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Date of Passing: Apr 05, 2019

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1924 - 2019

On Friday, April 5, 2019, Berenice Barbara Sisler (nee Warne) at the end of a full life of exceptional contribution.
She was predeceased by her husband George, and daughter-in-law Deanna. Survived by her daughter Lesley (Lewis St. George Stubbs); son John, and grandchildren, Aiden, Warne and Kieran.
Born in Winnipeg in 1924, Berenice was awarded the Governor-General's Medal upon graduation from East Kildonan Collegiate. In 1945 she graduated with a BA from United College where she held the office of Lady Stick. Berenice earned a Diploma in Education from the University of Manitoba in 1946 and the following year taught mathematics at Dauphin Collegiate. Apart from two years spent in Louisville, Kentucky for George's residency in psychiatry, and a sabbatical year in Lausanne, Switzerland, Berenice lived in Winnipeg.
Berenice was known locally and nationally as a feminist, volunteer and social activist. Her extensive volunteer community work included service to the Resident Advisory group of Assiniboine Park, Westminster Church, the Liberal Party and the University of Winnipeg - where she served as President of the Alumni Association and the alumni representative to the Board of Regents. In 1970 she received the Alumni 25th Anniversary Award; in 1990 an honorary degree. Her association with the YWCA was lengthy, her contributions recognized by life membership in the organization and a Woman of the Year Award (Public Affairs) in 1989.
Nationally Berenice served on the board of YWCA of Canada (1973 to 1977) and on the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women (1980 to 1984). During this appointment she wrote the CACSW presentation to the Parliamentary Task Force on Pension Reform.
In the 1970s Berenice was a driving force in the work of women's groups to reform family law legislation in Manitoba. She documented these efforts in her book 'A Partnership of Equals: The Struggle for the Reform of Family Law in Manitoba' published when she was 71. After working with the YWCA, the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, and the Coalition on Family Law, she joined the Charter of Rights Coalition (Manitoba) to further lobby on behalf of women's equality.
In recognition of her work to advance gender equality she was awarded Manitoba's Order of the Buffalo Hunt in 1985; in 1986 the Governor General's Commemoration of Persons Award. At the Spirit of Leadership event (2008) she was recognized along with four other extraordinary Manitoba women for her legacy of vision and action.
Berenice will be remembered as a loving mother and grandmother, an inveterate writer of letters to the editor, and a leader in the fight for reforms in family law legislation and pensions.
Her family would like to thank the staff at the Charleswood Care Centre for their kind and compassionate care.
A memorial service to celebrate Berenice's life will be held on Monday, April 22, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. in Westworth United Church, 1750 Grosvenor Avenue.
No flowers please. It was Berenice's wish that donations in her memory be sent to the University of Winnipeg Foundation, 901 - 491 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E4 or to the Westworth Fund, Westworth United Church, 1750 Grosvenor Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3N 0H9.

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As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Apr 11, 2019, Apr 13, 2019

Condolences & Memories (6 entries)

  • I knew Berenice years ago, when I was in my twenties, through the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women. She was a wonderful warm and friendly person, who cared deeply about improving the status of women in our society and culture, and, in particular, the law. Berenice was such a mentor to me and other young women at that time, and I will always appreciate her counsel and wisdom. - Posted by: Valerie Joy Gilroy (Acquaintance) on: Apr 29, 2019

  • Bernice was such an inspiration. Through the friendship with my mother, Jackie, I was the lucky recipient of their wise advocacy. Fierce feminists but kind hearted. I will be forever grateful for Bernice and George’s hospitality and treating this kid as a peer. I learned a lot! Together they made a very positive mark on Manitoba. RIP. - Posted by: Bobbi Taillefer (Friend) on: Apr 21, 2019

  • Berenice was feisty, forceful in her views, and had a great sense of humor-altogether an engaging woman. She and George were wonderful friends over many years, both in the Liberal Party and at Westworth United Church. I will miss her, as I have missed George since his passing. - Posted by: Paul Edwards (Friend) on: Apr 15, 2019

  • Berenice's name is one I recall having heard in so many positive ways over the years in the women's movement in Manitoba. She was a symbol of commitment and strong intelligent leadership to positive action. Her legacy in education and community service is a model for all who work for social justice. - Posted by: Laura Steiman (Admirer) on: Apr 13, 2019

  • A week does not go by that someone, often an older person, asks if I’m related to Berenice, and then proceeds to recount all of the ways she worked so hard to improve the lives of women and citizens in general through her activism. Very proud of my aunt and her life, so well lived. - Posted by: Jeff Sisler (Nephew) on: Apr 11, 2019

  • A very remarkable woman whose obituary speaks for itself. What it does not say was the incredible mentorship she gave to other women including me. She encouraged and supported me throughout my career urging me by her own work and yes letter writing campaigns to strive higher and harder. She was often honoured for her work but she also turned down honours recommending others in her stead. Her legacy lives on as women throughout Canada have rights and opportunities they would not have had if Bernice had not walked among us. - Posted by: Sharon Carstairs (Friend) on: Apr 11, 2019

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