Joy Maclaren was born into a tradition of promoting education and giving back to the community. Now, in death, her generosity to Carleton University lives on through the New Sun Joy Maclaren Adaptive Technology Centre and a new work of art, dedicated in her honour, which will hang on the centre’s walls.
Heather Cross, co-ordinator of library services for students with disabilities, commissioned the work from fellow librarian and subject specialist Susan Tudin, who has been an artist for the past 10 years.
Maclaren, a “quiet activist” who championed higher education and minority rights, was a significant benefactor to Carleton University. A member of its Board of Governors from 1985 to 1993, she supported Aboriginal people, as well as the Adaptive Technology Centre, which provides students with disabilities an exclusive place to study using technology adapted to their needs.
“(Maclaren)’s contributions to the library over the years really helped with the success of the students,” said University Librarian Wayne Jones during a ceremony held April 10 to dedicate Tudin’s new acrylic painting. “I see the tangible effects day-to-day.”
Cross, who met Maclaren on a few occasions during her visits to the centre, added, “It’s just wonderful that there are people like that who care so deeply about helping others.”
Diane Maclaren, Maclaren’s niece and personal assistant for many years, said she was “overwhelmed with the appreciation Carleton has shown in all the different ways they have recognized the things she did.”
Through tears, Maclaren spoke of the painting as an “all-encompassing” perspective of Maclaren’s “big ideas, big thoughts and big actions.” The art, she said, “has the peace. It has the grandeur. And it reminds me of the view from her beach at her beloved cottage in the Gatineau.”
Tudin, who has named the work “Joyous New Sun,” said she was deeply honoured to have the opportunity to create the painting.
“I wanted it to reflect in some way the large contributions of (Maclaren). I chose the expansive sky, the rising sun gleaming off water, because it felt very jubilant and all-embracing.”
Keenly aware of Maclaren’s generosity, Tudin said, “I feel she was one of Carleton University’s true visionaries.”
Maclaren was bestowed with the Aboriginal name “New Sun” in 1995 at a Naming Ceremony on campus. She also received the Order of Canada in 2010 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medallion in 2012. Carleton presented Maclaren with the Founders Award in 2005, and in 2011 the university conferred an honorary doctorate “in recognition of outstanding contributions to Carleton University, the advancement of minority rights and support of Aboriginal and Inuit culture and education.”
She died in November 2014 at the age of 92.
President Roseann Runte said during the dedication ceremony that Maclaren was a brilliant and thoughtful individual, with a care for details that made her extraordinary.
“She will last forever in our hearts and in our memories and in the people who will be able to pursue education because of her contributions.”