McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Susan Birnie receives Governor General's award for volunteerism

Story and photo by Tina Depko

Published: July 11, 2017
Susan Birnie

Susan Birnie – director of education services and recipient of the Governor General's Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers

The Governor General of Canada has recognized a top McMaster administrator for her long and exceptional service as a volunteer.

Susan Birnie, director of education services for the Faculty of Health Sciences, was surprised with the Governor General's Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers at a recent Girl Guides of Canada annual meeting.

The prestigious award recognizes the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians in a wide range of fields.

She has been a volunteer at all levels of the Girl Guide organization since 1984, and she is currently the provincial commissioner for the combined Ontario/Nunavut region. 

"There are many people who are very dedicated to the organization, so to receive the award was a tremendous honour," said Birnie.

Birnie said she was pleasantly surprised by the recognition at the dinner in Fredericton, N.B.

"I was called to the front of the room, which was filled with over 200 people, and I really didn't know what to expect," she said.

"The chief commissioner spent more than 10 minutes talking about my accomplishments with Girl Guides, which was incredibly humbling, and then she presented me with the medal.

"I think it is very important to advance the leadership skills of girls in an inclusive, all-female environment," she noted. "It feels good to give back to such a wonderful organization focused on girl power."

The medal comes on the heels of her President's Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded in May this year for her many accomplishments during her 40 year career at McMaster.

Volunteerism will continue to be a focus for Birnie after her retirement from McMaster on Oct. 31. She said she looks forward to having more time to dedicate to the Girl Guides of Canada.

But Birnie notes she will visit McMaster regularly.

"There are some fantastic people here and I will find a way to keep connecting with them," she said.

"And, a number of people have asked me who they are going to get their Girl Guides cookies from now that I'm retiring, so I'll have to come in selling boxes a few times a year."


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