Alumnae Achievement Award
The Alumnae Achievement Award is presented annually to a living alumna or an old girl in recognition of her outstanding dedication and accomplishments in her life's work, either professional or volunteer. Award recipients will not only have made a difference in the lives of others, but will also be exemplary and inspiring role models for CHS and its students.
2017 Alumnae Achievement Award
Doreen McKenzie Sanders C.M., OG’38 – An Inspiration at Any Age
In early March, the CHS community was thrilled to welcome Doreen McKenzie Sanders C.M., OG’38 back to Crofton House — her first visit to campus, which moved from the West End to Kerrisdale a few years after she left the school in the late 1930s.
It was a day filled with stories and laughter, words of wisdom and fond memories. The biggest takeaway she’d like Croftonians to remember from her visit is, “To trust oneself, to aim high and be brave. Life throws a lot of curves at us, and it takes bravery.” Beyond that, she adds, “Have fun, and be forever optimistic. Believe the best will happen. Too often in our lives, we get discouraged. Discouragement puts you down.”
Lifelong friendships — many formed through the CHS network — have been invaluable to Doreen. “Friends are my greatest asset,” she says. “One doesn’t accomplish anything in life without help .... Great friends are always there for you, they know your weaknesses and in tragedy are very supportive.” With a twinkle in her eye, she adds, “I also like talented friends. You can do a lot of brain-picking.”
Doreen says the training and teaching she received at Crofton House served her exceptionally well in her career and life. Citing the value of good manners, learned at CHS, she unequivocally believes, then or now, that “Manners matter, no matter what environment you find yourself in.”
Asked which words she would use to describe herself, she chuckles, before replying: determined, strongly opinionated and candid.
It was that determination coupled with a penchant for “talking too much” and “asking too many questions” that were so instrumental to her profound success in journalism and beyond. Speaking about the opportunities available today versus those Doreen had to create in her day, she says, “You are so lucky, in the times in which you live. Now, you can be whatever you wish to be ... you can achieve whatever goals you want in life.”
Ultimately, despite more than half a century between school visits, Doreen says, “Buildings and uniforms might change, but the students haven’t changed. They’re still budding young women.”
An award-winning journalist, educator and publisher, Doreen McKenzie Sanders exemplifies the term trailblazer. A true champion for women, in her career Doreen cracked the proverbial glass ceiling at newsrooms in BC, Ontario and beyond at publications including The Vancouver Province and the Business Quarterly (now the Ivey Business Journal, the publication of the Ivey Business School at Western University). Her vision and leadership were also instrumental in helping generations of successful and entrepreneurial Canadian women join the top ranks of the corporate boardroom. Recognized for her achievements with distinctions including Business in Vancouver’s first “Influential Women in Business Lifetime Award” and the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case, Doreen is also a member of the Order of Canada. At 96, she recently published her memoirs in a volume entitled Things I Haven’t Told You.