Following are the past recipients of the BOLD Woman of the Year Award which began in 2010. We look forward  to once again honouring another bold, old(er) woman in 2019 who has made a difference  in her community and in the world.  


The Annual BOLD Woman Award of the Year was founded by BOLD's co-producer/organizer Claire Robson in 2010, 5 years after BOLDFest started. The award was created to recognize the achievements of old(er) lesbians and dykes who have moved us, changed us, who have made a difference in North America and beyond and in the many communities in which we live and work. We so appreciate the dedication and commitment of these women. They, and many others, are the reason lesbian community and lesbian herstory lives on.


Haida artist and master carver Bernie Williams (Gul-Giit-Jaad; Golden Spruce Woman) is an enduring spirit whose life has fostered extraordinary strength and bravery. She is of St’langng Jaanas/Laanas clan in Haida Gwaii.

Bernie is a long time Downtown Eastside resident, artist and activist. She is a passionate advocate and rallies against the discrimination, abuse and sexual assault, human trafficking, exploitation against Aboriginal and LGBTQ2S women and girls.

Bernie is one of the cofounders of Walk4Justice, an organization that creates awareness about the escalating violence towards aboriginal women and girls and a voice to their families. The organization brought National attention to the Highway of Tears and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

She also helped to accomplish this by walking across Canada 7 times, starting from East Vancouver to Ottawa; and walked the Highway of Tears 3 times. The momentum eventually assisted in the Federal Government’s decision to create a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. (MMIWG)

In April of 2018, she testified at the MMIWG in Richmond describing her own journey and with courage spoke her truths; the record of which will be used to help make recommendations to Canadian Governments across the nation for change.

Bernie is the first and only female apprentice of the master Haida carver, Bill Reid. Her artwork can be seen in the landmarks of Vancouver including the Survivor Totem Pole which now stands in Pigeon Park. The project was funded through Kickstarter in part by the Downtown Eastside Sacred Circle Society, an organization Bernie founded. The Totem Pole was created to remember and honour survivors of injustice and discrimination. It now stands as an important gathering place in the DTES, symbolizing the community’s struggle for survival and inclusion.

Her artwork is renown around the world in many international and national museums and collections. One of her great works, a traditional Haida button blanket called “Dance of the Eagle”, was presented to the first Indigenous Woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala in 1992

Bernie was also commissioned by Dr. Dawn Harvard, previous vice-president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), to create a commemorative pendant for the current Māori King in New Zealand, Tūheitia Paki in 2016 as he presented to the United Nations in New York City.

She volunteers her time on the front lines and also searching for family members missing throughout the East side and Lower Mainland. Bernie persists in the fight for the human rights of her community and those still suffering under prejudice, violence and abandonment. Her voice has been loud and often carries a message that is too awful to hear, especially by those in power that can affect meaningful change but are too ashamed to listen.

In October 2019, Bernie Williams will be potlatching her Hereditary Chieftainship Name which is Daasghay (Chief of Two Villages) in her traditional territory Haida Gwaii.


Chris Morrissey, Vancouver BC. 

Chris wears many hats. She was the first coordinator of  Generations, a project of Qmunity (Vancouver's LGBTQ community centre) dedicated to the needs and issues of older LGBTQ people. Almost ten years ago, the Vancouver Park Board and QMUNITY Generations founded Quirk-e - the Queer Imaging & Riting Kollective for Elders, at the 411 Community Centre on Dunsmuir. The group is still going strong, now with the vital support of Britannia Community Services Centre and funding from the City of Vancouver. Claire has been mentor and inspiration as well as artist-in-residence since the birth of Quirk–e.  Under her direction, the group has made many appearances in the city, recently in collaboration with queer youth.

Chris co-founded the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Task Force (LEGIT, which successfully lobbied the federal government to reform immigration sponsorship rules to allow Canadian gays and lesbians to sponsor their same-sex partners. Until then, same-sex partners were not recognized as family. Through these efforts she was able to get her partner of many years, Bridget, an Irish citizen to stay in Canada. They met when they were both nuns, 

As well, Cris was instrumental in starting a refugee sponsorship campaign called Vancouver Circle of Hope, which works with the Rainbow Refugee Committee to encourage local community groups and individuals to join together and group-sponsor queer refugee claimants.    Chris is still going strong, working tirelessly on the Rainbow Refugee Committee and serves on both the Seniors Advisory Committee to (Vancouver) City Council and an LGBTQ Elder sub-committee of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee to  City Council.

In 2012 Chris won the Queen's Jubilee Award for "spending a lifetime helping others".

2011   Ellen Woodsworth,Vancouver BC 

Former Vancouver City Councillor with COPE, Ellen has been an out lesbian feminist activist since 1970, working for social justice and economic equality for all. She has served on many boards including BC Chair of the Action Canada Network, Chair of Bridge Housing Society for Women, co-founder of Breaking the Silence Against Violence; she helped set up the first city LGBTQ Advisory Committee to City Council, Women Transforming Cities and organized many forums and rallies against homophobia and transphobia. To learn more about Ellen's live, accomplishments and continuing work, visit her website at  Of worthy mention, Ellen played soccer in the first Gay Games in San Francisco!

