media release

Well-known feminist earns Thakore award

September 26, 2013

Lee Lakeman, 604.253.1597,
Sandra Zink, SFU’s Institute for the Humanities, 778.782.5855,
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,


The 2013 annual Thakore Visiting Scholar Award, co-presented by Simon Fraser University, goes to Lee Lakeman, a longtime former collective member and staffer at Vancouver’s Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter (VRRWS).  SFU’s Institute for the Humanities and its JS Woodsworth Chair, the India Club of Vancouver and the Thakore Charitable Foundation bestow the award on people who emulate qualities valued by Mahatma Gandhi.

The Indian leader, assassinated in 1948, was committed to realizing truth, justice and political freedom through non-violent measures, such as peaceful civil disobedience.

Since the early 1970s, when she first discovered the extent of violence against women globally, Lakeman has worked tirelessly to shelter female victims of violence and fight for their societal rights.

Her on-the-ground protection of abused women as a VRRWS worker (1978-2013) and pursuit of their social, economic and legal equality through organized protests, published articles and legal advocacy exemplify community engagement on a global scale.

A teacher by training with a background in journalism, Lakeman directly, and in collaboration with others, responded to some 40,000 abused female callers to the VRRWS. She personally trained more than 1,000 women as equality activists.

During her tenure as the regional representative of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (1990-2012), Lakeman informed Supreme Court decisions concerning violence against women. In Canada, three criminal law amendments framed with the benefit of her equality analysis have withstood the test of time and constitutional analysis.

Lakeman helped establish and foster feminist activity as far afield as Russia, India and Ecuador. She has collaborated with feminists from England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Australia.  “Once again an independent women’s movement is gathering steam. But this time she is transnational and she is contemplating what to do with violent men everywhere,” says the feminist who pioneered one of Canada’s first transition houses in Ontario.

After accepting the Thakore award, Lakeman will deliver this year’s Gandhi Commemorative Lecture, What Way Forward to End Male Violence Against Women?, on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Her award presentation and lecture will be in Segal Rooms 1420/1430 at SFU’s downtown Harbour Centre campus. Reservations are required:

Since the unveiling of Gandhi’s memorial bust at Peace Square, SFU’s Burnaby campus, in 1970, the Thakore award’s founders have honoured Gandhi’s life and legacy at an annual Gandhi Commemorative Garlanding Ceremony.

It takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 2, Gandhi’s birthday, at 6:45 p.m. The ceremony will also feature a presentation of the Gandhi Student Peace Award.

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

Thakore Award Backgrounder

  • What: Gandhi Commemorative Lecture
  • When: Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Where: Segal Rooms 1420/1430 at SFU’s downtown Harbour Centre campus
  • Cost: Free with registration:
  • What: Gandhi Commemorative Garlanding Ceremony
  • When: Oct. 2, 6:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Bust of Mahatma Gandhi, Peace Square (south side of level 3 AQ), Burnaby campus
  • Cost: Free and open to the public

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