Recipients of the 2012 Prime Minister's Volunteer Awards
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In 1982, Randy Fowler suffered a traumatic brain injury in a horrific car crash that killed his best friend. The promising young football player spent months in a coma and was expected to remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. After years of intensive rehabilitation, Mr. Fowler has battled back to become a prolific and passionate motivational speaker.
Mr. Fowler has shared his devastating experience with more than 30,000 students over his 25-year involvement with the PARTY (Prevent Alcohol and Risk Related Trauma in Youth) program. In frank speeches and a moving video circulated to schools across Canada and the United States, Mr. Fowler delivers a compelling message that is equally cautionary and hopeful. At the Association for the Rehabilitation and the Brain Injured (ARBI), Mr. Fowler is a role model for providing mentorship and hope. As a member of ARBI's Board of Directors, he provides a survivor's perspective. An energetic fundraiser, he has given many corporate presentations during the annual United Way Campaign and raised roughly $50,000 for the Southern Alberta Brain Injury Society's annual Walk N' Roll campaign.
Mr. Fowler's candour and courage lend depth and power to his message. He hopes to influence listeners, especially young people, to make smart choices, such as using designated drivers and wearing helmets and other protective gear. Mr. Fowler's success is immeasurable, much like his generosity of spirit.
Timea Nagy arrived in Canada from her native Hungary more than 10 years ago, hoping to find work as a nanny or housekeeper. Instead, she was abducted and forced to work in the sex trade for months before she managed to escape her captors. Now Ms. Nagy devotes her life to raising awareness about human trafficking and providing crucial support to survivors.
Ms. Nagy operates Ontario's only dedicated safe house for victims of human trafficking. In cooperation with law enforcement, she has rescued more than 155 victims of human trafficking, offering invaluable compassion and genuine empathy. Her mentorship has changed lives, making victims into survivors, advocates and allies. In the wider public sphere, Ms. Nagy is just as influential and passionate a leader. She speaks frankly to law enforcement, justice officials, government and the public about a criminal practice that people often thinks happens "elsewhere," but that happens with shocking frequency in Canada. Ms. Nagy has also been recognized for her efforts in helping pass Bill C-268 and Bill C-310, which instituted minimum sentences for human trafficking of children under the Criminal Code of Canada. Ms. Nagy is the first Canadian Citizen to receive a Fredric Douglas Award by the International Organization: Free The Slaves.
Ms. Nagy has published an account of her ordeal, called Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor. In 2009, she created walk-with-me.org, an organization combating human trafficking in Canada and throughout the world. With impressive courage and fierce determination, Ms. Nagy has turned her tragedy into triumph and is helping other victims to do the same.
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Alfreda Bérubé - Atlantic
Éclosion means "hatching" - as in hatching a plan or idea. Alfreda Bérubé has always had plenty of both. She also has the commitment and determination to turn her plans and ideas into reality. In 1989, in the small community of Sainte-Anne-de-Madawaska in northern New Brunswick, Mme. Bérubé became the founding president of the Centre de l'Éclosion Inc. This not-for-profit organization is a model of community building and social inclusion, providing training and employment support to individuals with disabilities.
Mme. Bérubé's advocacy work is as inspiring as her amazing momentum. Twenty years after the Centre de l'Éclosion was founded, she opened FABÉMA, an arts and music school for people with disabilities. This new venture then inspired Mme. Bérubé to help create Au-delà des différences (Beyond Differences), an evening of theatre, music and dance organized and performed by people with disabilities, as well as guest artists. Reflecting the work of 75 people, the show is performed for approximately 800 audience members each year and raises thousands of dollars that are then redistributed as grants to the participants.
Mme. Bérubé's staunch support has not only raised funds to establish and operate the Centre de l'Éclosion and FABÉMA, it has also materially changed the lives of local people with disabilities. Mme. Bérubé has created a workshop model that educates and empowers adults with disabilities so they can contribute to the wider community. She also devotes her time and energy to many other non-profit and social justice organizations.
Richard Busque - Quebec
This richly deserved honour celebrates a life of service. Richard Busque was born, lived and died in the Beauce region of Quebec where he helped create more than 20 charitable organizations and community services over a span of 35 years. Praised as a perceptive and responsive leader, Mr. Busque had a facility for achieving results in the present while inspiring hope for the future.