 2012   Arden Eversmeyer, Houston TX

Arden is the Director and driving force behind the Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project ( an ambitious project like no other, which by 2016 has captured the lives and stories of old lesbians throughout North America, ages 62  through 85; these stories are now being archived in Smith College, Northampton MA. Arden conducted almost every one of the 1st 100 interviews.  Now with help of other interviewers, there are over 500 interviews/stories representing 38 states, plus a few women living in Canada, Japan, Australia and Costa Rica.   

When she isn't working on OLOHP, Arden is very active in the lesbian community in her hometown of Houston, working with LOAF, Lesbians over Age Fifty. Life is not idle for Arden which includes spending quality time with her wife Charlotte. they married in California before the passage of Proposition 8, after deciding they had tested the relationship after a 20 year engagement!

2013   Meg Torwl, Aotearoa/New Zealand/Canada

Meg, a native of Aotearoa/New Zealand, worked in video, new media, audio, photography, writing, performance and arts advocacy. Her work was often with communities pushed to the fringes by mainstream society – First Nations, refugees, women, lesbian and gay, people with disability, elders, marine environments. She produced 5 new media projects – meditative colour and water photography based installations: Singing Bowls (2004), AQWAI (2006), TIARIKA (2008), Going Coastal (2010), and PORTAL/PORTAGE (2011), and directed three documentaries distributed by Video Out: Act Your Age!? (2000)*, where have all the lesbians gone? (2001), and Towards the day…we are all free (2007). Meg also produced 50 half-hour radio programs with Radio New Zealand National’s One in Five disability community program (2007/8), with a focus on youth, art, multiculturalism and policy. She worked for arts organizations in community outreach and project coordination for the National Film Board of Canada (2004), CBC TV (2006), KickstArt Disability Arts and Culture (2009/10), and BC Regional Integrated Arts Network (2010). Meg was a visual artist, a graduate of The Writers Studio (2011) at SFU, and published numerous books of poetry. 

Meg was a supporter of BOLDFest, a place her partner Adrienne loved to be at each year.  Meg's award was given posthumously to Adrienne in 2013 shortly after Meg died.

*Act Your Age": 10 women aged 16 to 80 talk candidly about age, ageing, ageism, beauty, disability, friends, lovers.

2014   Margy Lesher of the Lesbian Connection, E. Lansing MI

The Lesbian Connection is the longest-running worldwide magazine for lesbians. In 2014 LC celebrated 40 years of connecting, informing, being the lifeline for thousands of lesbians all over the world. It truly has made the difference to many lives, in so many ways.  

Margy Lesher was a co-founder of this historic lesbian institution and she is still going strong, along with co-workers, organizing, putting together and publishing this bi-monthly magazine.  To learn more about an important link to LC and Lesbian Herstory, and to subscribe, click here.

To view the BOLD Woman of the Year award to Margy, and some funny moment with lesbian comic Diane Kuch, go to 

 2014   Pat Hogan, Vancouver BC  A 2nd - and surprise - BOLD Woman Award! in 2014  went to Pat Hogan, founder and co-producer of BOLDFest. 

Pat, born and raised in Connecticut, landed in Canada in 1969 and soon thereafter housed US draft resistors. Pat authored, organized and coordinated several feminist organizations and projects in the mid-70s in the Okanagan (BC). These included DAWN, Direct Action for Women in Need, co-founder of the Vernon Transition House, organized the 1st Conference on Family Violence in rural BC following Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon's landmark convention in Vancouver, founded the Okanagan Women's Coalition. Trained with Sharon Kahn at UBC in Assertiveness Training , co-facilitated assertiveness classes in Langara's early women's studies program. 

Other adventures include: Co-op Radio WomanVision programmer. In this capacity, Pat and Rosemary Allenbach (later a CBC producer) produced a 3-hour documentary on The Persons Case, when women were legally declared persons in Canada. Pat co-founded and still runs Sounds & Furies, a production company producing concerts and events featuring primarily women/lesbian performers, writers, women's spirituality and political workshops and more.  She opened Josephine's Cafe, a well known lesbian+ Vancouver eastside cafe which was home to many people and events. Pat founded and started up BC Reclaiming Witchcamp in 1987, which gave birth to a movement of Reclaiming Witchcamps and communities worldwide and then, in the early 90's she founded Sappho Lesbian Witchcamp.  Other work/interests: Vancouver Women's Health Collective worker, organizer/student of same-sex ballroom dance classes. Pat competed in Gay Games Dancesport in Amsterdam and Australia, and in Outsports in Montreal.  

Pat still continues to be active in many communities and circles - LGBTQ, Human Rights, Housing co-ops, senior/elder issues and so on. She's committed to keeping strong connections with friends and family, and, travels whenever possible.  

