The week of Aug. 25 to 31 in the 2014 issue of Herstory: The Canadian Women’s Calendar, we feature Ruth Robinson, who attended the issue’s launch last fall. Join us at our launch for the 2015 calendar at McNally Robinson Saskatoon on Oct. 30!
Community organizer Ruth Robinson has devoted much of her adult life to work in the service of others. Born in Toronto on February 28, 1939, Ruth moved with her family to Saskatchewan in 1946 and Saskatoon in 1954. She attended the University of Saskatchewan, where she received her certification as a teacher. She lived and worked both in and outside Saskatchewan, before finally settling in Saskatoon with her family in 1975.
Ruth developed an interest in community-based activism early in life. She first joined the Consumers’ Association of Canada in 1967, when she lived in Regina. She has been actively involved in the association at the local, provincial, and national level, primarily addressing issues of safety with consumer goods. Through her work with the association, she became chair of the Saskatchewan Child Safety Committee, an advisory committee to the Minister of Health.
First working full time as a teacher at the elementary and high school level, and then later working full time raising her family, Ruth stepped more fully into community organizing in the late 1970s, when her children were older. She has been actively involved in a broad spectrum of community concerns since she moved to Saskatoon, including mental health issues, consumer rights, public safety, architectural heritage, education, women’s issues, and with her church.
In her volunteer work, Ruth has worked with individuals as well as with many organizations. Amongst her many charitable initiatives, Ruth coordinates a class for those with intellectual disabilities at her church, calling it a “great spiritual outreach of her faith community. As well as operating on a grassroots level, building relationships across ability and difference, Ruth has also formally advocated for systemic policy changes in Saskatoon. As part of the Anti-Poverty Coalition, she and others lobbied the City of Saskatoon to subsidize bus passes for low income families. In 2006, the City of Saskatoon introduced the discounted bus pass as a joint initiatives between the city and the province of Saskatchewan.
Ruth has received many accolades for her community organizing, including the 1992 Saskatoon Citizen of the Year, the 2004 Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal, and 2003 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. However, according to Ruth, such recognition was never the point: “It’s about building relationships, having fun, supporting one another, and trying to improve people’s lives.”
“I think supporting one another is more important than getting laws changed.” – Ruth Robinson, 2013.