Recipients of the 2016 Canada’s Volunteer Awards

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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National awards

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Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award

Jean Marie De Koninck

  • Photograph 1: Jean Marie De Koninck

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos and Lise Casgrain present Jean-Marie De Koninck with Canada’s Volunteer Award for the Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award on June 10, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

In 1984, when he was a professor and researcher in mathematics at Laval University, Jean-Marie De Koninck agreed to coach the Laval swim team—l’équipe du Rouge et Or —in his spare time. He quickly realized that his elite athletes were fleeing to the U.S., attracted by the generous scholarship programs of American universities. To stop the exodus of his best swimmers, he needed to create his own scholarship program.

In the fall of 1984, he was listening to a radio show about the large number of deaths caused by impaired driving, and heard that part of the problem was bar and restaurant customers not wanting to leave their cars in the parking lot and return home in a taxi. That gave him an idea: during Christmas holidays, his swimmers could offer a chauffeur service to drivers who did not feel able to safely drive home in their own cars. This is how Operation Red Nose was born in December 1984. Thirty-two years later, thanks to more than 1.1 million volunteers across Canada, Operation Red Nose has offered more than two million rides home. Moreover, each year, through the donations of customers and private sponsors, some 1.6 million dollars is collected and handed over to the 100 host organizations that organize Operation Red Nose in their communities.

There are three basic reasons for the impressive success of Professor De Koninck’s initiative. First of all, Operation Red Nose does not preach or lecture to drivers. It simply offers a free private chauffeur service to anyone who wants to get home safely with their own car. Each client can draw his or her own conclusions: next time around, it might be a good idea to call a taxi, ask a friend for a ride, or consider another, safer form of transportation. Secondly, Red Nose volunteers feel useful and that they have perhaps even saved lives, while having fun meeting other volunteers and very happy customers. Thirdly, the not-for-profit associations that organize Operation Red Nose in their regions not only contribute to improving road safety in their communities, but also raise funds for amateur sport.

It’s interesting to note that Jean-Marie De Koninck’s idea has gone beyond Canadian borders and has been adopted invarious large European cities, including in France, Switzerland and Portugal. For the past 32 years, Professor De Koninck continues to volunteer for Operation Red Nose. He likes to drive customers home, but he also takes great pleasure in listening to volunteers tell their stories about their wonderful experiences driving Operation Red Nose customers home safely.

Emerging Leader

Ryan Hreljac

  • Photograph 2: Ryan Hreljac

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Ryan Hreljac with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Emerging Leader on June 10, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa

At the age of six, after Ryan Hreljac heard about children suffering from a lack of clean drinking water, he collected money to build a well in Africa as part of a school project. His leadership led to the creation of the Ryan’s Well Foundation. Ryan engaged his community and beyond, including businesses, to raise awareness and money for more wells and education. In 17 years, he and the Foundation have raised almost $8 million and completed 1 000 water projects in developing countries. His initiatives helped to move at least 1 million people from the harsh cycle of deprivation to a more promising future.

Ryan uses social media extensively to inspire, inform and engage millions. He speaks across Canada and around the world. His messages are simple: Everybody has the right to access clean water; and anyone can make a difference. His experiences have also inspired youth to become engaged in charitable activities. More than $50,000 was pledged in 2014–2015 for the Foundation’s annual fundraising challenges by students from 52 schools in six countries.

Ryan’s work also develops responsible, engaged citizens who make a difference in their own communities and around the world. With Ryan’s guidance, a grade 3 student in Edmonton raised $31,000 for Ryan’s Well. Another group of young students organized a toy sale to raise money for an orphanage in Kenya and then another $1,400 for earthquake relief in Haiti. Featured in numerous documentaries, books, textbooks, newspapers and magazines, his message has always been focused on the importance of giving back through volunteerism. Believing ordinary people can do extraordinary things, Ryan works in cooperation with school boards, Canadian non-governmental organizations and the private sector across Canada and globally to bring people together for a common good.

Regional awards

In this section

Community Leader

Linda Ryan - Atlantic

  • Photograph 3: Linda Ryan

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Linda Ryan with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Community Leader (Atlantic) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

In 2010, after being diagnosed with breast cancer and during her recovery from treatments, Newfoundlander Linda Ryan established Pink Days in Bloom (PDIB), a high-spirited fundraising initiative. She pioneered a creative approach to fill a need in her community that combines her passion for people, plants, pink trees and tea to fund innovative breast cancer research programs and purchase equipment in Atlantic Canada. Her mission was to raise awareness and $100,000 for the cause.

