Michelle Swenarchuk (October 30, 1948 - February 27, 2008)

Feb 29 2008

CELA staff and Board members are deeply saddened to announce that our former Executive Director Michelle Swenarchuk passed away this week. Michelle has worked with CELA since 1986. She will be remembered for her pioneering work on the environmental impacts of trade agreements and on preventing the medical patenting of life forms in Canada in the Oncomouse Supreme Court case. In 2004, Michelle received the Law Society Medal for Lifetime Achievement, in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the field of public policy law, the highest honour bestowed by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Following is her obituary, as it appeared in the Globe and Mail, a link to the Globe's on-line guestbook, and information about a memorial service on April 6th.

(KAREN) MICHELLE SWENARCHUK (OCTOBER 30, 1948 - FEBRUARY 27, 2008) Michelle left us at dawn on February 27. Her beloved daughter Larissa was with her until the end. Michelle is also deeply mourned by her brother Lauren, sister Bonnie Zwack, and parents Michael and Janet of Calgary. Treasured aunt of Michael (Alyson, Annalise, Nicholas), Andrea (Michael, Lindsey and Julia) and Kathryn (Brian, Robbie, Jack). Michelle's many dear friends and colleagues already miss her warmth, loyalty, intelligence and integrity. We want to thank Dr. David Hedley, the Palliative Care team, and the staff of 17B at Princess Margaret Hospital for the compassionate care Michelle received.

An ardent feminist, Michelle was active in the women's movement for many years, including the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. Michelle worked as Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association and led a successful intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Harvard Oncomouse case. Michelle's work as a senior practitioner in environmental protection, international trade, Aboriginal rights, labour and administrative law and was recognized by her peers in 2004, when she was awarded the Law Society Medal for 'outstanding contributions to public policy law'.

Michelle's family, close friends and colleagues are invited to attend her funeral on Monday, March 3rd. A more public celebration of her life will be held in a month. Condolences to www.theglobeandmail.com/life/ deaths guestbook where details of the celebration will be posted soon. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to: Sistering - A Woman's Place (www.sistering.org), Amnesty International (www.amnesty.ca), or the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (www.mandela-children.ca).

On-line Guestbook

On Sunday April 6th at 1:30 PM, CELA staff and board members, friends and colleagues will gather. Friends who will map the legacies of Michelle’s life include Marjorie Cohen, Ursula Franklin, Rick Lindgren, Judith McCormack, and Mel Watkins. The event will be held at Wilson Hall, 2nd Floor Lounge, New College. 40 Willcocks Street, University of Toronto (NE Corner of Spadina Avenue and Willcocks Street).

Please RSVP to Sharon Fleishman at fleishms@lao.on.ca. Written tributes can be sent to the same email address to be gathered for Michelle’s daughter Larissa.