Sad Passing of Vanaja Dhruvarajan

December 14, 2017

The Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies is saddened to hear about the death of Dr. Vanaja Dhruvarajan. Dr. Dhruvarajan was the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair in 1994-1995 and is fondly remembered by her former colleagues. There will be a celebration of her life in Ottawa in May 2018.


Obituary from the Globe and Mail

23 December, 2017


In the early morning of December 14, 2017, Vanaja Dhruvarajan died peacefully with her older son by her side. This beautiful mother, grandmother and teacher lived a rich, happy and successful life, and left a wonderful legacy in family and academics. She was born in a village in South India, the fourth of nine children. With the loving support of her mother, she was able to pursue her ambitions to become a trailblazer in her field who broke gender barriers. After marriage, she moved first to the U.S. and then to Winnipeg, obtaining her Masters and Ph.D. in Sociology, both from the University of Chicago. Appointed professor at the University of Winnipeg, Vanaja was an acclaimed scholar in the field of gender and race. She was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the YWCA and in 'Who's Who in Canada'. Vanaja later served as the Ruth Wynn Woodward Professor in Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University and in the School of Graduate Studies at University of Toronto, and finally as adjunct professor at Carlton University. Over her career, Vanaja authored numerous books and papers, and was a sought after speaker. Those who knew her benefited from her wisdom, guidance and honesty; she was an inspiration and role model to family, friends and students alike. Vanaja's love and dedication for her family was profound. Her notions of success were not wealth and fame but equality, hard work, dedication, and perseverance, and to remember and serve those who are not as fortunate. She founded a charity to help young girls in India obtain an education, such that they would not face the same barriers as she did. We are all saddened by her loss and will strive to follow her path and example. We will remember her smile, laughter, strength, and courageous spirit; she will always remain a part of us. We wish to express our deep gratitude for the excellent and compassionate care provided by the nurses, physicians and other professionals at the McGill University Health Centre. With love from her sons, Raghu and Prabhu; grandchildren, Mika, Maya, Akash and Naveen; daughter-in-law, Arpita; Raj; and her brothers, sisters and extended family all over the world. Her family is planning to honor her request for a 'celebration of life' in Ottawa on May 19, 2018 (her birthday).