Linda’s Pink Days In Bloom initiative stems from a campaign in the United States that sells a flower called Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea. For each flower sold, a dollar is donated to the cause. From the Pink Days In Bloom initiative grew “The Pink Tree Project”. Linda raises awareness by planting pink-flowering trees in home gardens and public parks in St. John's and environs, across the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the country. She also organizes Pink Days In Bloom's Annual Sea-to-Sea Tea, involving The Empress Hotel in British Columbia to raise awareness from the Atlantic to Pacific. As Pink Days In Bloom has grown, so have donations to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, advancing research and saving lives.

Linda is making a positive impact on community spirit while beautifying landscapes, with new PDIB initiatives in the works every year that spill over beyond the gardening seasoning into Christmas Wreaths for the Cure Campaign. The Little Christmas Fair and Pink Poinsettia Days In Bloom. The community remains engaged through her efforts to embrace numerous community partners and due to media attention of many of the awareness events. Linda not only organizes events in support of the cause, her enthusiasm and positive attitude inspires people from all walks of life to get involved and be part of this beautiful and ever-growing initiative. She has inspired Jim Landry, Executive Director of Landscape NB/PEI to ride a pink bike across Prince Edward Island annually to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Sheridan Nurseries in Ontario and Proven Winners in Grand Haven, Michigan have also been inspired by her work and Linda has spoken at their respective industry conferences, sharing the secrets to the success of Pink Days In Bloom. Linda Ryan is one of those champions that non-profit organizations dream of. She is passionate about the cause, believes in the great work that is being done, and is just one of those people you can't say no to. Pink Days In Bloom would not be the successful program that it is today without Linda cultivating its growth. Together with her amazing team of flowery friends and supporters, Linda is determined to enrich the lives of others while raising funds for life-saving research and growing a future without breast cancer.

Denis Poitras - Quebec

  • Photograph 4: Denis Poitras

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Denis Poitras with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Community Leader (Quebec) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Since 2008, Denis Poitras has been using his talents as a leader who brings people together by volunteering at the Club de plongeon Agami in Brossard. While serving as the club’s chair from 2010 to 2014, he faced many setbacks that constantly prevented him from expanding the club. It was very difficult for him to recruit new divers and therefore to fund the club. However, as a result of his dedication, resourcefulness and open mindedness, he was able to revive the recreational courses. In the process, he recruited about 40 divers, including several promising ones. Before leaving his position after six years of loyal service, he trained his replacements. Even from a distance, he continues to provide assistance.

The Club de plongeon Agami represents a number of cities and municipalities in Quebec’s Montérégie region. Thanks to his hard work and cordial relationship with the City, Denis Poitras negotiated with his partners that the club should stay. He has maintained the expertise and stability of his coaching staff since 2011. Without the solutions that he provided to save the club, certain divers would never have been able to dream of reaching the pinnacle of their sport. This past year alone, he volunteered for almost 320 hours with the club. His efforts, availability and generosity made it possible for the South Shore region to be represented at the provincial finals of the Quebec Winter Games in Blainville/Rosemère/Ste Thérèse (2009), Beauharnois/Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (2011), Saguenay (2013) and Drummondville (2015), where the region came in second place. Today, the club is in excellent organizational health. It has about 115 divers, some of whom are making their mark at the regional, provincial and even national levels.

While ensuring the continued existence of the club, Denis has been able to think outside the box and give youth the opportunity to challenge themselves. Over the years, through his natural leadership, Denis has inspired other parents of divers to become involved in the club. For example, by demonstrating selflessness, he has encouraged many parents to make a commitment and to show the same dedication, without any expectations and with the satisfaction of a job well done, for the benefit of everyone. He has always been an energetic, positive, cheerful and conscientious person who is naturally altruistic.

Jessica Coriat - Ontario

  • Photograph 5: Jessica Coriat

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Jessica Coriat with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Community Leader (Ontario) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Born with cerebral palsy, Jessica Coriat lives with limited mobility and is dedicated to educating the public about living with a disability and advocating on their behalf. As a child, she required extensive pediatric care and rehabilitation to have an increased quality of life. When she grew older and began the transfer to adult rehabilitation, the transition was made easier by support and education. Jessica feels gifted with a unique perspective and platform to help change the way those living with a disability are understood and treated. She volunteers three days every week supporting patients, staff and families, and she encourages patients to engage in their communities.

