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Issue: 23 August 2009
Title: Peace activist Muriel Duckworth dies at 100
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Muriel Duckworth, a Nova Scotian peace activist best known as one of the founding members of the national peace group Voice of Women, died early Saturday at the age of 100.
Duckworth fell and broke her hip while at her Quebec cottage. She passed away at a hospital in Magog, Que.
Duckworth co-founded a variety of social action groups and played crucial roles in several humanitarian organizations, including Oxfam Canada, where she served on the board of directors in the 1970s.
She holds numerous honorary degrees from universities across Canada, including Mount Saint Vincent University and Dalhousie University. In 1983, Duckworth was made a companion of the Order of Canada and won the Pearson Peace Medal less than a decade later.
In her final days, Duckworth connected with many friends, including Marian Douglas Kerans, who wrote a biography about the activist that was published in 1996. Kerans said Duckworth was busy living "right up 'till the very end." The two last spoke over the phone on Aug. 17.
'She was fearless'
"Her way of speaking so simply, so plainly and right to the point was really quite phenomenal," Kernas said. "She was fearless."
Of Duckworth's tireless involvement in different organizations, Kerans said the centenarian saw needs everywhere and moved to fill them. "She always knew who the disadvantaged were," Kerans said. "Whose corner you needed to be in. Who you should advocate for."
Duckworth was one of five children born in Austin, Que., to Anna Westover and Ezra Ball. In 1947, she and her late husband, Jack, moved to Halifax. They were pacifists and their vocal opposition to the Second World War drew much ridicule at the time.
During the Vietnam War, Muriel and other Voice of Women members were instrumental in arranging a tour to Canada for Vietnamese women directly affected by the war.
Became a Quaker
She quit the United Church of Canada when it refused to condemn the conflict, and joined the Quakers, a religious faith deeply committed to non-violence.
Kerans said she believes Duckworth was saddened by Canada's role in the Afghanistan war.
"Her regret was that wars are not lessening, and wars have not disappeared. The greatest hope of her life was to see movement towards the creation of peace on earth," Kerans said. Duckworth is survived by her three children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.