students

Clayton Ruby (BA ’63)

A member of York’s first graduating class, Clayton Ruby’s passion for social justice has made him one of Canada’s leading defence lawyers. His remarkable legal career has often placed him in the public spotlight. He represented both Donald Marshall Jr. and Guy Paul Morin, two of this country’s best-known victims of wrongful conviction. He also negotiated a settlement for the surviving Dionne quintuplets.

Equally passionate as a defender of freedom of expression and environmentalism, Ruby epitomizes York’s ideal of enlightened, active engagement with the world in which we live.

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Gregory Cooper Outstanding Contribution

A graduate who has dedicated their work to the advancement of York through exceptional service, commitment and/or contributions

Gregory Cooper (LLB ’69)

Greg Cooper’s biography reads almost like a history of York itself. A member of the University’s first undergraduate class in 1960, he subsequently pursued a law degree at Osgoode Hall Law School, seeing it become York’s Faculty of Law in his final year.

Despite a busy legal career, Cooper’s involvement with York only grew after graduation. He followed classmate Bruce Bryden as president of the alumni association and served on the York University Board of Governors for 17 years. He is renowned for his chairmanship of the Building & Property Committee from 1987-1991, a period of tremendous growth and capital development.

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Sheila Forshaw Local Hero

A graduate and employee who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in their devotion to the University with contributions, achievements, leadership and/or early accomplishments

Sheila Forshaw (BSc ’83)

One of the best women’s field hockey players Canada has ever produced, Sheila Forshaw is a fixture in the halls of York’s Tait McKenzie Centre. She is equally well known across the campus as a dedicated participant in numerous committees and activities.

As a decorated student athlete, Forshaw led the Yeowomen to two provincial golds and two national silvers in field hockey. She was twice named York’s female athlete of the year. Returning to campus in 1995 to lead York’s interuniversity athletics program, Forshaw has continued to champion for Canadian athletics through her tireless leadership at Sport York and on national committees.

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Eric Robert Walters Redefine the Possible

A graduate who has demonstrated leadership and successes that are innovative, unconventional and daring

Eric Robert Walters (BA ’79, BSW ’82, MSW ‘86)

Eric Walters is the author of many acclaimed and bestselling novels for children and young adults. He began writing to entice his Grade 5 students into becoming more interested in reading and writing. Since then, his novels have won numerous awards and received honours from the Canadian Library Association Book Awards and UNESCO’s international award for Literature in Service of Tolerance.

Walters’ charitable work is equally impressive. He has poured his talent and passion into a wide variety of causes, including boys’ literacy, the Terry Fox Foundation, Uganda Guluwalk, Free the Children and his own project, the Creation of Hope, which he established after witnessing the shocking poverty of children living in the mountains near Nairobi.

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Irene Sankoff One to Watch

A graduate who has become a remarkable professional and/or achieved community accomplishments early in their career

Irene Sankoff (BA ’99) and David Hein (BFA ’97)

Irene Sankoff and David Hein have been a driving force behind the theatre and music scenes in North America. After spending their dues-paying years in Toronto and New York, the husband-and-wife team burst onto the Toronto theatre scene with their extraordinary hit musical My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, which the couple wrote, produced and starred in.

Based on the true story of Hein’s mother, Wedding has seen tremendous success in Toronto and New York and is being licensed across North America.

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