Recipients of the 2017 Canada’s Volunteer Awards
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Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award
For over 23 years, Tim Nusse has been coaching the Valemount Secondary School Senior Girls Basketball team. The Valemount rural municipality is located in east central British Columbia, close to Kamloops.
It started with a small group of girls knocking on his door, asking him to coach them. From then on, he has continued running the program. Tim empowered girls to prove that basketball was not only for boys, and that girls could be athletes too. Through his impressive coaching, Tim increased the number of girls teams competing in “single A” Provincials from 8 to 16 teams by 2010.
Not only does Tim provide amazing basketball coaching but he has also made the program about life skills and mental health. Many “graduates” of Tim’s basketball program have commented that they use Tim’s teachings in post‑secondary school or the workplace, or to raise their own children. He has used basketball coaching as an opportunity to build character and teach self-confidence, strategic thinking and a strong work ethic.
In 2006, thanks to Tim’s community leadership and major fundraising efforts, a new high school was built, including a community theatre and a gymnasium. The community is now able to host tournaments and music performances. In a small, rural and remote community with not many options of things to do for today’s youth, Tim keeps kids engaged and off the streets.
In addition to volunteering countless hours for practices and out-of-town weekend tournaments, he puts his business on hold during the five-month basketball season. He has also mentored, inspired and assisted other coaches to build basketball programs in their small northern communities.
Not wanting to leave anyone out, Tim has taken every girl that wants to play and spent the extra time to develop their skills. He even financially helps kids that do not have the means to get what they need to be able to play. Every year, Tim talks about retiring and every year a new batch of kids come up that he cannot imagine leaving behind. A four-year-old asked him just last year if he would coach her when she was older. His answer was
“If you can push my wheelchair around, I sure will!”
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Pierre Latraverse - Quebec
Pierre Latraverse had a special fondness for the Lac Saint-Pierre Archipelago. He was a champion of its environment, and his determination to preserve it for future generations led him to volunteer his time and energy on behalf of various organizations for more than 25 years. After retiring from a brilliant career in college education, he became involved in a wide variety of activities related to various aspects of environmental and wildlife protection—a complex field replete with political and social challenges. Mr. Latraverse was mostly involved as a member of the board of directors of the Association des Chasseurs et Pêcheurs de Sainte-Anne-de-Sorel and went on to become its chair. While serving in that capacity, he worked with various organizations on local, provincial and national issues such as the protection and development of wildlife sites, as well as environmental planning and coordination.
He was also a volunteer member of the Canadian Wildlife Federation from 2008 to 2017. During that time, he made a significant contribution to the organization’s work by making his expertise in the field of conservation in Quebec available at the national level and by acting as a catalyst to promote and support national conservation and education initiatives in Quebec. He not only played an important role in focusing national attention on regional issues, but he also championed national initiatives in Quebec that had a direct impact on conservation and youth education in communities across the province. Mr. Latraverse leaves behind a rich and flourishing legacy that has gone a long way towards consolidating the position and the leadership of wildlife organizations.
Mr. Latraverse passed away following an accident in August 2017. This award is being presented to him posthumously.
Deborah Morrow - British Columbia and the North
For over 35 years, Deborah Morrow has dedicated her time to volunteering for programs to benefit a diverse population of youth and homeless Canadian veterans. She was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease years ago, yet despite the mobility limitations it imposes, she will not let it slow her volunteer work.
After learning about the plight of veteran homelessness in Canada, she became a champion of their cause. Deborah began a free nurses' clinic to provide health care and screening to homeless veterans on the West Coast. Using her own resources and influence in the community as a leader in the health care business, Deborah developed long-term partnerships which brought organizations and individuals, such as The Royal Canadian Legion/BC Yukon Command and Veterans Affairs, together to help struggling veterans with much-needed resources such as housing, health care, addictions support and support for post-traumatic stress disorder. Her health care service delivery model mobilizes health care professionals to provide care to homeless veterans where they live. She also raised awareness of this problem by speaking publicly, reaching thousands of people in British Columbia. During the war in Afghanistan, Deborah organized her quilting group and Sea Cadet Corps to make quilts and care packages for Canadian soldiers overseas. Deborah also volunteers as Camp Nurse at Navy League summer camp.
