Dean’s Statement on the Passing of Madame Helen Vari (1931-2023)

March 21, 2023

The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, along with the University of Toronto and many friends and family in our global community, are deeply grieving the loss of Madame Helen Vari (1931-2023), who passed away peacefully on March 16, 2023. We send our deepest condolences to Madame Vari’s family in this difficult time.

Of the many elements of Madame Vari’s tremendous story, there is one statement that continues to stay with me: “education is transformative and can change the world.” It is a belief that I share and one that I cherish as my work as Dean continues. I am awed by Madame Vari’s impact on this Institute, reflected in the stories shared with me and the sustained enthusiasm and devotion of our students and faculty.

Madame Vari, with her late husband Dr. George Vari, walked the talk, helping hundreds of aspiring teacher candidates at OISE and Victoria College for more than 25 years. The Vari Scholarships, organized through the George and Helen Vari Foundation, continue to give students the opportunity to grow their careers and make deep impact on the field of education. Madame Vari was dedicated to making education accessible, fostering long-lasting relationships at OISE with enduring influence.

The Vari legacy will continue to inspire OISE’s mission to prepare our community for local and global challenges, now and into the future. Madame Vari’s legacy – her drive, integrity and thoughtfulness – continues in the work we do and the spirit we share with others.

We hope to make Madame Vari proud, now and always.


Professor Erica N. Walker

Dean, OISE

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