An activist for human rights and social justice&emdash;Michele Pujol

In memoriam: Michele Pujol

Dr. Michele Pujol (Women's Studies) died peacefully at her Salt Spring Island home on Aug. 2 in the care of her partner, Brook Holdack. She had been a member of the UVic Department of Women's Studies since 1990.

Pujol was born in Madaoua, Niger, April 20, 1951, the child of a French colonial administrator. She attended college in Paris studying mathematics, going on to study economics with a scholarship. She travelled to Washington State University where she completed her master's degree, and she received her PhD in economics from Simon Fraser University.

In 1992, Pujol's ground-breaking book Feminism and Anti-Feminism in Early Economic Thought, based on her dissertation, was published.

Although she went into teaching (first at the University of Manitoba and then at UVic) and was regarded as an exceptional teacher by colleagues and students alike, Pujol was an activist first for human rights and social justice.

While teaching at Manitoba (1981-1988) she was active in the Winnipeg Gay and Lesbian Society, the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, and the Winnipeg Native Family Economic Development group. She was coordinator of Women's Studies at Manitoba from 1984 to 1988. During her years in Winnipeg, Pujol was instrumental in organizing the first three Pride Day marches and two Canadian Women's Music festivals. At UVic, she was the first instructor to develop a lesbian studies course. Her students and friends organized the first annual Lesbian Walk in response to homophobia experienced by her and the Women's Studies Department.

She was a founding member of the International Association for Feminist Economics as well as an associate editor of the journal Feminist Economics, to which she frequently contributed. Pujol was completing research for a book about pay equity in Manitoba and an important bibliography of 19th-century writings on economics by women published in English. This work, taken up by close friends and colleagues, will be published in the future.

Pujol was diagnosed with colon cancer in the spring of 1997, had surgery in early April, during which liver metastasis was discovered. Her cancer was regarded as terminal by the standard medical establishment. Rather than choose a few extra months (possibly) by treating her cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, she chose to be a cancer fighter on her own terms. Cancer is a great mystery which she struggled to overcome with rare dignity and strength. Though her death is an un-namable loss, her victory of life will be a beacon to many for always.

A tribute to Pujol will be held Sept. 23 from 2-3 p.m. in Begbie 159. All are welcome.

A Michele Pujol Scholarship Fund has been established and those wishing to make donations may send cheques to the UVic Development Office. Further information is available by calling Brook Holdack on Salt Spring Island at 537-9874.

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