Mary Majka, 90, died on February 12, 2014. Her death was announced by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Born in Poland, Majka survived World War II in a forced labor camp. Postwar, Majka earned a medical degree at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, then emigrated to Canada in 1951 as a displaced person. She and her husband, a medical pathologist, relocated to Monckton, New Brunswick, in 1961.
Helping to form the Moncton Naturalists’ Club, they became active in opposition to shooting birds of prey in 1962, and on behalf of protecting wildlife habitat in 1963. Majka in 1967 won passage of amendments to the New Brunswick Game Act that protected all hawks, owls, and eagles. Also in 1967, Majka founded the CKCW television program Have You Seen? to encourage wildlife appreciation among children. The program was aired until 1974.
A cofounder of the Canadian Nature Federation in 1971, and later of the New Brunswick Federation of Naturalists, for which she was for 10 years editor of the magazine N.B. Naturalist/Le Naturaliste du N.-B. Majka also served for six years as a trustee of the National & Provincial Parks Association of Canada, and helped to form the Fundy Hiking Trail Association, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and the Nature Trust of New Brunswick.
Majka spent the latter part of her life at Mary’s Point on Shepody Bay, often believed to have been named in her honor, but actually named after a member of the Micmac tribe more than 200 years earlier. The area was named a wetland of international significance in 1982, and was made a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve in 1987. Majka did receive many other honors, including the Order of Canada in 2006.