The Very Reverend the Hon. Lois M. Wilson, C.C., OOnt

Lois Wilson is a minister, author, diplomat, former senator and advocate for human rights in the church, Canadian parliament and the world.

After graduating from United College (now The University of Winnipeg) in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master’s in Divinity (1950) and raising four children, Wilson was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada in 1965, where she ministered alongside her husband in Winnipeg, (1954-1960), Thunder Bay, (1960-1969), Hamilton (1969-1978) and Kingston (1978-1980).

Her impact within the United Church has been vast. Wilson was active in the World Council of Churches as a regional president and was also an advocate for the ecumenical movement (the unity of Christian churches). She is widely known for being the first woman moderator of the United Church of Canada from 1980-1982, paving the way -- as she often did -- for progressive developments within the church and its governance.

From 1983 to 1989 she served as co-director of the Ecumenical Forum of Canada and also served as a president of the Canadian Council of Churches (1976-1979) as well as the World Council of Churches (1983-1991).

She is recognized as a Companion of the Order of Canada and received the U.N. Pearson Peace Prize. Her efforts to see the world bettered did not only exist within her ministry at her church but expanded into the political and cultural world.

She is also a member of the Order of Ontario and a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which honoured her in 2014 for her public engagement. In 1998, Wilson was appointed to the Canadian Senate upon the recommendation of Jean Chrétien. She served in the chamber as an Independent until her retirement in 2002. She served as Chancellor of Lakehead University from 1991 to 2000.

Wilson has authored 10 books on topics such as ethics, interpretations of biblical stories and feminism. She has received 14 honorary degrees, including one from the United States. Lois Wilson, through speaking, writing, and advocating, has made a large impact on the development of Canadian human rights and social justice.

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