150+ Canadians Day 44: Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon contributed to peace by creating Roots of Empathy, which teaches empathy through regular classroom visits from a baby and parent. #Canada150

“Caring for a baby helps children find the humanity in themselves and others.”

Mary Gordon is an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy.

In 1996 she created the Roots of Empathy program in Ontario. Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom program that reduces levels of aggression among schoolchildren by raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. Her not for profit organization of the same name now offers programs in every province of Canada, New Zealand, the USA, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany and Switzerland.

In 2006, the Dalai Lama expressed the opinion that programs like Roots of Empathy will build world peace. In 2008, Roots of Empathy was one of three winners in an international competition from Changemakers for programs that help youth at risk. Also in 2008, National Chief Phil Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution to support and endorse Roots of Empathy and Seeds of Empathy in First Nations schools across Canada.

Roots of Empathy is now also in classrooms in New Zealand, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland. Mary has received the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador (2012) and an Honourary Doctor of Laws from Memorial University (2015). Her brother is journalist, Gwynne Dyer.

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