Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil libertarian (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY). Viola Desmond built a career and business as a beautician and was a mentor to young Black women in Nova Scotia through her Desmond School of Beauty Culture. It is, however, the story of her courageous refusal to accept an act of racial discrimination that provided inspiration to a later generation of Black persons in Nova Scotia and in the rest of Canada. In December 2016, it was announced that Desmond would be the first Canadian woman depicted on the face of a Canadian banknote — the $10 note in a series of bills released in 2018.1
Denise Anne Donlon, CM, music company executive, broadcast program director, producer, host, (born 22 February 1956 in Toronto, ON). Denise Donlon is one of Canada’s most innovative broadcasters and respected corporate leaders. She is renowned for incorporating music, journalism, social issues, and human rights advocacy in her work. Named Broadcast Executive of the Year three times at the Canadian Music Week Industry Awards, Donlon was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award at the 2018 Juno Awards in recognition of her contributions to the Canadian music industry. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Canadian Geographical Society, and a Member of the Order of Canada.
Marion Meadmore (née Ironquill), OC, Ojibwe-Cree, first Indigenous female lawyer in Canada, newspaper editor, community activist, founder and co-founder of national and Prairie Indigenous organizations (born in 1936 on the Peepeekisis reserve near Balcarres, SK.) She helped create the National Indian Council and co-founded the National Indigenous Council of Elders and the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada.
Arlene Dickinson, entrepreneur, business executive, television personality (born 8 October 1956 in Germiston, South Africa). Dickinson is best known as a star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den and as the CEO of Venture Communications Ltd., one of Canada’s largest independent marketing agencies. With a reported net worth of $80 million, Dickinson is one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs. Her success has been recognized by several honours and awards, such as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Bonnie Brooks, CM, retailer, department store executive (born 19 May 1953 in Windsor, ON). Brooks earned her MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University and also holds two honorary doctoral degrees. She is best known for her work modernizing retail department stores, including Hong Kong’s Lane Crawford, Canada’s Holt Renfrew and Hudson’s Bay, where she was the first woman to be appointed president and CEO. Brooks was later appointed as the first woman vice-chairman of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Heather Reisman, CM, entrepreneur, business executive (born 28 August 1948 in Montréal, QC). Reisman studied social work at McGill University and also holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees. She is best known as the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Indigo Books & Music, Canada's largest book and specialty toy retailer, and the co-founder of Kobo, a top global e-reader maker.
Annette Verschuren, OC, business executive, entrepreneur (born 24 June 1956 in North Sydney, NS). Verschuren studied business at St. Francis Xavier University and also holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees. Best known for her 15 years as the president of The Home Depot Canada, Verschuren co-founded Toronto energy-storage start-up NRStor in 2012 and serves as its chair and CEO. She has also been an active member of two national advisory councils to the Canadian government and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Glenna F. Hansen, Inuvialuit leader, businesswoman, health and education advocate, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories (b at Aklavik, 1956). Hansen was hired as an executive assistant by David Storr and Sons Contracting Ltd of Inuvik in 1990, and became general manager of the firm in 1996.