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Launching the Rowena Barrett Education Award!

Rowena Barrett, age 94

At our annual awards celebration coming up this Thursday, May 30, 5:30 p.m. at the Perth Legion, CFUW Perth & District will be launching the newly-established Rowena M. Barrett Award.  This $1,000 bursary will be given annually to an applicant who meets our education award criteria and who will be pursuing a career in education.

It is generously sponsored by CFUW member Bonnie Allen to honour her mother, a woman who has been a role model of support and encouragement in her daughters’ efforts to acquire the kind of education that was never within reach for her.

Rowena May Barrett was born in 1929 on Woody Island, a tiny island outport in Newfoundland when it was still a Dominion. She was the third of four children born into a fishing family. The Great Depression hit Newfoundland particularly hard, and the life of a fisherman’s family was not an easy one. They worked from dawn to dusk to eke out a subsistence. 

Schooling in those times bore little resemblance to what we know today.  Woody Island was fortunate in that it was able to employ a teacher from time to time. In spite of the challenges, Rowena loved going to school and attended classes as regularly as she could. That is, until the day when she picked up her school bag and her father swore, as he often did, and refused to allow her to go because there were more chores to be done. He was not a proponent of education for girls and at 14, with a grade 4 education, she had attended her last day of school. 

She vowed that if she ever had children, she would ensure that they had better opportunities than she had had to get an education and she ensured that her daughters had her constant support and encouragement as they pursued their educational and career goals. 

Today, she is 94 and is delighted to know that our CFUW club is advocating for those who may not be as fortunate as we are, but have the determination and drive to break through barriers in order to achieve a post-secondary education.

Bonnie says that it is her great privilege to honour the mother who gave her so much with this award. 



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