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Bryden Awards

2011 Bryden Award Winners

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 C. Ruby
Outstanding Contribution Gregory W.M. Cooper
Local Hero Sheila Forshaw
Redefine the Possible Eric Robert Walters
The One(s)-to-Watch Irene Sankoff and David Hein


Past Recipients

2011 Photo Gallery


Clayton Ruby

Pinnacle Achievement

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

Clayton Ruby (BA ’63) A passion for social justice makes Clayton Ruby one of Canada’s leading defence lawyers. A member of York’s first graduating class, Ruby earned a BA when the new University was still located at Glendon. 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, and also negotiated a settlement for the surviving Dionne quintuplets. Equally passionate as a defender of freedom of expression and environmentalism, Clayton Ruby epitomizes York’s ideal of enlightened, active engagement with the world in which we live.



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Outstanding Contribution

Dedication to the advancement of the University through exceptional service, commitment, and 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, Greg’s involvement with York only grew after graduation. He followed classmate Bruce Bryden as president of the Alumni Association and served on the Board of Governors for 17 years. His Chairmanship of the Building & Property Committee from 1987-1991—a period of tremendous growth and capital development—is renowned. According to one admirer: “It is time for this unsung hero to be sung.”



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Local Hero

A York alumnus and employee of the University who has gone beyond the call of duty

Sheila Forshaw (BSc ’83) Pound for pound, many say that Sheila Forshaw is the best women’s field hockey player Canada has ever produced. A fixture in the halls at Tait McKenzie, Sheila is just as well known across campus as a dedicated participant in numerous committees and activities at York. One of York’s most decorated student athletes, Sheila led the Yeowomen to two Ontario golds and two National silvers in field hockey and was twice named York's female athlete of the year. Returning to campus in 1995 to lead York’s Interuniversity athletics program, Sheila continues as a one-of-a-kind influence in Canadian athletics through her tireless leadership at Sport York and on national committees.



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Redefine the Possible

For leadership and successes which are innovative, unconventional and daring, embodying York's trailblazing motto "Redefine the Possible"

Eric Robert Walters (BA '79, BSW '82, MSW '86) Eric Walters began writing to entice his Grade 5 students into becoming more interested in reading and writing. Since then, he has published 68 novels for young people that have been translated into numerous languages and won more than 70 awards. His charitable work is equally impressive. Causes into which he has poured his talent and passion include 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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The One(s)-to-Watch

For remarkable professional and community accomplishments early in his or her career.

Irene Sankoff (BA ’99) and David Hein (BFA ’97) Irene Sankoff and David Hein burst onto the Toronto theatre scene with their extraordinary hit musical, My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding. Based on the true story of David’s mother, Wedding has seen tremendous success in Toronto and New York and is being licensed across North America. Irene and David’s “overnight” success was built upon their York education and years of dues-paying in the Toronto and New York theatre and music scenes. Willing to confront issues such as homophobia and with talent and drive to spare, the couple is destined to remain a cultural force for years to come.



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Bryden Awards History

These awards are inspired by Bruce Bryden (BA ’64), who was an exceptionally committed and influential leader at York. He was a member of our first undergrad class and held several prestigious positions, including founding president of the York University Alumni Association and member of the Board of Governors. It is for his vision and exemplary leadership that we named these awards after him.