Jessica works directly with patients at Toronto Rehab's Lyndhurst Centre for Spinal Cord Rehab providing orientation and facility tours. She also documents dietary preferences, requirements and allergies, then helps feed patients or teaches them to use adaptive cutlery and other aids. Through her work on the UHN Accessibility Transforming Patient Rights Board, which helps hospitals make their buildings more user-friendly, she advocates for more accessible spaces. She is nationally recognized for her volunteer work and advocacy. Through her Scotiabank Game Changer nomination, Jessica harnessed the powers of social media to share her story and help evolve public perceptions. Campaign components included a Facebook ad campaign that was viewed over 70 000 times, plus a fan page created for Jessica to talk about the competition, then later thank her supporters and blog her thoughts on disability, rehab, volunteering, accessible community facilities and other topics. Her inspiring story has been shared a number of times by Toronto Rehab Foundation on its website and in its monthly e-newsletter (10,000 circulation) and annual report. In 2013, The Auroran newspaper also covered her story under the title “Jessica wants to be the ‘Game Changer’ for others with challenges.”

Jessica’s participation in the Living Independently Fully Engaged (LIFEspan) Service, a joint initiative between Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Toronto Rehab, has inspired her parents and the Slaight Family Foundation to contribute $1 million toward Toronto Rehab’s Rumsey Neuro Center, which helps youth and young adults with childhood-onset disabilities to successfully transfer from the pediatric rehabilitation system to the adult health care system. Jessica's passion for increasing mobility and accessibility has improved the quality of life for many. By volunteering her time and sharing her story to inspire others, Jessica is a strong and valued leader in her community.

Don Wall - Prairies

  • Photograph 6: Don Wall

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Don Wall with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Community Leader (Prairies) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Over the past 35 years, Don has devoted his life to serving vulnerable newcomers, facilitating their settlement and integration and empowering them to become contributing members of Canadian society. In 1980, he began assisting refugees from Vietnam. From 1986 to the early 1990s, he focused on helping refugees from Central America. Later, he assisted refugees from Iran and Peru. In recent years, he has dedicated much effort to serving low-income immigrants and newcomer professionals. Don has generously opened not only his arms and pockets but also his home, his heart and his life.

Between 1979 and 1981, Canada opened its doors to 50 000 Vietnamese refugees, and Calgary was among the major cities in which they came to settle. These newcomers faced insurmountable difficulties in their resettlement as they struggled with language, cultural, social and financial barriers. The resettlement and integration of the vulnerable refugee population was identified by the Government as a priority. Don responded to this need by collaborating with a community church and the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society to offer tangible assistance to Vietnamese refugees, and subsequently to refugees from other countries as well. Don became one of the earliest community hosts in Calgary and dedicated much energy and countless hours to teaching English, helping refugees find employment, hosting social gatherings at the reception centre and at his own house to help newcomers build connections, as well as training other community volunteers. Don selflessly opened his own home to accommodate refugee claimants until they had completed basic English training and found jobs. He also went above and beyond to sponsor some of the refugees’ family members to facilitate their reunion in Canada.

Don has created positive social change through strengthening the Calgary community, making it more inclusive, cohesive, supportive and resilient. Don retired, yet he is still serving his community untiringly and passionately.

Marilyn Lenzen - British Columbia and the North

  • Photograph 7: Marilyn Lenzen

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Marilyn Lenzen, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Community Leader (British Columbia and the North) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Marilyn has been actively engaged in the leadership and governance of the Multiple Sclerosis Society in British Columbia and in the rest of Canada over the past 13 years. Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, Marilyn set out to fight back and become a champion of the cause.

Marilyn consistently contributes hundreds of volunteer hours annually through a variety of leadership, fundraising and governance roles. She raises awareness of the disease, contributes toward advancement of research and the establishment of self-help support groups and client services, and provides public education to families affected by the disease.

At a community level, Marilyn also mobilizes thousands of volunteers, fundraisers and donors to support the cause, raising millions of dollars over her tenure. At a public level, her story has raised significant awareness of the disease and is credited for inspiring government to approve many new treatments for the disease and provide improved quality of MS care, supports and services.

