Founder of PACE Canada dies at 94

Mavis Burke

Mavis Elaine Burke who founded Women for PACE, renamed PACE Canada, an organization initially set up to assist early childhood education in Jamaica, died on July 7 last at a nursing home in Markham, Ontario. She was 94.

Burke who was born in Cuba to Jamaican parents, grew up in Jamaica and came to Canada in 1971.

In Jamaica, she studied at the University College of the West Indies, then at a college of the University of London, and graduated with a degree in history.

Burke earned a post graduate Diploma in Education from the University of the West Indies, an MA in Education from University of London and a PhD in Education from University of Ottawa and was made a Fellow of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

An Education Officer in the Ontario Ministry of Education, in 1981 she was made Chairperson and then President of the Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism and Citizenship. In 1985 she was appointed Chairperson of the Ontario Social Assistance Review Board.

PACE Canada which has been assisting hundreds of basic schools in Jamaica through its adopt-a-school campaign, expanded its focus to include children in Canada.

She received the Order of Ontario (O Ont.) and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, and for services to Jamaica, she was made an Officer of the Order of Distinction (OD)’ She received the Prime Minister’s Medal for services to Education.

Mavis Burke

Sandra Whiting, a former president of PACE Canada, said she always had “the greatest respect and admiration” for Mavis Burke.

“She was definitely a formidable woman, one who always got things done and expected things to be done well,” said Whiting.

 “We did not always agree but she always respected my point of view and I respected hers and I was honoured to have known her,” she added.

She leaves several nieces, nephews and other relatives and close friends.

A funeral service for Mavis Elaine Burke will be held tomorrow at the Highland Funeral Home in Markham. A livestream will be available for this event.