May 15, 2015

McCaig-Killam Teaching Award honours Ann McCaig's 22 years of service

Having the heart, wisdom and lifelong commitment to transform education
Special guests at the award ceremony.

Special guests at the award ceremony.

MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall ©Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada represented by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General, 2015

  • Pictured above, from left, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada; Ann McCaig, CM, AOE, LLD  and Chancellor Emerita at the University of Calgary; President Elizabeth Cannon, PhD, FCAE, FRSC; and George T. H. Cooper, CM, QC, LLD. Managing Trustee of the Killam Trusts. 

Not everyone who has a great passion for changing the world has the dedication to see the challenge through for a lifetime. But for Ann McCaig, there are no shortcuts when it comes to giving kids and young people the chance to raise themselves up.

McCaig, a passionate community advocate, skilled businesswoman and past chancellor of the University of Calgary, has amassed volumes of awards for her work as an empowered philanthropist — and has just added another. On May 12, Canada’s Killam Trust named the McCaig-Killam Teaching Award in her honour as she steps down from her role as a trustee after 22 years. The announcement was made at the annual Killam Prize ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, which celebrates the path-finding scholars who expand the work of Canadian universities and promote international understanding. 

“To fully realize the potential of the Killam Trusts requires the wisdom and dedication of people like Ann McCaig. She brought passion and experience to our work in supporting top ranked, post-secondary students and professors, who are now spread all over the world. Their exceptional contribution to society through advanced study has helped fulfill the Killam dream of a better world,” said George T. H. Cooper, CM, QC, LLD, managing trustee, Killam Trust.

Killam Trusts are considered a national treasure

Larger than the Rhodes Trust, the Killam Trusts are considered a national treasure. The work they support is championed by the Governor General, David Johnston, who hosted the annual event that honoured McCaig with the teaching award that will be conferred annually at the University of Calgary. The award will recognize an academic staff member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching.

“The University of Calgary has been profoundly lucky to have Ann as part of our community for the better part of 30 years,” said President Elizabeth Cannon. “This award for excellence in teaching is an appropriate tribute in honour of her eminently insightful approach to building community and to her enduring value that learning is above all a life-transforming experience.”

McCaig’s wisdom for supporting and creating meaningful ways to set children and youth onto a better path showed itself early in life. Having established her first group home in the early 1960s in Regina, Saskatchewan — and then continuing a life-time of carefully considered community advocacy and support — she’s been called a social influencer for her unique gift for rallying communities together. But back then, she was just a young teacher who decided she was the one who could lead her community to provide support where it could have the most profound effect.

Turning adversity to advocacy

McCaig is no stranger to adversity herself — she found herself raising three children as a young widow in the late ‘60s. In turning her personal knowledge of adversity into a powerful form of advocacy, she quotes Eleanor Roosevelt as her inspiration: “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” She has lived this tenet throughout her life — including in her service as a Killam Trustee from 1993-2014.

McCaig also led many of the University of Calgary’s major campaigns, including as co-chair for the Delivering Results Campaign and as vice-chair for the Building on the Vision Campaign, as well as supporting the success of both the Reach! and Partners in Health campaigns. In recognition of all that she has contributed to the university, she was named an inaugural recipient of the University of Calgary Education Partnership Award and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 2004.

Jim Dinning will take Ann McCaig’s place as a trustee of the Killam Trust. Dinning, who also served as chancellor of the University of Calgary (2010 to 2014), brings broad, multi-sectoral experience to his new role.  A prominent Albertan with a distinguished record of public service, he serves as a chair and director of a variety of Canadian companies.  He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary in 2002.

About the Killams

Established in 1965 by Izaak Walton Killam and his wife Dorothy J. Killam, the Killam Trusts fund scholarships at the graduate and postgraduate levels in specific Canadian institutions. The Killam Trusts are one of the only private, philanthropic trusts for higher education in Canada.

Only five Canadian universities received benefactions under Mrs. Killam's Will: Dalhousie University, The University of Calgary, University of Alberta, The University of British Columbia, and the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University. The Canada Council for the Arts also received Killam funds, which are used for awards for researchers from all Canadian universities. The Canada Council's Killam Fellowships are valued at $70,000 a year and are tenable for two years, while the five Canada Council Killam Prizes, one each in Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities are worth $100,000 each. The jewel in the Killam crown are the Canada Council Killam Prizes which recognize lifetime contributions and are among Canada's most prestigious awards in these fields.