In a ceremony at Victoria Hall, Shaddick was awarded the Bronze Wolf, world scouting’s top award. She joined such famous figures such as Lord Baden Powell and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who have also been given the award for outstanding service to international scouting.
Shaddick, 85, began her career with the scouts in an innocuous way more than 50 years ago, when her young son begged her to become a volunteer cub leader, or Akela. Despite having four young children at home at the time, she agreed to give it a shot and signed up for a weekend training course in a basement in Pierrefonds.
Much to her own shock and surprise, she loved it.
“My friends thought I was crazy,” Shaddick said. « They said, ‘You have four children, including a one-year old. And now you’re taking on a responsibility for more children. You’ll go mad!’ But I never did. I just loved it.”
In 1965, Shaddick’s husband was transferred to England. She was quickly recruited to help with the Scouts overseas, eventually being promoted to assistant district commissioner.
When she returned home to Quebec, she was once again made a commissioner, but there was a problem: women weren’t allowed to serve in the role.
Undaunted, she continued, serving as ‘acting’ commissioner for several years until the modifier was quietly dropped without protest.
“I met people at conferences who said, ‘you can’t do that!’” Shaddick said. "And I said, ‘Well, it looks like I’m doing it.”
Shaddick eventually retired as commissioner, but could not bear to leave the scouting world behind. When Montreal hosted the World Scout Conference, she was inspired by the variety of people she met.
“I knew right away. I was going international!” she said.
“My friends thought I was crazy,” Shaddick said. « They said, ‘You have four children, including a one-year old. And now you’re taking on a responsibility for more children?" -
Over the years, Shaddick organized several international programs, sending Scouts to work overseas in community development programs. She was inspired by the African red ribbon AIDS badge, which sent Scouts into African schools to teach AIDS eduction to children, and has been tirelessly waging a battle ever since to bring the badge to Canada.
Shaddick is a passionate advocate of the Scout movement, and genuinely believes it can change the world. She is tired of hearing only negative stories in the media about the small number of pedophile Scout leaders, and has made it her mission to spread the positive word.
“During the crisis in Egypt, there were 300 scouts in uniform out there taking people food and first aid in the streets. Now, that’s a story. But do you ever see it?” she said.
She believes that Scouting has many benefits for young boys.
“It gives them a sense of belonging to something that’s important to them,” she said. “Joining is their own decision, a step towards growing up, towards learning leadership, towards learning respect towards any other religion or group in the world. It doesn’t matter, because they’re all scouts.”
Shaddick’s six children are all grown now. All of them participated in Scouts in some way. But while most of them have moved on, she never has.
“I needed to do something with my life besides raising children,” she said. “I tried volunteering, but I wasn’t terribly happy about it, and was never the type to join a women’s club.”
“Scouting was just the thing, and I loved it from the beginning.”