Cape Breton Women Series: Mrs. Ruth Goldbloom, O.C.


October 10th, 2011

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to continue with the second in my series on influential Cape Breton women. Since October is celebrated as Women's History Month, I cannot think of a better time to continue this series.

In my last statement about strong Cape Breton women, I mentioned how our communities and where we come from can shape us. This, I am noticing, is a recurring theme and continues to be true. Believe me; it is not difficult to find the names of strong Cape Breton women by whom I am inspired.

I am sure many of you, when asked, have a very specific answer to the question, ''Where do you come from?'' In all honesty, this wonderful country of ours is so young that we do not have to trace too far back in our family lines to find a boat in a port somewhere in Europe, Asia, the Middle East or Africa. Many of us know where that spot is, but some of us do not. My maiden name, MacKinnon, should indicate to you that my particular family history does not put my ancestors on the streets of Russia. My subject for today, however, only has to go back one generation to find her story on those streets.

Ruth Goldbloom is someone who has done a great deal to help Canadians preserve that integral part of their history. Her efforts with Pier 21 reassures new Canadians that they do not have to give up the part of themselves essential to who they are in order to be part of our country.

Ruth was born in New Waterford, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She was one of six children born to Rose Schwartz, a Russian immigrant to Cape Breton, who was widowed at a young age. It was her mother's work ethic and dedication to community that was impressed on Ruth and led her to become a lifelong volunteer and fundraiser. Ruth attended Mount Allison University and is a graduate of McGill University. During her time in Montreal, she served as a board member for several education and community groups. When she moved to Halifax in 1967, Ruth continued these efforts, including becoming the first woman to chair the Metro United Way Campaign.

Ruth has served as Chair of the Board of Mount Saint Vincent University, Regent of Mount Allison University, and Chair of Dalhousie University's Annual Fund. She is currently Chancellor Emeritus of the Technical University of Nova Scotia, a board member of the Halifax Waterfront Development Corporation, and a board member of the Foundation for Heritage and the Arts.

Ruth Goldbloom has received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University, Mount Saint Vincent University, Nova Scotia Community College, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Mount Allison University, as well as the University of King's College. She has been the recipient of the Human Relations Award of the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, the Volunteer of the Year Award of the Centre for the Advancement and Support of Education, Washington, D.C., as well as Canada's One Hundred Twenty-fifth Anniversary Commemorative Medal.

Her community and national service was recognized in 1992, when she was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Subsequently, in 1997, she received the National Harmony Award, which was followed in 1999 by the Canadian Hadassah-Wizo's Women of Achievement Award. In that same year she was named to the honour roll of Maclean's magazine. In January she was promoted to officer within the Order of Canada. Ruth has raised millions of dollars in support of health, education and cultural institutions.

Honourable senators, Ruth Goldbloom is not only a strong Cape Breton woman, but represents strong Canadian women. She has set an incredible example of what it means to give back. Through her tireless efforts she has helped us to celebrate what it means to be Canadian and to celebrate a unique aspect of our country, of which we are so proud; that is, to not only recognize diversity within our country but to appreciate and value it. Our being here today is indicative of that.

Honourable senators, I look forward to continuing to share with you the stories of other great, strong Cape Breton women.