When the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario recognizes trailblazing women tomorrow night, UWindsor’s Victoria Paraschak will be among them.
Dr. Paraschak, professor emerita in the Faculty of Human Kinetics, is being honoured at the biennial Women of Excellence gala in London. Paraschak is being recognized for her contributions to sport, fitness, and recreation.
“Vicky champions changes to policies and practices to transform culture in sport and education, creating more equity and inclusivity for women and marginalized communities,” the YMCA said in announcing her recognition.
“She never takes the easy way out.”
Paraschak joined the faculty in 1984 and became a leader in teaching a feminist perspective of history and sociology in sport. She advocates for her students and for young women in the community as a champion for Leadership Advancement for Women and Sport (LAWS) and by helping create an outdoor recreation program that drew on kinesiology students as mentors for high-school aged youth at risk. She also works to ensure the achievements of Indigenous athletes are recognized, be it in Wikipedia or in Sports Hall of Fame institutions.
Paraschak was nominated for the Women of Excellence award by colleague Margery Holman, who earned the same recognition from the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario in 2021. Dr. Holman, also a professor emerita in the Faculty of Human Kinetics, collaborated with Paraschak in LAWS and other initiatives.
“When I learned about the award two years ago, I knew Vicky was a perfect candidate,” Holman said. “She always goes above and beyond…. This is a good way to say, “You may not have been recognized every step of the way, but we acknowledge and appreciate everything you’ve done.’”
Paraschak’s advocacy has not slowed down in her retirement. She recently spearheaded a petition tabled in the House of Commons calling for an independent judicial inquiry into widespread instances of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse in Canadian sport.
“This shows that Vicky’s contributions are not just a passing moment,” Holman said. “She is still working to make society a better place.”
Paraschak said she is honoured to be receiving the recognition.
“I’m humbled to be nominated by my friend, colleague, and mentor, Dr. Holman, who exemplifies advocacy on behalf of women and girls in sport, and to be recognized for this award alongside seven other amazing women who all demonstrate leadership and advocacy as they strive, daily, to improve the world around them.”
Paraschak will receive her award at a gala Tuesday at RBC Place London. Proceeds from the event support the YMCA’s Community Starts Here campaign.