Project Description


By the time she turned 18 Doreen Orman’s family had mapped out her future – she would move from the farm near Cayley, Alberta, to Edmonton, where she would live with an aunt while she studied nursing.

Except for one small thing: that’s not what Doreen had in mind.

“I didn’t want to go to Edmonton and I didn’t want to be a nurse,” Doreen says. “My dream was to come to Calgary.”

It was 1942, a time when most young women would bow the wishes of their parents. But Doreen held her ground, moved to Calgary with four girlfriends and dove into her new community, becoming an active volunteer with a host of organizations in the city, including the Calgary YW, which she would eventually lead, serving as president from 1969 to 1972 as well as
chair of Canada’s YWCA Cooperation for Development Committee from 1977 to 1979.

Over the course of her decades of volunteer service with the YW Doreen served on key social justice committees, advocating for equal rights, engaging youth and Indigenous women, focusing on women in the third world.

A trip to Ghana in for the World YW Council meeting gave Doreen insight into the lives of women in countries less fortunate than Canada and would influence much of her future volunteer work with YW, support development and women’s issues in undeveloped parts of the world.

“That was an eye opener, to meet women from all over the world and to see the terrible disparity between women in the third world and women in Calgary,” she said. “I was determined to share these stories, so that became part of the ‘Voice of Women’ for the YW.”

In the same way that she’d been able to exert her own choices as a young woman, she wanted other women in the third world to have the opportunity to take charge of their lives.