As a municipal politician and executive in the health and social service sector, Mr. Busque was uniquely positioned to identify many of his community's most pressing needs. When he saw families in need, he started a food bank, a meal service program and a Christmas toy drive. He also created a centralized fundraising network to benefit multiple community organizations. When Mr. Busque saw people who were homeless and struggling with mental illness or addiction, he launched rehabilitation and reintegration services, including a micro-credit program. He was instrumental in establishing the 911 call centre and essential ambulance services in the region, and he was a champion for housing assistance for seniors and support services for terminally ill children and their families. He was a staunch supporter of the Heart & Stroke Foundation and a frequent sponsor of local sports teams.
Mr. Busque's talent for uniting and motivating people has rekindled interest in volunteerism and philanthropy in the region where he lived his entire life. His is a legacy of stewardship and belonging that will serve the Beauce region for years to come.
Doctor Rick Irvin - Ontario
In addition to his duties as a family physician in Barrie, Ontario, Dr. Irvin is widely praised for his pioneering work in palliative care. His efforts have not only changed the way end-of-life care is viewed and provided in his region, but also raised awareness of issues that will affect more and more Ontarians in the coming decade. His work stresses that care for dying patients and their families is a core medical need, gives respect and dignity, and includes bereavement care.
Dr. Irvin's innovative thinking and effective engagement with the medical community were instrumental in creating palliative care education in the North Simcoe Muskoka region. He helped secure funding to provide essential end-of-life care and was a driving force in establishing Hospice Simcoe's Hospice House, a 10-bed residential hospice devoted to care and support services for patients and families dealing with life-limiting illness. Dr. Irvin's personal engagement with patients is also much celebrated. He received Cancer Care Ontario's Human Touch Award in 2009 after having been nominated by his peers for exceptional care and service to his patients. He was named 2010 Family Physician of the Year for his region by the Ontario College of Family Physicians. In 2011 he was awarded the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre Board of Directors Award of Excellence.
Dr. Irvin's work to raise awareness of end-of-life issues, his advocacy for education and funding for palliative care, and his unfailing optimism are an inspiration to all, as well as a stellar example for the medical community.
Ashid Bahl - Prairies
For the Love of Children is more than just the name of the not-for-profit organization Ashid Bahl founded in 1980; it's the organization's raison d'être. To date, the Calgarian's efforts have raised more than $15 million through the For the Love of Children Society of Alberta for children who are financially disadvantaged, facing life-threatening illnesses or living with disabilities.
Mr. Bahl leads by example, volunteering his time on the organization's Board of Directors and encouraging private sector and corporate associates to do likewise. Many projects and programs, such as aid operations in Asia and Africa, require hands-on participation as well as funds and in-kind services. Mr. Bahl builds schools and orphanages around the world, and helps countries hit with natural disasters or war. Mr. Bahl's skill in creating partnerships with corporations and governmental organizations enables the Society to reach children in need across the city, the province and the world, with over 100,000 children helped over his 32 years. Mr. Bahl also engages with other not-for-profit groups, consulting on best practices, sharing his three decades of experience and inspiring others to launch philanthropic initiatives of their own.
The benefits of Mr. Bahl's energy and generosity are too many and varied to recount in full. For the Love of Children Society provides children with equipment, medication and treatments-such as specialized walkers, neonatal formula, accessible playground retrofits and even therapeutic riding programs-that they cannot afford due to financial constraints. The Society also provides such enriching experiences as summer picnics for children coming from organizations such as the Alberta Children's Hospital, annual visits from Santa's Express and once-in-a-lifetime aerospace education programs for gifted students. At home and abroad, Mr. Bahl's tireless leadership continues to spur good works that change young lives.
Joseph Richard "Rich" Goulet - British Columbia and the North
"Together Everyone Achieves More." It's a fitting personal motto (with a fitting acronym: TEAM) for a dedicated athletic director, coach and educator. Mr. Goulet is an institution at Pitt Meadows Secondary School in British Columbia's lower mainland, and a mainstay of the school's renowned basketball program.
Mr. Goulet is a hands-on director with a titanic work ethic; he's famed locally for repainting the lines on the basketball court after each cleaning. He teaches by example that there is no task too small to do well, whether it's collecting garbage after a tournament or handwriting receipts. Though basketball is his passion, Mr. Goulet encourages players at every age and skill level to participate in sports of all kinds. His fundraising prowess benefits myriad teams and arts and cultural groups within the school and community. He coaches his own school's teams as well as regional and provincial squads; his clinics, camps and tournaments have made Pitt Meadows a basketball mecca. Mr. Goulet's programs have run for more than 40 years and his mentoring has left a lasting impression, promoting volunteerism and involvement long after students have graduated.
Many of Mr. Goulet's successes are quantifiable: he recently logged his 1,000th victory as coach of the Pitt Meadows Senior Boys' basketball team. Perhaps more important are the successes that don't make the score sheet: Mr. Goulet's example is an ongoing masterclass in positivity, participation and problem solving - skills that serve students well on and off the court.
