His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced that the Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division) will be presented to Mrs. Fran Herman, one of the Pioneers of Music Therapy in Canada, and the first Chair of the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund.
After decades of being a Music Therapist (MTA) working with children with special needs, Fran used her unique skills as a story teller, author, an advocate for persons coping through challenging circumstances, and her passion for the profession of music therapy to do what some claimed was impossible – raise 4.25 million dollars with the support of the Canadian music industry. This significant feat included the creation of the Music Therapy Centre in the heart of Toronto on Bloor Street – again another perceived, impossible task.
The Meritorious Service Decorations are part of the Canadian Honours System and include a military and a civil division. The civil division recognizes individuals who have performed an exceptional deed or activity over a limited period of time, which brought honour to their community or to Canada. Additional information on this honour is available online here.
To engage the necessary stakeholders to develop such a project Fran seemed to use the most simple of all media – talking to people. Fran mobilized a team seemingly simply by telling them about the histories of children she worked with and how music therapy had transformed their lives. The work and visibility of the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund and the Music Therapy Centre (both continue to this day) reach individuals of all ages across the country and inspire many internationally. To date, her efforts have contributed to fund over 380 projects from coast to coast to coast, enabling research, program development and direct music therapy services to reach thousands of men, women, children and seniors with diverse needs (physical disabilities, palliative care, mental health, just to name a few) in healthcare and special education settings.