As spokesperson for the advancement of MS research in British Columbia, she has brought hope to thousands of families who seek the promise of new treatments and a cure in the offering. Her work in developing the nationwide volunteer engagement strategy will have far-reaching benefits in future years as the organization doubles its efforts to welcome a new generation of volunteers and retains a large volunteer base that currently surpasses 14,000 people. Marilyn is also currently chairing the British Columbia & Yukon Boundary Review Task Force, a group leading the process to ensure that every person with MS in British Columbia and Yukon has the best possible access to critically important programs and services provided by the Society.

Marilyn overcame and continues to overcome challenges. Marilyn has surmounted great obstacles resourcing on her personal strength to survive. As a positive role model, she leads by example to illustrate the importance of self-empowerment to manage the disease, adopt healthy living strategies and become effective self-advocates. As a governance leader of the organization, she engages active participation of the Board, staff and committees to communicate a compelling vision and commitment to service excellence. She is extremely effective in sharing her story with individuals affected by the disease and motivates participation in the MS cause and membership within the organization.

Business Leader

Exit Realty Inter Lake - Atlantic

  • Photograph 8: Exit Reality Inter Lake

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Jon Walker and Mark Seamone, accepting on behalf of Exit Realty Inter Lake, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Business Leader (Atlantic) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

In 1983, Exit Realty Inter Lake started as a small operation selling land and cottages outside Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. With a desire to give back to the community, Jon, Mark and their staff have contributed, in large part, to the success of Habitat for Humanity in the area and supported numerous other charitable events and organizations, often in a quiet and unassuming way.

Jon Walker, owner, is a true leader for community engagement. Since 2005 Exit Realty Inter Lake has been the major partner with Habitat South Shore. The Company in addition to organizing the fund raising event provides space and lunch for fundraising meetings. Over the past 10 years, Exit Realty Inter Lake enlisted the help of their clients, friends, business associates and other Exit franchises to participate in 7 golf tournaments, 4 gala dinners that included several auctions to fundraise for Habitat South Shore. Jon and his staff also volunteer on site during Adopt-A-Days and support other community events. Over time, their contributions have resulted in excess of $240,000 (including this years’ event) towards four builds in three communities.

Exit’s financial support has helped to fund several constructions of new homes in the towns of Mahone Bay, Liverpool and Bridgewater. Their multi year financial support has led to a significant social impact. They have touched the lives of 19 individuals in need of housing, including 12 children, 2 of them autistic, for whom home ownership became possible due to the efforts of Habitat South Shore and the support of Exit Reality Inter Lake. The towns the homes were built in also benefit. Exit Realty Inter Lake is a true role model to other companies and leads by example in their community.

Royal LePage - Ontario

  • Photograph 9: Royal LePage

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Shanan Spencer-Brown, accepting on behalf of Royal LePage, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Business Leader (Ontario) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Royal LePage is a real estate company with 600 independent locations across Canada. The company believes that philanthropy is more than just writing a cheque. Since the establishment of the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation in 1998, they have been supporting charities that help women and children fleeing domestic violence, embedding a philanthropic culture within their network, engaging brokers and owners to support women’s shelters within their own communities.

Since 1998, more than $22 million was raised for the Foundation to help abused women and their children. One hundred percent of the funds raised go directly to the cause.

Royal LePagers are true leaders when it comes to community engagement. They leverage their personal and professional networks to raise funds, to improve awareness of services available to survivors of domestic violence, and to inform donors of the issue whose ongoing support helps create sustainable change.

They also volunteer their time and expertise to serve in diverse capacities, from cooking meals for families in shelters, sorting donations and setting up for annual holiday parties to organizing the annual National Garage Sale for Shelter, the largest charity garage sale in Canada.

Nationally, Royal LePage's contributions benefit approximately 30 000 women and children annually. The company’s steady donations allow 200 shelters to address their highest priority needs, such as facility renovations, training, job placement and counselling for women and children to help break the cycle of domestic violence.

Royal LePage is helping to build awareness of an issue that is often hidden behind closed doors, and of the possibility for healing and new beginnings; thus fostering healthier families and strengthening communities.

Landrex Inc. - Prairies

  • Photograph 10: Landrex Inc.

