Completed applications must be submitted to the Fergusson Foundation’s Executive Director, Rebecca Francis firstname.lastname@example.org by February 29, 2024
About the Award
The Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award was created in 1992 to recognize outstanding contributions toward preventing and eliminating family violence in Canada.
The Award recognizes an individual, group, organization, business, corporation or workplace that has furthered the prevention and elimination of family violence. The Award is presented annually during a special public function of the Foundation to commemorate the birthday of the Foundation’s Patron, Muriel McQueen Fergusson.
Canadian individuals or organizations whose achievements have advanced the prevention and elimination of family violence are eligible for nomination. All nominations should be in the same format as per the nomination form above and supported by two letters of recommendation.
The Award recipient is selected by a committee of the Foundation’s Board of Directors representatives based on the information provided by the nominators. The Fergusson Foundation reserves the right to verify the accuracy of the information provided in the submission. Nominees not chosen in the first year are retained and will be considered for the Award for the next two years.
The Award itself was designed and produced by Carole Cronkite of Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada’s first female pewtersmith.
The Award is made entirely by hand using only basic tools. Different gauges of sheet pewter are layered to create a three-dimensional effect. The four-piece logo is cut out with a delicate jewelers saw, filed, soldered, etched and shaded to produce the finished award.
The design of the Award is intended to symbolize the many faces of violence.
In addition, the Award recipient selects a registered charity, whose objectives further the goals of the Foundation, and the Foundation makes a $1,000 donation in their name.
New Brunswick’s Lieutenant-Governor and the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award
Founding member of the Fergusson Foundation and former Lieutenant-Governor Margaret Norrie McCain helped set the tone for the involvement of the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor in supporting the quest to eliminate family violence. For many years the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor has graciously allowed the Foundation to hold the Award presentation ceremony at Government House. Other Lieutenant-Governors including Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, Herménégilde Chiasson, Graydon Nicholas and Jocelyne Roy-Vienneau have continued this support. In 2020, the Honourable Brenda Murphy became an active participant with the Foundation’s work by accepting the role as Honorary Patron of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award.
Government House is the official residence to the Lieutenant-Governor but is also open to the public and receives thousands of visitors on an annual basis. The Award is now displayed at Government House allowing visiting Canadians, dignitaries, monarchy, heads of state, countless tours of school children and many others all to see these examples of outstanding Canadians, organizations and businesses who have helped further the elimination of family violence.
- 1993 June Callwood
- 1994 Dr. Peter Jaffe
- 1995 Margaret Norrie McCain
- 1996 Sister Cecile Renault (posthumously)
- 1997 Dr. Donald G. Dutton
- 1998 ‘Making Waves’
- 1999 The Body Shop Canada
- 2000 Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre
- 2001 Dr. Sandra Byers
- 2002 Rina Arseneault
- 2003 Red Cross RespectED
- 2004 Senator Sharon Carstairs and Margaret Newall
- 2005 Margaret-Ann Blaney
- 2006 Penny K. Ericson
- 2007 Madeleine Delaney-LeBlanc
- 2008 Bernard Richard
- 2009 Rona Brown
- 2010 Native Women’s Association of Canada
- 2011 White Ribbon Campaign
- 2012 Ghosts of Violence
- 2013 Dr. Nancy Nason-Clark
- 2014 Sigrid Rolfe & Dr. Philip Smith
- 2015 Family Enrichment and Counselling Service
- 2016 Julie Devon Dodd
- 2017 C. Anne Crocker, C.M.
- 2018 Maryse Rinfret-Raynor
- 2019 Dr. Judith Wuest
- 2021 Dr. Linda C. Neilson
- 2022 Dr. Deborah Doherty
- 2023 Debrah Westerburg
The Fergusson Foundation was honoured to recognize Debrah Westerburg,
as the 30th recipient of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation Award.
November 16, 2023 (Fredericton, N.B.) – The Fergusson Foundation presented the 30th MMFF Award to Debrah Westerburg during a ceremony at Government House.
Created in 1992 to recognize outstanding contributions toward the prevention and elimination of family violence in Canada, the MMFF Award is presented annually to an individual, group or organization that has significantly contributed to that end.
The Fergusson Foundation was pleased to acknowledge Debrah Westerburg for her exemplary leadership and commitment to the prevention and elimination of family violence.