Caisse Populaire de Clare - Atlantic
Caisse Populaire de Clare, which serves several communities in the Municipality of Clare, Nova Scotia, is a long-time core supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society's local Relay For Life. The relay is a friendly overnight race in which teams run, walk or stroll around a track to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who have died and fight back against the disease.
Recognizing the profound impact that cancer has on the lives of its staff and clients, Caisse Populaire de Clare pledged its support from the Relay's beginning in Clare in 2005. Today, as a proud Event Sponsor, Caisse Populaire de Clare provides support in the form of committee members from its staff, meeting space and promotional assistance. Caisse Populaire de Clare's pledges, sponsorship monies and gifts in kind account for nearly one quarter of the approximately $308,000 raised to date by the Relay For Life in Clare.
Caisse Populaire de Clare's community outreach extends beyond just one event; it supports other community initiatives with loans to small businesses, personal finance education programs and activism in local service and Acadian cultural organizations. The organization also sponsors a much-needed transportation service for persons with disabilities, supports renovation projects at local parks and sponsors numerous schools and local sports teams. It is no exaggeration that Caisse Populaire de Clare has profoundly enhanced the region's well-being.
Savoie & Savoie, avocats - Quebec
When it comes to community involvement, this Repentigny law firm sets the bar high. Founded in 1975 and comprising of three attorneys and three paralegals, Savoie & Savoie supports more than 20 regional events, projects and organizations each year.
Savoie & Savoie provides $10,000 in annual media sponsorships, promoting organizations and events through posters, billboard campaigns, flyers and websites. These campaigns, along with the firm's impressive social network, have secured long-term community assistance, both financial and in-kind. As individuals, the principals and staff at Savoie & Savoie serve as organizers and administrators for various groups: Résidence Maurice-Rivest, which provides affordable housing; Excellence Repentigny, which offers grants to young artists and athletes; and Solidarité Misère Monde, which supports humanitarian aid agencies in Canada and the developing world.
Perhaps the community's most anticipated annual event is the Festival Feu et Glace, a spectacular nine-day winter carnival. Savoie & Savoie attorneys Claude Savoie and Jean-Sébastien Brunet serve on the festival's executive committee as chair and secretary treasurer, respectively. Savoie & Savoie also provides considerable financial support to ensure this event can continue to remain a free or low-cost celebration the entire community can enjoy.
Savoie & Savoie has leveraged its excellent reputation and trusted advisor status to raise funds and mobilize volunteers for all its charitable beneficiaries. As a small firm that invests more than 1,000 volunteer hours and $20,000 in direct financial support to its community every year, Savoie & Savoie demonstrates that small can, indeed, be mighty.
Ziebarth Electrical Contractors Ltd. - Ontario
Ziebarth Electrical Contractors (ZEC), has been in business in Ottawa since 1977. ZEC is an organization that believes philanthropy is about more than just paying out - it's about pitching in. ZEC is a major supporter of Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region (HFHNCR). They have been involved with every build since HFHNCR began in 1993, donating the labour, materials and funds required to wire 37 new homes and six retrofits.
ZEC's President and CEO Johannes Ziebarth is a true leader when it comes to community engagement in the construction industry. He enlists the help of suppliers and labour groups to donate time, money and materials to campaigns by HFHNCR, the Ottawa Hospital Foundation, YMCA-YWCA, Shepherds of Good Hope, Algonquin College Foundation and many others. Johannes and his staff support more than 30 Ottawa organizations that touch the lives of individuals and families in need of housing, medical treatment, community services and education opportunities.
Johannes Ziebarth is currently the President of Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region. In the past, Ziebarth Electrical Contractors has been the recipient of the "Outstanding Philanthropic Regional Corporation of the Year" (2002) by the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals), "Company of the Year Silver Medalist" by the Greater Ottawa Chamber of Commerce (2004), and this year, Johannes Ziebarth was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for Community Service.
ZEC's multi-year financial support and donations in-kind help to fund essential infrastructure upgrades and construction of new facilities. ZEC leads in promoting volunteerism by example, strengthening the community as much with sweat equity as with financial donations.
Canadian Pacific - Prairies
Hunger knows no season, but the holidays can be particularly difficult for individuals and families struggling to put food on the table. In 1999, the Holiday Train, a Canadian Pacific freight train decorated with thousands of twinkling lights, embarked on its maiden journey. This is an inventive cross-country campaign that collects donations of food and money to support local food banks and raise awareness of hunger. In 2001, a second brightly-decorated Holiday Train was added to provide outreach in the United States. The Holiday Trains now travel 6,200 miles, and stops in more than 150 communities across six Canadian provinces and seven US states.