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Ryan Andrews, accepting on behalf of Landrex Inc., with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Business Leader (Prairies) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

As a company, Landrex continues to build their vision of being a charitable corporate citizen through giving back to their community.

For the past 25 years Landrex has been dedicated to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Edmonton by supporting them with an annual fundraising golf tournament, a Dream Home lottery, and countless volunteer hours from our dedicated and amazing staff. From board responsibilities and financial donations to mentorship and engaging other companies, Landrex mobilizes their staff, friends and contacts to champion the cause of underprivileged children in the greater Edmonton area. Landrex is continually inspired by the children we work with through Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and have met their commitments through good times and bad.

Because of the support Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Edmonton receive, they are able to provide safe places, clothing, meals and positive relationships for 5000 children.

Children’s sports programs are also dear to Landrex’s heart and it has supported many children’s hockey, lacrosse, basketball and other sport teams. Landrex is also very proud to sponsor the Landrex Distinguished Professorship and Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta. The Peter Loughheed Leadership College provides formal leadership education through a mentoring and training experience that will attract, retain and inspire Alberta’s future leaders. Landrex's has taken a leadership role in identifying the need to promote university-community relations, engage young people in the work force, and develop a deeper understanding of First Nations history and language through the Landrex Distinguished Professorship Award. Students transitioning from graduation into the workplace have benefited from Professor Harvey Krahn's research on the relationship between post-secondary education and employment outcomes. Professor Sally Rice was able to further her work with Aboriginal communities, developing a certificate program at the Canadian Indigenous Languages and Literacy Development Institute and integrating speakers of First Nations languages into academic life at the University of Alberta. Landrex's funding of Professor Rice's research has helped to revitalize and sustain Canada's Indigenous languages. Professor Jack Ives, who currently holds the professorship, has been able to recover valuable information about the deepest First Nations past in western Canada, extending to the end of the Ice Age more than 13,000 years ago. Funding from Landrex has helped Professor Ives in facilitating contact with collectors and maintaining high calibre databases, providing us with a clearer picture of the history of our nation.

Landrex truly believes that responsibility follows inseparably from success, and has had the great fortune of building its business alongside great partners.

InnVentures Hospitality Corp. - British Columbia and the North

  • Photograph 11: InnVentures Hospitality Corp

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Jon Zwickel, accepting on behalf of InnVentures Hospitality Corp., with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Business Leader (BC & the North) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Jon Zwickel of InnVentures Hospitality Corp. is the driving force that transformed Skwachàys Lodge into Canada’s first Aboriginal arts and culture boutique hotel. The boutique hotel is a social enterprise owned by the Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), which provides safe, transitional and affordable housing for Vancouver’s urban Aboriginal community. The Lodge supports community employment through the artist-in-residence program, which offers residents free studio space to practice their craft and a gallery to sell their artworks.

Recognizing the disconnection between the hotel experience and the cultural richness of the residents, Jon volunteered to redesign Skwachàys Lodge to showcase the art and heritage of the community to address homelessness and the welfare system.

Drawing from extensive industry experience, Jon worked pro bono, leading a team of industry colleagues over two years. He enlisted the help of numerous professionals, including those in media relations, hotel operations and dozens of industry suppliers, all as volunteers. Jon also collected donations of goods, services and cash valued at over $500,000. In the process, Jon facilitated new creative and business relationships, making connections between Aboriginal artists and local designers, allowing them to share their work with a broader audience. This project has repositioned and elevated the Lodge and gallery to a world-class boutique hotel and a cultural destination.

Jon’s vision and expertise made the Lodge a self-sustaining social enterprise and cultural landmark that celebrates Aboriginal art, tradition and community. InnVentures’ contribution has helped the VNHS residence to achieve financial stability to confidently carry out its mandate and provide safe and affordable housing, a comprehensive workspace and financial literacy program for at-risk Aboriginal artists as well to focus on the needs of the wider urban Aboriginal community. As Canada’s first authentic Aboriginal hotel, Skwachàys has also positively impacted Vancouver’s reputation as a cultural vacation destination by offering guests the opportunity to experience and celebrate authentic Aboriginal arts and culture.

