MRU community members honoured at Top 7 Over 70 Awards

Recognizing incredible contributions later in life

Top 7 Over 70 – 2021 winners.

Top 7 Over 70 – 2021 winners (from left) Murray McCann, Margaret Southern, Miiksika’am (Elder Clarence Wolfleg), Sherali Saju, Louis B. Hobson, and Bonnie Kaplan were photographed in Gasoline Alley at Heritage Park in Calgary, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. Missing is Don Taylor. Gavin Young photo, courtesy Postmedia.

Mount Royal University is taking special pride in this year’s Top 7 Over 70 Awards, with four of the seven recognitions going to longtime members of the MRU community.

Award winners announced on Nov. 3 include MRU honorary degree recipients Murray McCann (Honorary Bachelor of Nursing, 2018), Marg Southern (Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2019) and Clarence Wolfleg Sr., known to MRU as Elder Miiksika'am (Honorary Doctor of Laws 2021, Honorary Bachelor of Arts — Sociology, 2016).

Don Taylor, MRU supporter and namesake of the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, is also on the esteemed list.

“The contributions of older adults in Calgary and area are truly amazing,” says Top 7 Over 70 chair Kim McConnell. “They are driving our economy and communities forward via their efforts in many fields.”

Don Taylor with his wife, Ruth Taylor..jpg

Don Taylor with his wife, Ruth Taylor.

The Top 7 Over 70 Awards, handed out every two years, is a dream-turned-reality for founder Jim Gray, a renowned Calgarian, oil-patch pioneer and philanthropist, who wanted to recognize the ways community members continue to make an impact after age 70.

“I am struck by the dynamic contributions I see Calgary seniors making in every facet of life, adding to the richness of our community,” Gray says. “That’s why I thought it is time to celebrate the unique achievements of seniors by recognizing the Top 7 Over 70.”

First awarded in 2017 by a volunteer committee, any senior who is over 70 — and lives in Calgary or its surrounding communities — is eligible to be nominated. Ideal nominees are those who have started something different or new, or implemented a new venture or idea, after age 70. Their achievements have a “current” flavour or different twist. Nominees’ accomplishments can be occurring in fields such as: health and recreation; arts and culture; science; business; volunteerism; environment; overcoming adversity; and making a difference.

This year’s Top 7 Over 70 winners, all who started exceptional new ventures after the age of 70, are:

  • Louis B. Hobson: A 77-year-old creative force who has launched a myriad of theatrical initiatives, including a new rock musical;
  • Bonnie Kaplan: A 74-year-old scientist who has written a bestselling book and researched new pathways for treating mental health;
  • Murray McCann: An 82-year-old businessman and philanthropist who has forever changed the way we honour war veterans in Calgary;
  • Elder Miiksika’am (Clarence Wolfleg Sr.): A 73-year-old residential school survivor and Spiritual Elder who is now sharing teachings with thousands;
  • Sherali Saju: An 83-year-old entrepreneur who privately supports mortgages and business loans for new Canadians when banks say no;
  • Margaret Southern: A 90-year-old powerhouse businesswoman who has changed the face of professional sport in our city;
  • Don Taylor: An 86-year-old self-made man who is now donating tens of millions of dollars to local educational, cultural and environmental initiatives.

“Today, it’s quite an honour,” Elder Miiksika’am told the Calgary Herald. “It’s not so much my age. It’s a bit about what I have been privileged to witness in my journey. I acknowledge all these people that also were nominated for this award.”

Statistics Canada says our country now has more people aged 65-plus than children under 15. And, by 2036, older people could number between 9.9 million and 10.9 million in Canada. The Top 7 Over 70 promotes the concept of communities better utilizing and engaging older individuals, who are practiced, prepared and proficient in a multitude of areas.

The 2021 Top 7 Over 70 awards will be presented at a gala on May 26, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency. Read more about the Top 7 over 70 Awards.

Nov. 4, 2021 — Peter Glenn

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