At each stop on the Holiday Train route, a boxcar stage opens up to host a free concert (past performers include Wayne Rostad, Melanie Doane, the Odds and Wide Mouth Mason) and Canadian Pacific makes a donation to the area food bank. CP employees and local volunteers collect food and cash donations onsite, all of which stays in the community. Municipal, provincial and state governments and local fire and police departments also help to make this a safe and free community event. Area schools participate by engaging students to decorate boxes that they fill with food donations, and by educating them about the persistent and genuine problem of hunger in their communities.
To date, the Holiday Train program has raised approximately $6.4 million and 2.6 million pounds of food. Local campaigns centred on the Holiday Train event raise tens of thousands of dollars each year, which often includes a day's wages donated by the engineers and conductors who drive the Holiday Train. It's a heartwarming way to show that all are aboard in the fight against hunger.
TELUS - British Columbia and the North
Making connections is big business for TELUS. On Vancouver's downtown eastside it's also a passion. For over 22 years at the busy Union Gospel Mission on East Hastings Street and its sister site in New Westminster, BC, TELUS Community Ambassadors have been making much-needed connections, serving more than 700 hot meals every day to men, women and families in need.
The TELUS executives, employees and retirees involved provide much more than just food. They offer a welcoming smile, a friendly hand and a sincere connection for people who need these meals to make it through another day. Many of the Union Gospel Mission's clients are struggling with poverty, addiction, homelessness and health concerns that make dignity and companionship rare commodities. The need is real and unrelenting, so TELUS team members, with the company's support, commit to volunteer during business hours, when the help is most needed. Nationally, TELUS team members have given more than 4.7 million volunteer hours of community service since 2000.
Another facet of TELUS' partnership with the Union Gospel Mission is a Charitable Giving Programme that matches employee and retiree contributions dollar for dollar, helping to buy healthier food and more of it. This philosophy of "active compassion" spills out of the kitchens and into the wider community, offering a model for other businesses and individuals on how to "give where they live, work and serve." In BC's lower mainland and across Canada, TELUS continues to live its "We give where we live" philosophy.
Exploits Valley Community Coalition Inc. - Atlantic
The challenge of raising a family in a largely rural coastal region was the impetus for creating the Exploits Valley Community Coalition (EVCC) in 2004. The EVCC promotes and supports the healthy development and well-being of children and families through a network of Family Resource Centres, Early Learning Centres and Healthy Baby Clubs across six communities in central Newfoundland, five of which are rural.
The EVCC offers individuals and families access to resources such as community gardens, bulk buying clubs, social events and other programs aimed at increasing regional participation and reducing inequality. The organization engages with other local programs through a coalition aimed at reducing duplication of services and competition for funding. The EVCC extends its reach by creating partnerships with other governmental and advocacy groups such as the Central Housing and Homelessness Network and the Committee Against Violence. The group has also created several new internal positions - including the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Coordinator - to help deliver broader-based services and educational programs effectively and efficiently.
The benefits of such original thinking are evident in the popularity of the EVCC's programs, many of which have waiting lists. Success often demands invention. Faced with stagnant funding and a compelling need, the EVCC responded with an innovative "social entrepreneurship" solution, opening a licensed preschool in the same building as the Family Resource Centre in Botwood, NL. The licensed preschool partnered with a Family Resource Centre, was the first in the province of Newfoundland. A number of programs were modeled after it.
Go le Grand Défi Inc. - Quebec
Started by Ironman triathlete Pierre Lavoie in 2008, the goal of Go le Grand Défi Inc. is to enable children to make good choices about nutrition and exercise.
Le Grand Défi (in English, The Big Challenge) is the name of the organization's 1 000-kilometre cycling event, massive school tour and a related contest. For every 15-minute increment of physical activity, students earn one "energy cube" for their school. In 2010-2011, participating schools collected a total of 36 million cubes, which represents an average of 52.5 hours of activity per student per month.
Le Grand Défi is a vibrant intersection of the education, business, non-profit, government and media sectors. The campaign engages its tech-savvy young audience by making its educational material accessible and incredibly fun. Le Grand Défi's caravan arrives in school parking lots equipped with stationary bicycles for virtual races and interactive touchscreen games on nutrition. In 2010-2011, Le Grand Défi visited more than 250,000 students in Quebec and BC, and the enthusiasm for energy cubes overflowed into staff rooms and family homes. The cycling event draws more than 1,000 riders, and proceeds from the cycling event ($900,000 in 2010-2011) go to fund healthy-living projects and research into hereditary illnesses.
