Shirley Render is a trailblazer, role model and mentor for many. She has been described as a visionary leader who has consistently been able to inspire and motivate others. Her CV is a testament to her tenacity, skills and success in all that she has done. Her range of skills has garnered the respect of friends and colleagues. Words such as inspiring, innovative, critical thinker, organized and collaborative best describe her. Her passion, boundless energy and her focus have been transferable throughout her career changes.
As a volunteer, social worker, licensed pilot, aviation historian, author, provincial legislator, executive director and curator, Render has had a significant impact on the city, province and country.
She helped to create (1960s) the visionary VON Home Help Program which eventually morphed into Manitoba’s Home Care program. Her volunteerism at the Aviation Museum in the 70s and 80s moved the Western Canada Aviation Museum into a nationally and internationally recognized museum with the Province of Manitoba awarding her the Prix Manitoba Award in 1990. Her professional work as the executive director and curator resulted in a “Royal” designation to the Museum in 2014 making it the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada – again bringing honor to the city, province and country. It is understandable why its board of directors honored her with the title Executive Director Emeritus when she retired.
Render is also Canada’s first professional female aviation historian (1984). She also authored two ground-breaking books on Canada’s aviation history. She unveiled the story of Canada’s “lost women pilots” that describe their evolution of roles in aviation and recorded their courage and perseverance as they fought for their careers. Her second book unearthed the truth of James A. Richardson’s foresight to create what should have been Canada’s national airline. Her research helped provide the proof for the re-naming of Winnipeg’s International Airport after Richardson.
Her dedicated work as St. Vital’s MLA and the first female MLA for St. Vital earned her the Winnipeg BIZ Association Exemplar Award in 1998 for leading the successful revitalization effort in Old St Vital. Render was the first MLA to receive this award. Normally the city does not give this award to a sitting MLA. Bringing to the City in 2014 the “Royal” designation for the Aviation Museum as well as revitalization work in St Vital were just two of the reasons for the city to name a park in St Vital after her in 2017 – Shirley Render Park.
Render’s outstanding contributions in the world of aviation brought her the honour to be inducted in 2020 into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame – another plus for our province since Render is the first woman from Manitoba to be so honoured. She is the only woman among three Canadian men being inducted in 2020. Since 1973, there have been 246 Canadians inducted of which 10 are women.