Gary Warner named Hamilton’s Citizen of the Year


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”Gary Warner is Hamilton’s 2005 Royal Bank Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award. Photo credit: Chantall Van Raay”]It has been a notable year for McMaster's Gary Warner. On the heels of receiving the Order of Canada, the professor of linguistics and French has been named Hamilton's Distinguished Citizen of the Year.

Warner was selected among six recipients (three from McMaster) last night to receive the 2005 Royal Bank Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award.

“To be honest, the announcement left me in a state of shock,” Warner told the Daily News. “As someone who emigrated to Hamilton just under 39 years ago, I am deeply touched to be adopted intimately into the Hamilton community in this way.”

Other nominees included McMaster President Peter George, McMaster psychiatrist Jean Clinton, Santa Claus parade organizer Ed Cummings, and volunteers Timothy Peter Woods and Nathalie Xian Yi Yan.

Warner was selected for the award for raising awareness of human rights, equity and social justice issues.

His McMaster career spans 39 years. Recently completing a five-year term as director of the interdisciplinary Arts & Science Program, he has taught courses on French African and Caribbean literature, on French language and 17th-Century literature, as well as on peace and international development at McMaster.

He has been active internationally and within the Hamilton community for more than three decades on issues related to international development. The 65-year-old Trinidad-native did development work in West Africa and chaired the board of Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO), which helps new Canadians adapt to Hamilton. He spent two years with the aid agency CUSO in Sierra Leone in the late 1970s and was Ontario's representative to the CUSO board in the late 1980s.

He chaired the Strengthening Hamilton's Community Initiative Working Committee for three years and now co-chairs the Advisory Committee for the Civic Centre project.

Warner was awarded Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement last fall when Governor General Michaelle Jean named Warner to the Order of Canada at Rideau Hall.

In 1998, he received the Hamilton Black History Month J.C. Holland Award and, in 2002, he shared the World Citizenship Award from the Hamilton Mundialization Committee with his wife of 38 years, activist Joy. She is regional co-ordinator of the ecumenical justice group KAIROS.

“I see this award as setting the tone for the economically, socially and culturally diverse community that encourages opportunities for individuals, reduces inequities and ensures full participation for all in community life envisaged by Hamilton's Vision2020,” Warner says. “Coming as it does on the eve of the start of Black History Month and of the tenth anniversary of the John C. Holland Awards Gala, it fills me with awe to be following in the path trod by John Christie Holland.”

Tamara Hoppe

In 2004, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the McMaster Students Union and last year was honoured by the Afro-Canadian Communities at an October reception for being named to the Order of Canada.

Peter George was nominated for helping promote the social value of higher education and has earned a reputation as a champion of the city. Jean Clinton was nominated for her work with children and families in Hamilton.

Dundas teenager Tamara Hoppe was named The Hamilton Spectator Youth Volunteer of the Year. The 17-year-old was selected from six nominees.

Hoppe, a Grade 12 student at Highland Secondary School, is the daughter of McMaster's Fred Hoppe, a professor of mathematics and statistics.

(With files from the Hamilton Spectator)