What the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Award has meant to me, and to Roots of Empathy



Tonight I’ve been asked to speak at the Ernest C Manning Innovation Awards dinner in Toronto – to celebrate this year’s award recipients and to reflect on what the award has meant to me.

The award has had a profound effect, on me, and on the Roots of Empathy organization.

Since receiving the award in 2011, Roots of Empathy has experienced unparalleled growth within Canada and has grown across England, Wales, Republic of Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Costa Rica and in five additional US states.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation was the first to include a social innovation like Roots of Empathy as part of the traditional recipients of innovation awards which have been clustered around science and technology. This has lifted the entire field of social innovation and we have been riding that wave ever since.

It’s amazing to see that social innovation and the solutions it delivers are now recognized as a path to solving some of the world’s most intractable problems.  Our solutions need to tap into the core of our humanity if we’re to create a better life for our children and their families.

The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation has contributed to the recognition of social innovation as a solution. In fact, it was the Foundation that nominated me for the 2018 Governor General Innovation Awards which “recognize and celebrate outstanding Canadian individuals, teams and organizations whose exceptional and transformative work help shape our future and positively impact our quality of life.”

I was so honoured to have received the Governor General Award.  Through this, Roots of Empathy has been identified as an outstanding social innovation that is helping to build an inclusive, compassionate society.

Since the beginning of Roots of Empathy over 20 years, ago, our mission has been to build caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults. If we want to make an impact we need to build a civil society.  And that starts with empathy.


– Mary Gordon