At its most fundamental, Le Grand Défi gets children moving, a healthy habit that then spreads among schools and families for the long-term benefit of all. The energy cube contest has also inspired a similar initiative: soon students will be challenged to collect "grey matter cubes" to promote school perseverance. It will be a fun way to build healthy minds in those increasingly healthy bodies.
Child Development Institute - Ontario
"Bringing hope." That is the motto of the multi-service Child Development Institute (CDI) based in Toronto, which is making waves worldwide with its internationally acclaimed Stop Now and Plan (SNAP®) model. SNAP is a cognitive behavioural strategy that addresses aggression, bullying and anti-social behaviour in children under 12, and aims to prevent these children from having further mental health issues and/or becoming young offenders. Rigorously tested, evaluated and refined over 25 years, SNAP is now used in more than 80 communities in Canada, the United States, Australia and Europe. It serves more than 10,000 at-risk children and families.
SNAP teaches emotion regulation, self-control and problem-solving skills to at-risk children to help them to stop and think before they act. The focus of the model is to develop and evaluate prevention and intervention programs that help change the paths of aggressive children and youth, and deter them from entering the criminal justice system. CDI is justly proud of this robust, "made-in- Canada" evidence-based model developed in collaboration with provincial and federal governments, corporations, foundations and volunteers. By soliciting input and support from families, schools, social services and other community stakeholders, the SNAP programs engage a broad network around each child, increasing his or her chances of success.
CDI's SNAP model truly is an innovative, self-sustaining social enterprise. Research demonstrates that the SNAP model programs are both effective and economical: the program cost for each child is a fraction of the costs associated with keeping that child in secure custody for even one year. Moreover, by giving children and their caregivers the tools to cope, the SNAP programs bring hope. It helps rewrite the scripts of thousands of life stories, giving them happier endings.
Lo-Se-Ca Foundation - Prairies
Love. Service. Care. These values define this vibrant organization in name and in aim. Lo-Se-Ca began in 1992 in St. Albert, Alberta with a single community residence that provided support for persons with developmental disabilities. It has since grown to encompass 23 homes in St. Albert and Edmonton and serves as a hub of employment, transportation and holistic support services.
Lo-Se-Ca forges vital links between individuals with disabilities and the larger community, connecting residents with volunteer and paid positions in local businesses. It also provides the entire city with opportunities for volunteerism and engagement through its programming, residences and its popular I'm Unique Thrift Store. Nationally, Lo-Se-Ca was instrumental in St. Albert's successful bid to host the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in 2012. Soon, the group will aim even higher - literally. Lo-Se-Ca residents, family members and staff will travel to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, raising funds and awareness, and sharing resources and best practices with a like-minded local charity.
Lo-Se-Ca fosters the twin values of independence and involvement. By modeling life skills and providing low-cost housing, Lo-Se-Ca helps persons with disabilities create caring and supportive communities of their own. It then enables them to find meaningful involvement within the wider community such as taking a fitness class, visiting a farmer's market or putting in a good day's work at a job. The Lo-Se-Ca Foundation shows that, by empowering individuals, a not-for profit organization can foster a thriving community.
Ilisaqsivik Society - British Columbia and the North
With the goal of enabling everyone in the community to truly thrive, the people of Clyde River, Nunavut incorporated Ilisaqsivik Society in 1997. This community-initiated, community-run not-for-profit promotes physical, emotional and spiritual wellness in a remote hamlet on Baffin Island. The organization's culturally based support services promote Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, which means traditional Inuit Knowledge, and Inuuqatigiittiarniq, which means healthy connection of mind, body, spirit and the environment.
As one of the town's largest employers, Ilisaqsivik Society touches the lives of all of the approximately 830 men, women and children in Clyde River. With a sharp focus on Inuit culture and meaningful Elder involvement in every facet of its work, Ilisaqsivik Society builds community capacity by providing employment, training and programming. The people identify their own needs and then devise ways to meet them - from establishing computer services and youth drop-in programs to hosting on-the-land healing retreats and parent-support radio shows. Ilisaqsivik Society actively seeks partnerships with territorial and federal government bodies and private-sector businesses to enhance its resource base and broaden its program offerings.
Ilisaqsivik Society cultivates a sense of pride in the community. Members seek to improve the lives of their families, friends and neighbours every day, and work together to create change. The importance given to the Inuktitut language in all programs and deep Elder involvement help preserve Inuit culture while also providing access to resources from the wider world. Ilisaqsivik Society ably demonstrates that a remote community need not be isolated.
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