Pat is the proud mother of 2 amazing and wonderful people, Jaime, who has lived and raised a family Australia for many years, and T'ai, who lives in Nelson BC with his family. Both her kids have kids and she's the proud grandmother to Tuula, Soleil, Cole, Louis and Nathan, with an age range of nearly 20 years from youngest to oldest and miles and years between but they do their best to keep connected.

 2015   Libby Davies, Former Vancouver East MP

Libby Davies is a politician, a tireless worker for the marginalized, the poor, women, seniors, the LGBTQ community and much more. Libby was elected to Vancouver City Council in1982 and re-elected for 3 more terms, 12 years total. She ran for Mayor of Vancouver in 1993, was defeated, participated in several grass-roots political organizations, specifically in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside area. She dropped out of university to help her husband Bruce Eriksen found the Downtwon Eastside Residents Assoc., an influential low-income housing advocacy group. Libby was first elected to Parliament (Federal) in 1997 and re-elected for 5 more terms, a total of 20 years, retiring in 2015. She is the first female Canadian Member of Parliament to reveal she was in a same-sex relationship. She declined to stand as  candidate for leadership of the NDP in 2012, citing her inability to speak French as a factor. Libby continues her involvement in the many communities and issues that are near and dear to her.


BOLDFest was honoured, although saddened, to award the 2017 BOLD Woman of the Year Award  posthumously to  Karlene Faith leading Canadian writer, feminist, scholar, human rights activist, professor, criminologist and strong activist for women in prison.

This Award was sponsored by Canadian Senator Kim Pate, Colleague &  friend of Karlene's, past Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and strong activist for women in prison. 

2016 Janine Fuller, Vancouver BC

Janine Fuller is best known for her role as an anti-censorship activist with Canada Customs, which culminated in the Supreme Court of Canada case Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Minister of Justice).

 Janine started working at Little Sisters in 1990, a year after coming to Vancouver from Toronto where she had worked with the Toronto Women's Bookstore when the store was firebombed in 1983.

  In 1990 Little Sisters had just begun their now-famous challenge to Canada Custom's censorship of gay and lesbian books and magazines.  Janine took on the daunting task of raising both public consciousness about the case and the money to fund it. She travelled coast to coast in Canada and the U.S., talking about her experience as a bookseller and a reader grappling with Custom's arbitrary and homophobic censorship. She rallied Canadian and international writers, readers and booksellers to the cause, pushing and cajoling when necessary, but most often showing the way by her enthusiasm and commitment.

To an extent larger than most people recognize, the successful outcome of this litigation was due to Janine Fuller.

Janine began advocating for gender equality at a young age. She remembers being a Grade 6 student in Toronto and the school principal telling her no, she couldn't form a girls soccer team. Soccer was for boys. Teams were for boys.  She won that first battle, and knows just how hard won every right and freedom is.

Although the activism she sees today might not be as loud, it's no less proud.

Janine co-authored a book about the Canadian Customs case entitled “Restricted Entry”; as well she wrote an introduction for Forbidden Passages: Writings Banned in Canada, an anthology of excerpts from some of the impounded works which was edited by Patrick Califia.

 Both Restricted Entry and Forbidden Passages won Lammies at the 8th Lambda Literary Awards in 1996, Forbidden Passages in the "Editor's Choice" category and Restricted Entry in the "Publisher's Service" category.

 Janine has also written a number of plays, and has worked as a performance artist.

 Following a diagnosis with Huntington's disease in the late 2000s, Fuller has also become an activist and speaker on issues relating to the condition.

In honour of her role as a significant contributor to LGBTQ culture and history in Canada, Janine has been inducted into both the Q Hall of Fame Canada[ and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives' National Portrait Collection. She was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by Simon Fraser University in 2004,[ the inaugural Reg Robson Award from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association in 1997, the Freedom to Read Award from the Writers' Union of Canada in 2002, as well as awards from numerous women's and LGBTQ organizations.

"There are always going to be a number of people that are active in any community and that care. There are a ton of incredible queer youth doing amazing amounts to advance women's and queer issues. It's an evolving DNA."  Janine Fuller

2017 Claire Robson, Vancouver BC

A 2nd and surprise BOLDFest award went to UK-born Claire Robson, Academic, Instructor, Writer, Community Arts activist, co-organizer/producer of BOLDFest, for her tireless work in many communities, especially assisting LGBTQ elders to get their stories published, as well as establishing a collaborative long term writing and performing relationship between Quirke members and Youth for a Change, a marginalized youth social activist group.  She formed and co-facilitated Quirk-e, The Queer Imaging & Riting Collective for Elders, for 11 years, during which time she also co-produced an ongoing monthly Open Mic - Launch! - for LGBTQ folks and allies.  Her federally funded postdoctoral research at Simon Fraser University investigated the potential of arts-engaged community practices. A widely published writer of fiction, memoir, and poetry, Claire’s most recent book, Writing for Change, shows how collective memoir writing can effect social change. Her awards include Xtra West Writer of the Year, the Joseph Katz Memorial Scholarship (for her contributions to social justice), and the Lynch History Prize(for her contributions to better understanding of gender and sexual minorities).


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