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Mary Gordon receives the Governor General’s Innovation Award

By May 15, 2018July 29th, 2020No Comments

News Release
Monday May 14, 2018


We are very pleased to announce that Roots of Empathy Founder and President Mary Gordon has received the Governor General’s Innovation Award. Ms. Gordon will receive the award May 23, 2018 at Rideau Hall, Ottawa.

The awards “recognize and celebrate outstanding Canadian individuals, teams and organizations – trailblazers and creators who contribute to our country’s success, who help share our future and who inspire the next generation…building an inclusive, compassionate society will be the keys to Canada’s success as a caring, efficient and prosperous nation.”

Social entrepreneur Mary Gordon is undoubtedly a trailblazer whose mission has been to build caring, civil and peaceful societies. Her first innovation was creating Canada’s first school based parenting programs, Ontario’s Parenting and Family Literacy Centres, which have been replicated around the world.

“Early on I witnessed families suffering through domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect. The common denominator was the absence of empathy. I wanted to prove that birth is not destiny. I started Roots of Empathy to give children the opportunity to spend a whole year with a deep connection to a neighbourhood parent and infant who naturally demonstrate secure attachment and attunement, and are the best model of empathy in the world.”

Ms. Gordon envisioned empathy as a peace pill that could go beyond the classroom to the boardroom and the war room, and thus created Roots of Empathy in 1996. At the heart of the program are a neighbourhood parent and baby who visit a classroom over the course of a school year. A Roots of Empathy Instructor coaches the students to observe the baby’s development and to label the baby’s feelings. In this experiential learning, the baby is the “teacher” and a catalyst to help children identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others – empathy. The Instructor, using an accredited curriculum, also teaches a class the week before and after each family visit. Independent research confirms the impact of this unprecedented program and its success in reducing aggression and bullying and increasing empathy, fostering greater kindness, co-operation and sharing among students. The program has been replicated in schools across Canada and in ten other countries.

Mary Gordon is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, the recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee Medals, has an Honourary Doctorate from Memorial University and is Canada’s first Ashoka Fellow.


For more information or to interview Mary Gordon, please contact: Cheryl Jackson, Roots of Empathy Director, Communications and Marketing: cjackson@rootsofempathy.org

To learn more about Roots of Empathy, please visit rootsofempathy.org

To read more about the Governor General’s Innovation Awards, please visit https://innovation.gg.ca