In Memoriam: Sylvia Ostry

Sylvia Ostry Harry Palmer Photographs by Harry Palmer Photographer / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

The Inter-American Dialogue mourns the loss of former Dialogue member Sylvia Ostry, who passed away on May 7, 2020 at the age of 92. Ostry was a trailblazer in her field and led a path-breaking career. 

A dedicated public servant, Ostry served in the Canadian federal government as deputy minister, Consumer, and Corporate Affairs between 1975 and 1978 and as deputy minister, International Trade, and Coordinator, International Economic Relations, from 1984 to 1985. Ostry became the first woman appointed as a deputy minister in Canadian history. She was also the first woman appointed to the prominent position of chief economist of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in Paris. She became a leading global champion of the view that multilateralism remained the essential foundation for world peace. In 1987, she was rewarded with the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Government of Canada. In 1990, she became a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest award in the national system of honors. She previously worked as an expert adviser to the Commission on Transnational Corporations of the United Nations. Ostry also worked as the chief statistician at Statistics Canada and later taught and did research at McGill, Université de Montréal, and Oxford. 

She is survived by her two sons, Adam and Johnathan Ostry. 

Photo Credit: Harry Palmer Photographs by Harry Palmer Photographer