Celebrating Canada’s female Paralympic Hall of Fame members

Canadian Paralympic Committee

March 05, 2020

Looking back on Canadian trailblazers for International Women’s Day

Chantal Petitclerc

OTTAWA – Each one of the 15 women inducted so far into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame has made an indelible impact in sport at both the national and international level, helping to grow, promote, and advance Paralympic sport throughout Canada with their work on and off the field of play. 

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, we look back on the achievements of these remarkable trailblazers:  


Joanne Berdan, inducted 2003
Joanne Berdan (who competed under her maiden name of Joanne Bouw) was the only athlete inductee in 2003 and the first woman to be named to the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame. Berdan won gold medals in shotput, discus and javelin at both the 1988 and 1992 Paralympic Games. She was the first athlete with a disability to be a finalist for female athlete of the year at the Canadian Sport Awards.

Ljiljana Ljubisic, inducted 2011
Ljiljana Ljubisic became the second female athlete to be inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2011. A five-time Paralympian, she won eight Games medals including silver in goalball in 1984 and gold in discus in 1992. 


Jennifer Krempien, inducted 2013
Jennifer Krempien was the first member of the powerhouse women’s wheelchair basketball teams of the 1990s and 2000s to be inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame. She competed at all five Paralympic Games between 1992 and 2008 helping Canada to three gold and a bronze in addition to four world titles.

Chantal Petitclerc, inducted 2015
Canada’s most successful and best-known female Paralympic athlete, wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc was inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2008, she won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s Athlete of the Year after earning five gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics. In all she collected 21 medals in her five Paralympic Games participations. Today she is a member of the Senate of Canada. 

Lauren Woolstencroft, inducted 2015
Lauren Woolstencroft was the queen of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The Para alpine skier became the first Canadian to win five gold medals at a single Winter Games as she swept the women’s standing category on the slopes of Whistler. In her career, she was a three-time Paralympian earning 10 medals including eight gold.


Marni Abbott-Peter, inducted 2015
In 2015, Marni Abbott-Peter became the second player from the Canadians women’s wheelchair basketball team that dominated the sport in the 1990s and 2000s to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She was considered the cornerstone of the squad which won three Paralympic Games gold medals, three world title and produced a 43 consecutive game winning streak.

Karolina Wisniewska, inducted 2017
Karolina Wisniewska launched a tradition of success in women’s Para alpine skiing when she won two medals at the Nagano Paralympic Games in 1998 and four more in Salt Lake City four years later, which was a Canadian record at the time for a single Games. She came out of retirement for the 2010 Vancouver Games and added two bronze to cap a brilliant and influential career. She will be an athlete ambassador for the Canadian team this summer at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. 

Colette Bourgonje, inducted 2019
Colette Bourgonje, who won medals at both the summer and winter Paralympic Games, was inducted into both the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. She won four Paralympic Games bronze medals in wheelchair racing between 1992 and 2000 and six more in Para nordic sit skiing at the Winter Games between 1992 and 2014. In all, she competed in 10 Paralympic Games.


Viviane Forest, inducted 2019
Like her co-inductee in 2019, visually impaired athlete Viviane Forest was also a summer and winter Paralympian. Her greatest achievement was a five-medal performance in Para alpine skiing at the 2010 Vancouver Games including a gold in the downhill. That made her the first Canadian to win gold at both a winter and summer Paralympics in an individual sport. She helped Canada to victory in goalball at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens.


Senator Joyce Fairbairn, inducted 2011
The first woman inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame as a builder was Senator Joyce Fairbairn in 2011. The Senator is credited with assuring Canada’s presence at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia when she funded a group called ‘’Friends of the Paralympics’’ to raise money for the 2000 team.

Janet Dunn, inducted 2013
Janet Dunn is an educator, creator, coach and mentor in sport.  She is a founding member of both the Alberta Cerebral Palsy Sports and Canadian Cerebral Palsy Sports Associations, pioneered the development of a swim program, and has worked at all levels of the sport system in the development of sport for athletes with a disability and swimming.

Audrey Strom, inducted 2015
Sports administrator Audrey Strom was instrumental in making sure the tapping innovation for blind Para swimmers was part of the international rules. This increased safety and helped visually impaired athletes become more confident about going into swimming. She also developed coaching manuals that she handed out “quite freely” at every meet she attended.

Carla Qualtrough, inducted 2017
After a successful career as a Para swimmer (she won three Paralympic and four world championship medals) Carla Qualtrough became an influential sports volunteer. Passionate about the power of sport and physical activity to change lives, she volunteered with the International Paralympic Committee and for the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games. She has been president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and chair of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada. After being elected as a member of Parliament in 2015, she served as Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities and today is Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion. 


Maureen Orchard, inducted 2017
Since 1991, Maureen Orchard has been involved in the highest levels of wheelchair basketball. In 1994 she became a member of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation Competitions Commission and in 1998 president of Competitions. She has championed development within the international zones and enhanced opportunities for junior athletes and women around the world. She was the IWBF president for 12 years and has dedicated more than 50 years to her sport.

Kathy Newman, inducted 2019
The latest builder to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Kathy Newman helped grow programming and hosting opportunities throughout Canada for wheelchair sports. She worked for 31 years with the BC Wheelchair Sports Association, including the last 26 as executive director. She retired seven years ago from the position but is still carrying the torch high and proud for wheelchair sports as a consultant and a board member of both Wheelchair Basketball Canada and Wheelchair Rugby Canada. 

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