Deborah volunteers and mentors youth in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Challenge, the Youth NATO Summit global conference and the Navy League of Canada, including the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet and Navy League Cadet programs. Working with local youth for over 20 years, she uses her considerable video and photojournalism skills on television, her own YouTube channel, print media in both newspapers and magazines across Canada and in social media. Using media, Deborah promotes the involvement of youth from communities across the province to develop essential life skills and to highlight stories of youth who struggle. She brought in the Ministry of Education as a partner to help cadets gain high school credits through their work experiences in the Sea Cadet program. Deborah began a Coast Guard Youth Search and Rescue Boot Camp which was created through a partnership which she facilitated between the Canadian Coast Guard and the Ministry of Education.
The Laura Milner White Committee (Sheila Milner) - Prairies
The Laura Milner White Committee (LMWC) was inspired by the life, work and commitment of Laura Milner White, who was determined to give back to the community. In 2000, Laura became a mentor to a single father and unofficial big sister to two of his young daughters. She became interested in the children's education, getting involved at their school and having a very positive impact on their lives. Sadly, Laura was taken too soon by cancer in August 2005, and her husband, mother and some friends were inspired to start the LMWC in her memory later that year.
Today, the LMWC consists of long-term organizing members and numerous volunteers who give their time in Winnipeg schools on a regular basis and work extensively to develop and run extracurricular programs. Inspired by Laura’s commitment to others, family and friends also established an endowment fund at The Winnipeg Foundation. The LMWC raises money to fund projects in all areas of everyday life for students in Winnipeg's inner city. In the past 10 years, more than $700,000 has been raised and directed towards ongoing programs and the development of new programs.
Programs supported and created by the LMWC include but are not limited to: sending children to summer and winter camps; development of a green space for an inner city high school; a 46-team inner city soccer league; art festivals; purchasing school equipment such as iPads, Smart boards, fitness equipment, musical instruments, career fairs, art supplies, sporting equipment and uniforms for basketball, soccer and hockey teams; food to support school nutritional programs; outdoor playground structure; book drives; and the very successful Gowns for Grads program.
Laura Milner White's commitment to the idea of volunteerism remains an important focus of the LMWC's work. Laura's work has already inspired a number of individuals to volunteer and continue to come up with creative ways to encourage more involvement by community members.
Li Yuan Ma - Atlantic
Since she moved to Canada 10 years ago, Li Yuan Ma has been a volunteer for many associations and organizations. For example, she volunteers at the Prince Edward Island Association for Newcomers to Canada (PEIANC) as she understands the social, cultural, linguistic and emotional challenges faced by all newcomers to Canada. She is committed to help ease their integration in a new country by providing settlement services, interpretation services at walk-in clinics, hospitals and schools, and banking advice in person as well as through local Chinese-language radio and newspapers.
She volunteers for diverse community initiatives such as the Mayor Newcomers Reception, United Way Campaign, Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, Junior Achievement, Cavendish Beach Music Festival, Children’s Wish Foundation, PEI Parade, Women in business Symposium, YDay, Canadian Mental Health walk, 4H Achievement Day, PEI Junior Badminton Training Center, QEH Telethon, IWK Telethon for Children, Ronald McDonald House, Walk for Muscular Dystrophy, PEI Old Home Week, PEI Humane Society and Relay for Life, and many others.
Li Yuan was successful in getting a grant to support the annual multicultural festival, DiverseCity, which brings together new and established Islanders to celebrate diversity. She encouraged over 100 co-workers to volunteer at the festival and raised $13,000 for 2017 DiverseCity. Also, she raised over $50,000 for different charities in 2017.
A special guest speaker at the Strengthening PEI Future through Immigration conference in 2016, Li Yuan reached over 130 people from across PEI and spoke about the importance of newcomers’ inclusion and retention. The same year, she was also a guest speaker for RBC volunteers during the WE Day in Halifax.