Social Innovator

Stella’s Circle - Atlantic

  • Photograph 12: Stell'a Circle

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Lisa Browne, accepting on behalf of Stella’s Circle, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovator (Atlantic) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Stella's Circle is recognized nationally for their innovative and responsive approaches in the fields of affordable housing, mental health, and employment. Stella’s Circle offers services to people in Newfoundland and Labrador who face many barriers to fully participating in their community. These barriers can include: mental health issues; addictions; poverty; criminal justice background; homelessness; low literacy; and periods of unemployment. While the organization began 70 years ago as a residence for rural women, it evolved into a multi-faceted organization with 125 employees providing support to 1,000 individuals annually. Stella's Circle’s success is attributed to its ability to listen to what participants needed and designed its services to meet that need.

Through three streams of services, Stella’s Circle provides assistance to find affordable housing, counselling services to help achieve self-reliance, and employment services that result in a social return on investment of $1.77 for every dollar spent. Stella’s Circle witnesses the transformation of client’s lives on a daily basis. To provide safe homes, the organization holds a portfolio of 76 housing units and partners with 35 landlords. In 2014 alone, the organization helped 120 individuals secure employment, thereby reducing the need for services from the judicial, medical and social systems while improving participants' quality of life.

The organization’s social enterprise ventures—including the Hungry Heart Café; Clean start, a cleaning and trades-helper business, and CanDo Enterprises, a temporary employment service provider—provide alternative sources of revenue while servicing their clients’ needs.

In addition to leadership roles in numerous community-based boards and as a founding member of End Homelessness St. John’s, Stella’s Circle provides inspiration and action to shape and implement the community’s plan to prevent and end homelessness across Newfoundland and Labrador. The organization engages the community and has been recognized provincially and nationally for its longstanding success using a multidisciplinary approach to the provision of services to a population overcoming challenges to transform their lives.

Service d'entraide de Breakeyville - Quebec

  • Photograph 13: Service d'entraide de Breakeyville

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Caroline Parent, accepting on behalf of Service d’entraide de Breakeyville, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovator (Québec) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Created in 1987, the Service d'entraide de Breakeyville (SEB) has a social mission focused on eradicating poverty and providing home support for seniors and people with decreasing independence. To meet users’ needs, it relies on volunteers and mutual support. The volunteer respite program began in 2011 thanks to a grant from the Quebec government’s Soutien aux initiatives visant le respect des aînés program. With a 36-month grant, they were able to create and test the volunteer respite service for caregivers.

The SEB makes a difference in its community in many ways. 294 caregiver members in Lévis and Saint-Lambert-de-Lauzon have registered to receive several types of services specifically designed to meet the needs of caregivers: psychosocial support, information activities and training. In 2014–2015, 2,802 volunteer hours were invested in families; 934 respite periods were provided and 68 caregivers benefited from this service. The organization is a model for volunteer respite care in the region, since many organizations in other regions talk about its program and ask for information on how to manage this type of organization.

The valuable support provided by the Service d'entraide de Breakeyville and the services it provides, whether it be volunteer respite service or moral support, give caregivers peace of mind and allow them to take time for themselves. They are less tired and feel less alone. This support means a better quality of life for both the caregivers and for the people who are losing their independence, and has become essential in Lévis.

Startup Canada - Ontario

  • Photograph 14: Startup Canada

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Cyprian Szalankiewicz and Victoria Lennox, accepting on behalf of Startup Canada, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovator (Ontario) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

In 2012, Startup Canada launched with a 40-stop national tour to crowd-source its mandate, bringing together more than 20,000 Canadians in the largest consultation of entrepreneurs in Canadian history. Startup Canada is a grassroots, entrepreneur-led movement that brings together, celebrates and gives a voice to Canada's entrepreneurship community through collaborative economic development programs and initiatives that increase entrepreneurial momentum, job creation and prosperity in Canada.

Startup Canada's impact has reached more than 300 volunteers, 500 enterprise support organizations, 100,000 entrepreneurs, 20 startup communities, 25 major companies, 10 Federal Government departments and entrepreneurial leaders and decision makers in more than 25 countries. As a propelling force of the entrepreneurship community in Canada, Startup Canada has been a catalyst at the level of the individual as well as an inspiring model for ecosystems in Chile, Australia and elsewhere. At the individual level, Startup Canada empowers its volunteers to gain skills and increase their network, while adding value to the movement. Startup Canada has engaged hundreds of volunteers, community support organizations, government officials, and private industry to deliver innovative educational programming across the country. Their volunteer work has opened many doors for Inuit Canada as well as other corporate partners such as TELUS, UPS and Microsoft.