“Debrah’s lifetime commitment to empowering women and working to eliminate family violence is nothing short of inspiring. From her pivotal role in establishing Sanctuary House to her relentless pursuit of accessible solutions for addressing intimate partner violence, we are honoured to recognize Debrah as she continues to make a significant difference in the lives of countless survivors.” said Danika Carleton, Chair of the Fergusson Foundation’s Grants & Awards Committee. “
Sonja Perley, President of the Fergusson Foundation, said “This year’s recipient has made incredible contributions to the domestic/intimate partner violence sector in New Brunswick. Debrah Westerburg’s dedication, leadership and hard work were instrumental in the development of countless programs, resources, and services for survivors of domestic/intimate partner violence in New Brunswick. The many resources she helped develop continues to impact survivors and those working in the violence prevention and intervention sector. Debrah is an inspiration to us all and I am thrilled she is this year’s recipient.”
In accepting the Award, Ms. Westerburg said “I appreciate the recognition of this award and am sharing the honour with others in the movement. I want to acknowledge the courageous women, struggling with abuse in their lives, who reach out at a time when they are the most vulnerable. Equally, I want to acknowledge front line workers from transition houses and second-stage facilities, who, with few resources, carry out daily the complex and intimate job of trying to support women and children facing the unknown as they work at rebuilding their lives.”
In honour of Ms. Westerburg’s contributions, the Fergusson Foundation will provide a donation to Woodstock Sanctuary House. To learn more visit https://www.sanctuaryhouse.ca/
In 1990, after a lifetime of exploring different aspects of women’s community, Debrah helped to establish Sanctuary House, a transition house in the small town of Woodstock and acted as its director until 2012. During this time, Debrah was devoted to finding ways of talking about the complex issue of domestic/intimate partner/family & gender-based violence using language and examples that everyone could understand. Debrah’s work helped illustrate the challenges of struggling with abuse in an intimate relationship and focused on helping others learn how to support a friend, co-worker or family member.
In 1997, Debrah partnered with Deborah Doherty, Executive Director or PLEISNB, to co-create the booklet “Spousal Assault”-What Victims Want and Need from the Police and did a series of workshops around the province that brought together police, RCMP and frontline workers from transition houses and second stage facilities.
In the years that followed, Debrah did hundreds of presentations to groups of women throughout rural New Brunswick on the dynamics of abuse in relationships, taught abuse protocol training and delivered conferences on a myriad of issues dealing with abuse and violence in intimate relationships.
Debrah’s most treasured work was creating dynamic dating violence prevention opportunities for local teens. This included many years collaborating with Katimavik teams working in Woodstock, who helped her spread positive messages and dating violence prevention and healthy relationships using drama and skits.
Deborah’s work with Katimavik led her to collaborating on the creation of the Making Waves Project. Coordinated for youth by youth, Making Waves seeks to promote healthy relationships while helping participants develop their leadership skills. In addition to administering this program for teens, the Making Waves team presented at international conferences and developed the Making Waves – Making a difference – student manual on dating violence and A Resource Book for teachers and guidance counsellors on teen dating violence.
Debrah was the lead in the production of Building on our Strengths, a 500-page crisis intervenor training manual (and companion workbook) used throughout the province in all transition houses and has also written several other resources, including a Department of Education online resource entitled Making a Difference – A Resource for Educators, when dealing with children where family violence and relationship abuse is a factor.
After “retiring” from Sanctuary House, Debrah became the coordinator of the New Brunswick South Central Transition House & Second Stage Coalition, sat on the Advisory Board of Women’s Shelters Canada for several years and was a part of the Expert Working Group on Recognizing Critical Expertise in Gender Based Violence, who worked to identify a national set of core capacities designed to assist gender-based violence organizations as they continue to design and implement sustainable and relevant training to strengthen collaborative community responses.
Debrah considers herself extremely fortunate to be able continue to learn from, support and share with the passionate, hard-working women who work in this sector. She also feels lucky to be inspired by the women she has met through her work in the shelter – especially their honesty, resiliency, and courage.
This work, her life experiences, and the relationships she developed with hundreds of women over her lifetime have led her to feel incredible gratitude for the knowledge she has gained and extraordinary appreciation for being involved in this work – a career of a lifetime.