In 2015, Li Yuan was awarded the “Diversity Award.” In 2016, she received the “Global Citizen Award” and represented Atlantic Canada over 10 days in Kenya for international volunteer work. In 2017, she has been nominated as one of the top 25 Canadian immigrants and interviewed by Canadian Immigrant magazine.
Not only has Li Yuan become a role model for newcomers moving and making a new home on PEI, but she has also educated the community at large on diversity, inclusion and engagement.
Marie-Claire Ivanski - Ontario
Following her friend being diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago, Marie-Claire Ivanski started to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF). Marie‑Claire understood that people going through cancer need to share their stories, support each other and know they are not alone.
Over five years, she and a corporate group donated $300,000 to the CBCF. When the corporate group ceased its activities, Marie-Claire created a new team, Friends for Life. With the support of over 50 volunteers including breast cancer survivors, she organized annual breakfasts, gathering over 400 guests and fundraising $275,000. Each annual breakfast honoured a survivor and her family, and educated the community on breast cancer.
For over six years, Marie-Claire has also been a member of and a spokesperson for the Russell Friends Group of Victoria’s Quilts Canada (VQC), a not-for-profit group making quilts to comfort cancer patients and delivering the quilts to them at no cost. In 2016, the Russell Friends Group delivered over 200 quilts to Ottawa head office. She alone delivered 72 quilts locally, with the Victoria’s Quilts Canada message “You are not alone.”
Not only does Marie-Claire fundraise for breast cancer but she also plays an active role in the life of cancer patients by visiting them, networking with the Food Bank to help cancer patients in financial need and simply being a friend to those in need. Hundreds of individuals in her immediate community and beyond have been touched by Marie‑Claire’s generosity and have benefitted from her selflessness, energy and positive attitude.
Marie-Claire is dedicated to the well-being of her community. She co‑chaired a fundraising campaign to construct a community sports dome. She also co‑chaired a fundraising event for the evacuees of Fort McMurray, for Jonathan Pitre’s treatments for a genetic skin disease and for local producers through the Living Locally Fair. She sits on the board of directors of the Russell District Horticulture Society. In the past 12 years she has raised over $1 million for these various causes. She rises to support each new community need by rallying supporters, educating the community, advertising innovative fundraisers and bringing businesses, media groups and politicians together to make a positive difference in the community.
Valérie Toupin-Dubé - Quebec
Valérie Toupin-Dubé took action to improve community welfare, particularly among children, youth and vulnerable groups such as low-income families and individuals with special needs. It all began when she identified a lack of awareness of issues such as food security, agriculture and nutrition both locally and regionally.
In 2012, while she was a student at McGill University, she started volunteering with the Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden. This is a community-supported initiative, which serves as a space for students to learn about agricultural production and to supply sustainable fruits and vegetables to the West-Island community of Montreal and McGill students. During that time, she co-founded the McGill Global Food Security Club, the Out of the Garden Project Café, and the Farm-to-School Project to increase knowledge around local food and responsible procurement. This project has allowed numerous young people to gain a better comprehension of where their food comes from and the implications of growing food in a northern climate, like Quebec (Canada). During her last year at university, she was responsible for the finances of the Macdonald Campus Student Society, as Vice-President.
Following her graduation in 2016, Valérie spearheaded the transitioning of the Farm-to-School project from a student club to an independent nonprofit: École-O-Champ Québec/Farm to School Quebec. Over the past year, she has led the organization’s rapid growth. Today, they work with over 20 schools and numerous farms across Quebec. Farm to School Québec offers educational summer camps and various outreach initiatives, in addition to programs that include agriculture, environment and nutrition literacy as part of the elementary and high school science and history curriculum, meeting Ministry of Education required competencies.
For two years, in addition to working with École-O-Champ Québec, she also served as Director of Corbeille de Pain, a charitable organization that supports West Island communities in Montreal with food security, to create more access towards community kitchens and nutrition seminar programs. Through her involvement with Corbeille de Pain and collaboration with partners, she provided hundreds of vulnerable individuals, including young families and refugees, a basic level of food security.
