Mary Scott is a dynamic advocate for social justice working for women’s equality both in Canada and in developing countries. She represented Canada on the world stage as an advocate for women and has been a steadfast ally for Indigenous women on the issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Scott was born in Winnipeg in 1938. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts (1959) and a Bachelor of Social Work (1960) from the University of Manitoba. She also obtained a Master’s of Natural Resources Management (1981) from the University of Manitoba with her area of study focusing on the impact of resource development on the lives of Indigenous peoples.
As a young woman, Mary’s community work at the North End Y and Agape Table focused on improving conditions for marginalized women and children. Her work at Employment and Immigration Canada (later Human Resources Development Canada) was a women’s centered approach to service provision. She developed pre-trades training for women, leading to upgrading and eventual apprenticeship/trades training with Red River College.
She launched initiatives to improve access to employment for Indigenous women and equal access to training in the trade occupations. She headed up the Manitoba Re-entry program, supporting women reentering the work force.
Scott served as a director with the Health Sciences Centre and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Boards, as an advocate with the Women’s Health Clinic and also as an advisor to the Birthing Center. All this while balancing a family life and raising three daughters.
Scott has been a long-standing member of the University Women’s Club of Winnipeg and has held various leadership positions in the organization, including president. She was also a member of the Councils of Women, serving as president at the local, provincial and national level. She led the delegation for the National Council of Women of Canada to annual meetings of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.
In 1995, the 4th World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace took place in Beijing, China. Mary was chosen as the Canadian Federation of University Women’s delegate to attend the conference. She was able to support learning opportunities for women in accessing the internet in those early days.
In 1998, Mary received the YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction Award and in 2012, she received the YM-YWCA Babs Friesen Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her dedication to improving the lives of women and providing them with a voice at a local, provincial and national level.
In 2009, she received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case. When the historic 100th anniversary of the CFUW held its “The Power of Women Working Together” conference in Winnipeg in August 2019, Scott was one of the Winnipeg members who received a Notable Woman Award.
Scott and Senator Marilou McPhedran co-founded the Institute for International Women’s Rights – Manitoba in 2013, an EOSOC accredited organization with the UN, which advocates for the human rights of all women.