Canada 150 Profiles: Beth Bilson

As part of our celebration of Canada’s 150th, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector. 

Name: Beth Bilson

Current role in the sector: University Secretary, University of Saskatchewan

Years working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector:  I have been involved in the non-profit sector as a volunteer since the 1960s, and have spent my career working at a university.

Beth Bilson profile picture
David Stobbe / Stobbe Photography

What was your first job in the sector or your defining moment?

My first job was as a teacher in a rural high school in Jamaica. We had students who walked for several miles each day to catch the bus to come to school–which says a lot about the persistence of human aspirations.

Describe your desk/workspace.

I recently moved into my current job, so my desk is relatively neat. The focus for a few hours is a pile of articles about public libraries as public spaces, which I am reading for a project on expanding public access to legal information with librarians as intermediaries.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector?

I have just finished reading Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s The Right to be Cold, an account of her involvement on behalf of Inuit organizations in international discussions of climate change and pollution. One of her themes is the implications of environmental change and degradation in the Arctic for people everywhere. A good reminder, if we need one, of how interconnected we all are.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?

I think as a sector we need to be better partners – to do a better job of engaging our constituencies and communities as we consider what kind of society we want to have.

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com

Beth Bilson is a professor and former Dean of Law at the University of Saskatchewan. She has served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations, including Wanusekwin Heritage Park and the United Way of Saskatoon and Area.

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