Akuechbeny Kuol - British Columbia and the North
In 2013, Akuechbeny Kuol came to Canada from South Sudan via a refugee camp in Kenya. He was selected by the World University Service Canada Student Refugee Program, which chooses the brightest students from refugee situations to come to Canadian universities.
In 2014, Akuechbeny began his studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and immediately got involved with the Student Refugee Program at the school. He quickly persuaded UBC leaders that the most sustainable way to ensure support for all refugee students would be an expansion and strengthening of the Program. He helped initiate a referendum that doubled the student fee levied on students, and thereby doubled the number of refugee students from four to eight. As a result, UBC currently has the largest Student Refugee Program in the country.
Akuechbeny also advocated for a stronger contribution by the university to students coming through the Program, including having UBC hire a full-time staff member to support refugees. Through these changes, current and future student refugees will have enough support to potentially graduate debt-free and career-ready, transitioning easily to Canadian society.
Akuechbeny has become a father figure and role model to many newly arrived students in the Program. For the last few years, he has done everything from helping them shop for essentials, to planning their airport pick up and move in, to accompanying them to set up bank accounts, student accounts, Social Insurance Numbers and health insurance. From the very first week, refugee students get to know Akuechbeny very well, as a mentor and a friend. Many follow his example and get involved with the Student Refugee Program. He mobilizes others to action through sharing his own story of coming to Canada, as well as highlighting the amazing contributions of others to his success. He does not take his good fortune for granted, and every day gives back to the community in meaningful and lasting ways.
Poshika Dhingra - Prairies
A highly talented and dynamic leader, Poshika Dhingra volunteers her time for numerous initiatives, ranging from helping immigrant and refugee families adjust to their new home country, to running health care campaigns for seniors, reducing homelessness, working with the RCMP National Youth Advisory Committee on crime prevention and youth victimization, and leading a team of volunteers to fundraise for the victims of Fort McMurray wildfires.
In 2014, she became a volunteer with World of Welcome, a program that helps students who are new to Canada adjust to the environment of Canadian high schools. She spent an entire day with each family to help them understand how to shop for groceries and use city transit and other services.
In 2015, Poshika founded the organization For Seniors, By Juniors and ran three health-awareness campaigns on diabetes, arthritis and hypertension for elders in Canada and internationally, bringing together the Senior Citizen Association, doctors from various hospitals and city employees to support these campaigns. Over 200 seniors attended each campaign and started practicing prevention. She plans to grow her organization to better the health of elders in developing countries.
In 2016, she organized an event called Seniors’ Tea in a long-term care centre to make residents more joyful and lessen the generation gap between seniors and students. Many students involved in this event became regular weekly volunteers with the Centre.
Not only is Poshika committed to the betterment of communities in Canada and internationally, but she also builds sustainability by finding long-term solutions to social problems and by leading the positive change in organizations and the lives of individuals in need.
Mark Allison - Atlantic
Mark Allison is a symbol of hope and a role model for young amputees everywhere. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of three, Mark lost his right leg to the disease. Despite this challenge at a young age, he has risen from this tragedy to become a champion of The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) and PLAYSAFE programs, which are part of the War Amps of Canada Association.
He brings awareness to the work of the CHAMP program by being a public representative at schools, community groups and local events in order to educate the public about the life and challenges of an amputee. He also advocates for the PLAYSAFE program by spreading the life- or limb-saving message to kids about the dangers in their play environment.
As a Junior Counsellor of past Atlantic Child Amputee Seminars, Mark has touched the lives of many young amputees from across the Atlantic provinces by showing them how to live a positive life. He and his parents are also active in the Matching Mothers’ program, providing support and advice to families facing similar challenges.
To honour the memories and sacrifices of Canada's war veterans, who initially started the War Amps, Mark has fundraised at his local libraries, wrote letters to media about the importance of the legacy left by Canadian amputee war veterans and represented the association by being a public figure at commemorative events and ceremonies.
Prakash Amarasooriya - Ontario
Prakash Amarasooriya is on a mission to bring financial literacy to Ontario youth. His commitment to helping youth learn about money comes directly from his personal experience. When he was in Grade 10, both of his parents suddenly lost their jobs in the auto industry during the 2008 financial crisis. Panicked about how he, his parents and his younger brother would manage, he juggled five different part-time jobs throughout high school.
