Chancellor's Community Recognition Award
Fall 2009 Convocation
Born in Vancouver, Helen Hughes moved to Saskatoon in 1950 when her father accepted a position as an Anglican minister there. In 1954, she earned a BSc in Home Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and, that same year, married Ted.
Mrs. Hughes became very active in volunteer work in Saskatoon and, in1976, joined city council where she remained for the next four years. As an alderman, she focused on finance, planning and social services issues with an emphasis on the interests of people from First Nations communities. Her work at helping build bridges between urban native and non-native residents resulted in her receiving the Order of Canada in 1982.
After 30 years in Saskatoon supporting numerous community and philanthropic organizations such as the Consumers Association, the Allergy Foundation, the YWCA, the Big Sisters, and the Regional Psychiatric Centre, Mrs. Hughes returned to British Columbia in 1980. She worked in the Ombudsman’s Office for five years, and then joined the B.C. Council of Human Rights.
In 1990, Mrs. Hughes was elected to Victoria’s city council and served there for 18 years where, once again, she quickly became known for her work in community service and youth programs, including the creation of the “Souper Bowls of Hope” fundraiser for the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society.
As a member of the Victoria Public Library Board, Mrs. Hughes founded the Lifelong Learning Festival held on International Literacy Day. As councilor responsible for liaison with downtown Victoria, she worked with the Medical Health Officer to organize the Capital Region Action Team on Sexually Exploited Youth. She has worked with the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society to raise funds for its programs, including a summer drop-in centre and a Youth Hospitality Training Centre, and she initiated a massive spring cleaning of the whole downtown area called the 60 Minute Scrub Up.
Although officially retired, Mrs. Hughes continues to volunteer. With her husband, Ted, she has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Leadership Victoria; a Generosity of Spirit Award sponsored by the Victoria Foundation, and honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of Victoria and University Canada West.
She and Ted have been married more than 50 years and have four children as well as eight grandchildren.