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Thursday, 24 November 2011

A giant in the ECE field passes away

Dr. Fraser Mustard, 1927 - 2011
November 24, 2011

No sooner have you spoken than what you have said becomes the property of another.
-Hindustani Proverb
Dr. Fraser Mustard's impassioned campaign calling attention to the crucial first years of life, and how brain development during that time sets the stage for health and well being, inspired economists, educators, and politicians, both in his home nation of Canada and around the world.  Mustard died at home on November 16 after battling cancer. 

In the late 1990s, he co-chaired a seminal report, with former New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor, Margaret McCain, for the Government of Ontario on early childhood learning.  The report was issued as "The Early Years Study — Reversing the Real Brain Drain".  In the introduction to this report, Mustard and McCain observed:

"We examined the evidence from the neurosciences, developmental psychology, social sciences, anthropology, epidemiology, and other disciplines about the relationship among early brain and child development and learning, behaviour, and health throughout all stages of life. We consider, in view of this evidence, that the period of early child development is equal to or, in some cases, greater in importance for the quality of the next generation than the periods children and youth spend in education or post secondary education."

A number of friends of the World Forum Foundation shared their memories of Dr. Mustard...

Sheldon Shaeffer from Thailand:  "I was largely ignorant of the importance of early childhood until Fraser (whom I thought then was already an ancient sage!) came to IDRC in Ottawa in the early 1980s, where I was working, and gave such a passionate and convincing presentation that I was hooked for life.  He made such a difference to so many."

Alan Pence from Canada: "I saw that Fraser was doing a presentation at the University of Victoria and w ent to the lecture hall to hear him.  His presence and the manner of his presentation were ‘biblical’— the Old Testament prophet coming down off the mountain to share his wisdom.  I was captivated, met with him, was later invited to join the CIAR group he was developing, and thoroughly enjoyed the contact and discussions over the years.  He will be greatly missed by many.