As the School Boards Lead for the Toronto Youth Cabinet, his efforts focused on drafting a proposal and petition that called on the Ministry of Education to revamp its Grade 10 curriculum to incorporate the basics of budgeting and financial literacy. Through his campaign, he engaged educators, trustees of Ontario school boards, community organizations and provincial offices to work together to make this idea a reality. Earlier this year, the Ontario Education Minister announced the rollout of a pilot project to introduce a financial literacy component in 29 schools in the province and that financial literacy will be added to the Grade 10 Careers course in September 2018 for all Ontario schools.
Prakash also volunteers as a Program Advisor for the JA Central Ontario Company program at his old high school. The in-school program provides students with the opportunity to start their own company. It involves helping teenage students find out how to manage a budget, deliver a product and work as a team. Being a mentor who is close in age allows Prakash to relate to the students in a way that teachers and older business leaders cannot.
Since the successful push for financial literacy, Prakash has become a leading advocate for financial literacy in Ontario, speaking to students and giving speeches at various conferences. His collaboration and leadership skills have set an example for the young people of the Toronto Youth Cabinet and demonstrated what is possible when young people work together for a common cause.
Lufa Farms Inc. - Quebec
Based in Montréal and founded by local entrepreneurs Mohamed Hage and Lauren Rathmell, with Kurt Lynn and Yahya Badran, Lufa Farms Inc. is a socially responsible commercial enterprise with the goal to sustainably feed cities. The business builds urban rooftop greenhouses and fosters partnerships with local farmers and food artisans to give consumers year-round access to fresh locally produced vegetables and foods through an e-commerce platform.
In 2011, the business opened the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse on top of an office building in Montréal’s Ahuntsic borough. The vegetables are grown in a computer-managed hydroponic system which filters and reuses its water, reducing resource waste to a minimum.
With its mission of growing food where people live and doing it more sustainably, Lufa Farms Inc. continues to expand and build more greenhouses, using no new land, making use of rain water, recirculating both irrigation water and nutrients, minimizing energy use, composting green waste and delivering produce to customers on the same day it’s harvested. The company has served as an example over its six years of operations to demonstrate that urban farming is a commercially viable, socially responsible and environmentally sustainable way to feed cities.
The business also works with the community by partnering with farmers and small businesses to help them make use of their online Marketplace and a network of local pick-up points for distribution. They also work hand-in-hand with communities contributing to local sustainability initiatives by reinforcing positive changes for sustainable development, sustainable agriculture and improved awareness about where food comes from.
To further engage and to give back to the community, Lufa Farms staff regularly devote time to a wide range of volunteer efforts, participating in conferences about entrepreneurship, social responsibility and sustainability, hosting regular open houses, mentoring students through on-site “externships” at the farm and supporting the annual 100-mile meal event organized by students at the McGill School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.
Green Chair Recycling Inc. - British Columbia and the North
Vancouver-based Green Chair Recycling is helping to keep waste out of landfills one event at a time. It works with its clients to create zero waste events, where 95% of event waste is recycled. Since 2011, Green Chair Recycling has recycled 13,637 bags of waste, which is equivalent to taking 72 cars off the road for a month.
Green Chair Recycling has worked with over 3,000 volunteers (many are returning) to help with its business. Its volunteer green ambassadors stand next to recycling stations at events and educate attendees about recycling waste. All waste is tracked at these events. Organizers receive a waste diversion report afterwards so they learn how they can improve next time. Attendees learn about how much of their waste is recyclable, and local residents who live near the events don’t need to worry about waste left behind. Events which benefited from this service include: New West Pride, Rock Ambleside Park, Harmony Arts Festival, TaiwanFest, Coho Festival, Columbia StrEAT Festival and Port Moody Car Free Day.
Green Chair Recycling gives back to its community through outreach, by taking part in sustainability fairs and conferences, through community cleanups and by helping other businesses set green goals. It has partnered with two large organizations, Encorp Pacific (Canada) and Vancity, to help increase awareness of recycling to a wider audience at local events.
