Norma McCoy, Past President
Norma is a native of Ottawa and is an educator, facilitator and mentor. She has been the guiding force of the OK Clean Water Project since it began in 2003.
On July 22, 2010 Norma died in hospital after a brief illness. Her belief in life-long learning and quiet advocacy continued to her last days. At age 73, when many people are beginning to wind down, Norma was winding up to meet another challenge – the need for clean water in Kumbo, Cameroon, Africa. To meet this need she gathered and led a group to work on raising funds to make the dream of clean water a reality. This group, now the OK Clean Water Project, will endeavour to continue in her spirit. Norma was truly a Renaissance woman. She will be sorely missed.
Since Norma’s death many tributes to her have been received, each of them describing the work she has done and the impact she has had.
Excerpts from some of these tributes are:
“The OECTA’s (Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association) organization of a secondary school unit in Ottawa was one of the many of Norma’s projects. Her quiet determination coupled with her tenacity and persevering approach to tasks…were all undertaken with vigour. Her many successes are a marvellous testament to her desire to contribute to the well-being of others.”
- Frank Kavanagh with Mary Ellen Daly
“With her creative good humour she had an uncanny way of getting her point across…Norma had the ability to see the contradictions of life and connect them with keenness. This lady was a no-nonsense girl as far as outmoded, unintelligent and uncritiqued rules went. We all learned so much from her.”
- Pauline Lally, sp.
“At an age when most people consider retirement, Sr. Norma sought out a position at a brand new secondary school in eastern Toronto, thus becoming a founding member of Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School in 1985. While her initial assignment was as a religion and mathematics teacher as well as school chaplain, her contributions far exceeded any defined role…Deceptively quiet and unassuming, Sr. Norma had a powerful influence on staff and students. Many times her gift of ‘presence’ to others, along with her perspective on the things that were really important gave hope in times of adolescent turbulence or adult angst. Diminutive in stature, but by no means in nature, Sr. Norma, through her wisdom, sense of humour and joy, left an indelible mark on the Mary Ward community, one that remained long after she left in 1990 to pursue the next phase of her life’s journey.”
- Mary Anne O’Leary
“Norma was a passionate woman for justice. She was tireless in her commitment to make a difference, whether it was taking the time to talk to the homeless person on the corner of Broadview and Danforth, washing and ironing clothes to take to the women’s shelter, or campaigning for political change. Norma was driven by a kind of anger in her belly that would not settle for less than her best effort to address wrongs. It’s not that she would preach about things, she just went ahead and did what she felt to be right. You could tell by the flash of determination in her eyes when a raw nerve was hit.
But Norma’s passion for justice was always tempered with a robust sense of humour and most of all an untiring generous spirit.”
- Dorothy McDougall
“Norma’s giftedness as an educator found new expressions after her “retirement” from her beloved Mary Ward Secondary School…Catholic New Times, a national, independent newspaper…with its community of dedicated and extraordinary volunteers, was an ideal match for one of the most respected educators in the province. Her passion for justice, her extensive knowledge and range of interests and her lively wit and charm found a home in the bustling hub of activity as the paper cycled through its bi-weekly schedule of planning, writing, proofreading and production, culminating on “press night”….Whether it was fundraising (which she was very good at) or strategic planning for the future, Norma attracted others to give their best…”
- Anne O’Brien