Women & Gender Studies Institute

Brianna O’Connor Hersey – March 31, 2018

At the age of 36, died peacefully, surrounded by her family, at home in Toronto from end stage bowel disease. Brianna was an activist, a leader, a rebel, a voice for gender equity. She was born and schooled in Toronto (Oriole Park and St Clement’s), attended McGill University (BA), and University of Toronto (MA).  At the time of her death, Brianna was a PhD candidate at the Women & Gender Studies Institute, U of T Faculty of Arts.    Brianna was a unique individual with much passion for living and learning. She was a scholar who challenged her family, friends and school communities to rethink what a good life is. Her life was mired with chronic and acute illness. Despite this, she had a long life planned. A life which included writing a book, influencing young minds as a teacher, getting a service dog to support her needs, spending time with her family and friends.   Brianna leaves her mother, Karen; her siblings, Kristin and Olive; and her chosen step-sister, Sara. In death, she will reunite with her father, Donald Franklin O’Connor Hersey, and other beloved friends and family. Brianna had a short but brilliant life filled with light. She will be remembered and missed by many.  A celebration of life is planned for late April. In her memory, the Brianna O’Connor Hersey Scholarship has been established and will be awarded annually to a WGSI PhD student who (like Brianna) demonstrates (amongst other criteria) resilience, drive and strong communication skills.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the scholarship fund.
Globe and Mail Obituary