Sylvia Fedoruk biography reveals life of Canora and Canadian icon

Award-winning author Merle Massie brings to the page the life and career of Sylvia Fedoruk (1927-2012) in her new book A Radiant Life, which encompassed some of the most ground-breaking scientific, athletic and public transformations of the 20th century.

A pioneer in leading-edge cancer research, primarily in the field of nuclear medicine, she was the first woman to join the Atomic Energy Board of Canada, according to a release. Fedoruk was an outstanding athlete, competing at an elite level in women’s softball and curling. Elected as the first woman chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan, she went on to be the first woman to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, coaching two premiers through potential legislative and constitutional crises.

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With support from the University, the provincial government and the media, she withstood a major outing controversy, revealing a particular provincial touchpoint around issues of homosexuality, artistic activism, and power dynamics in the midst of the AIDS crisis of the 1990s. Known for a warm but no-nonsense style, Sylvia Fedoruk built a legacy which drew Saskatchewan’s north into the provincial consciousness, advocated for equal education for all, pushed for support for women in science, technology, engineering, and math, and worked tirelessly as the University of Saskatchewan and the province’s most vocal cheerleader.

Born in Canora in 1927, Fedoruk attended the University of Saskatchewan, graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor of Arts, and went on to attain a master's degree in physics, according to information on the Internet. She had a distinguished career in medical physics, specializing in radiation therapy for cancer patients. Fedoruk served as chief medical physicist for the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic and director of physics services for the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation. She was also a professor of oncology and associate member in physics at the U of S.

Fedoruk participated in the development of the world's first Cobalt 60 unit and one of the first nuclear medicine scanning machines. The device and techniques she helped develop are still used to treat cancers around the world. She served as a consultant in nuclear medicine to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

A Radiant Life by Merle Masse was published by University of Regina Press and is available to order online at Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.

About the Author

Merle Massie is a Saskatchewan historian and author, raised in Saskatchewan’s forest fringe and trained at the University of Saskatchewan. She is co-author (with Stuart Houston) of 36 Steps on the Road to Medicare: How Saskatchewan Led the Way, and her second book, Forest Prairie Edge: Place History in Saskatchewan, won a Saskatchewan Book Award in 2015. She now lives on the prairies, farming with her husband and writing Saskatchewan stories.