In Canada, there are 50 communities wishing to join the Startup Communities Program, with Waterloo, Charlottetown, Toronto and Halifax most recently being approved as official Startup Canada Communities. Startup Canada has built an inspiring vision for Canada to ensure our country becomes an entrepreneurial powerhouse, and they understand that collaboration among the private and public sectors is the best way forward. Their volunteer work has opened many doors for Inuit Canada as well as other corporate partners.

Habitat for Humanity on the Border Lloydminster Society - Prairies

  • Photograph 15: Habitat for Humanity

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Vivian Pengelly, accepting on behalf of Habitat for Humanity On The Border Lloydminster Society, with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovator (Prairies) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Recognizing the dire need for housing solutions for First Nation communities, Habitat for Humanity (HFH) first addressed the community’s challenge with the introduction of the Aboriginal Housing Program in 2007. Most recently, HFH Lloydminster and the Flying Dust First Nation (FDFN), a Cree First Nation band government near Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, formed a partnership that initiated the first-ever on-reserve Habitat build to meet their Elders’ immediate needs.

Appropriate housing for all ages and family types is necessary to encourage the passing of teachings and traditions within and between families on reserve. The historic partnership broke ground in May 2015 for the first on-reserve build of a 10-unit Elders Lodge. This is a critical stepping stone to improved housing for Canada’s First Nation communities.

At the community level, the partnership ensured open lines of communication and mutual understanding. The logistics required much coordination between partners as well. Elders provided input on the design of the Lodge, and the Flying Dust First Nation community came together to contribute the required 5 000 hours of volunteer labour. They have also enlisted the help of HFH Edmonton, HFH Lloydminster, HFH Meadow Lake and businesses that provided storage room for supplies, sent employees to volunteer on site and sponsored lunches for volunteers.

As FDFN Chief Gladue noted, it is not just a house that was made; it meets the immediate needs and providing opportunities for young families to own a home. The FDFN youth were able to access training/skills in construction. In addition, the community became knowledgeable in the management and maintenance of homes. In the process, volunteerism brought the community out and boosted their collective pride.

With their Adopt a Home Program, HFH Lloydminster is now assisting other reserves to participate in HFH projects. Through innovation and dedication, HFH Lloydminster is a champion for safe, affordable housing for all, Aboriginal communities included.

Vancouver Island Providence Community Association - British Columbia and the North

  • Photograph 16: Vancouver Island Providence Community Association

    In the photo: The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos presents Chris Holt, accepting on behalf of Vancouver Island Providence Community Association (VIPCA), with Canada’s Volunteer Award for Social Innovator (BC & the North) on June 9, 2016, at a ceremony in Ottawa.

For over 35 years, the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association (VIPCA) has been serving the needs and fostering the talents in the Cowichan Valley of those not easily accepted elsewhere through therapeutic programming at Providence Farm. Founded on the basis of horticultural therapy with the concept of linking body and spirit through nurturing the soil, the Farm offers creative and innovative programs to address social challenges of adults and seniors with mental health issues, brain injuries and developmental disabilities and challenges.

These programs offer a safe, inclusive and friendly environment where individuals are treated with dignity and respect; where participants become part of an accepting and life-giving community.

Alongside volunteers and staff, participants learn to take care of the Farm, making friends and meaningful connections. Vocational training is provided; culinary skills and healthy eating are taught. Horticultural therapy and agricultural interns and visiting professionals spend time learning about the programs by being part of the team.

Providence offers a homelike environment for seniors; a place to purchase organic produce and farm-made items; a teaching facility for the Vancouver Island University Culinary Arts Program, as well as a site to host courses/workshops, events and performances. More than a therapeutic facility, Providence is an important rural community centre for Cowichan Valley. Its success is evidenced through improved health and nutrition, life skills, friendships and a sense of well-being made possible at the Farm.

VIPCA works closely with on-site partner organizations. They present fundraising events and generate revenue through their expanding social enterprises. In addition to selling farm products, they offer workshops and seminars; contract services to provincial agencies and families; and rent facilities for community/family events and garden plots for personal access. These activities contribute to the growing reputation of the Valley for quality agricultural produce and culinary ingredients, encouraging tourism and further building a sense of community for the Valley and the people who live there.

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