Photo credits: Medina Krluch
The design community remembers Emma McAllister RGD Emeritus who passed away in late 2019.
We’ve collected thoughts from the community below. If you knew Emma and would like to add your memories of her to this page of tributes, please email . We will also be posting to social media shortly, where we also welcome your contributions.
"I first met Emma when she was studying design at Cambrian College in Sudbury. In a short time, I would come to appreciate her thoughtfulness, her insights and her deep commitment to the ethical practice of design. Over the years, she served on RGD’s Student Committee, Provisional Committee, Accessibility Committee and Ethics Committee. And, after successfully completing RGD’s Certification Process, she would become RGD’s Vice President of Ethics where she was instrumental in the rewriting of our Rules of Professional Conduct. These now form the basis for our new joint Code of Ethics document with the GDC and SDGQ. This is an “official” rundown of her most evident contributions to our organization, but it only scratches the service of what she truly contributed to RGD and it doesn’t in any way express what she meant to me personally. She was a valued friend who taught me about philosophy, politics, identity and even hockey and super-heroes. Over my 20 years with the organization, RGD has always been made up of design professionals who care. They care about their community; they share their knowledge and time; they contribute to making our organization more relevant and meaningful for designers across Canada. Emma is one of many RGD Members who have touched me over the years through their commitment, creativity and passion for design. Emma, though, was truly exceptional and her influence and intellect reached far beyond the design community. She left design to pursue philosophy and was hoping to do her Master’s Degree sometime in the near future. In this particularly challenging and scary time, I feel her loss ever more acutely. And I am not alone."
- Hilary Ashworth, RGD Executive Director
"I met Emma McAllister in 2003 when she was a student in my design class. I soon knew that she was going to be a challenge in the classroom, but not because of anything to do with physical or medical impairments. Emma was a challenge to teach because she lived to question everything. She pushed those around her to try harder, be smarter and to make your words count— faculty included. She loved to debate everything from longstanding design principles to world politics and of course, when if ever, our Leafs would drink from the Stanley Cup. If you were fortunate enough to know Emma, you became a little more informed, a little less self important and much wiser for the experience. Her passing has left us all to deal with with significant loss. The design community has lost an exceptional professional, the academic world has lost a consummate thinker and I have lost a role model and very dear friend."
- Ron Beltrame RGD Emeritus, formerly Professor of Graphic Design at Cambrian College
"Emma constantly pushed and challenged the norm. Nothing was black or white with her, but fascinating shades of grey. Her love of design, typography, philosophy, science and magic made her an atypical kinda gal who loved to make you question the world around you. May she live forever in another multiverse."
"I was deeply saddened by the news of the passing of a brilliantly talented student, esteemed colleague and friend, Emma McAllister. Throughout a brief but remarkable life, she faced seemingly insurmountable odds, yet triumphed despite debilitating health challenges. She was a motivating force to all those who had the privilege of calling her a friend. Some of my deepest and most fulfilling conversations were had with Emma… whether creative in nature, purely existential or debating Leafs vs. Habs. Rest in great peace, dear friend".
"I first met Emma as a student in the Graphic Design program at Cambrian College. Having graduated several years before me, I looked up to her as a pioneer of the program. There was something about her presence, her unapologetic personality that instantly made her a respectable figure in my eyes. Later on, Emma moved into our office in Downtown Sudbury and that’s where I got to know her more personally. I learned just how passionate and determined she was as a person. It was clear that Emma was a deep individual. Many profound philosophical discussions were had in that tiny office on Elm Street while she was around. She was highly ethical, and always pushed us as young professionals to know our worth, stand up for ourselves and hold our position when needed. She always held our feet to the fire and for that I am thankful. In a society where correctness is expected, Emma did not fear pushing the envelope. Her bluntness and honesty were refreshing and needed".
"Emma was an incredible person who gave freely of her time and energy for the various causes and people she felt strongly for. She was the founding President of the Sudbury Design Society, a non-profit organization which through her leadership has successfully run various events in Sudbury to help raise the awareness of design locally. Her passion for improving the design industry in Sudbury has helped shape it into a welcoming environment for all designers. Her legacy will live on in all the people that she has mentored over the years as well as the initiatives she was a part of".