Green Chair Recycling uses approximately 75% of its profits for educational outreach, with free presentations to schools, colleges, universities and other interested groups. Its volunteers run free educational field trips to landfill and recycling facilities to show students the reality of landfills and to learn how recycling happens in their communities.
Britton’s Your Independent Grocer - Prairies
Just under three years ago, Bill Britton took over the local grocery store in the community of Lac La Biche. Not only did Bill turn a failing business into the best franchise store in Canada, but he has engaged the Britton’s Your Independent Grocer in all local charities. From Santa’s Helpers, the Firefighters’ Society, Dance Society, Wolves Lacrosse, Kidsport, Kids Are Worth It, Hope Haven Women’s Shelter, Local and College Food Bank, the Company is actively involved in volunteer programs, sponsorships of events and organizations, and gifts to charity.
In 2016, the community was involved in two major incidents, the Lakeview Manor fire and the Fort McMurray evacuation. The latter saw over 16,000 new individuals descend upon in the Lac La Biche for a two‑month period. Britton’s Your Independent Grocer provided necessities for displaced residents, and had their staff work and volunteer extra hours to accommodate people in need. Bill also reached out to the parent corporation and encouraged the local Chamber of Commerce to contribute as well.
Bill arranged for the local hockey games be open to the public, offering Indigenous children from the neighbouring seven First Nations and four Metis Settlements, as well as all community members, free entrance. Through the Better Together initiative, the store has served over 300 meals to fundraise for a worker, a victim of an armed robbery, a community member with a terminal brain tumour, underprivileged daycare children, and many others in need.
The Company’s dedication to community improvement is all-encompassing. As such, the Company offers valuable employment opportunities to vulnerable citizens, such as those recently out of prison, on parole, discharged from detox and rehab centres and individuals escaping domestic violence. Their commitment to professionalism is embraced by every staff member. The tireless community work of Bill Britton and his team sets apart Britton’s Your Independent Grocer as one of the finest examples of a small community business.
New Brunswick Community College - Atlantic
Throughout its history, New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) has encouraged students to develop their skills through volunteer and community service projects. Developing leaders who contribute to diverse and inclusive communities in New Brunswick and around the world is an essential part of the NBCC Advantage.
In 2014, NBCC launched the Robertson Institute for Community Leadership as a Signature Learning Experience aligned with the College’s vision of “transforming lives and communities.” Through the Institute, every NBCC student participates in volunteer and service learning opportunities as part of a required course on leadership and volunteering called Support. Further courses are in development as part of the Community Leadership Certification program. These offerings will support students in deepening community connections, innovating solutions and mobilizing others.
Since 2014, students and staff have contributed over 36,000 hours to more than 675 community activities across New Brunswick during six College-wide Service Days. These meaningful hands-on projects have included metal fabrication students building instrument stands for music outreach programs; health students taking seniors’ vital signs; business students providing marketing support to a community kitchen; students in early childhood education working with early literacy programs and much more.
Not only do these activities provide valuable support to community organizations and initiatives across the province, but they have also provided students with an opportunity to develop essential skills such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving which will set them apart in their future careers and in life.
UPS™ Canada - Ontario
UPS Canada’s corporate values and expertise focus on diversity, community safety, environmental sustainability and volunteerism. Since its inception in 1951, its UPS Foundation has provided community grants to Canadian programs that have led to tangible positive impacts on the local community and natural environment.
Many charities have benefited from UPS employees’ volunteerism, partnerships and its foundation grants, including but not limited to Credit Valley Conservation, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, United Way, Youth Without Shelter, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, the IWK Foundation and The Salvation Army.
Its own UPS Global Forestry Initiative, which focuses on the protection, conservation and restoration of important natural areas and biological diversity across all regions of Canada and the engagement of employees in meaningful, hands-on stewardship, has seen over 6,200 native trees planted across Canada at 12 tree-planting events. UPS has also supported through additional funding the planting of over 18,500 native trees and shrubs in the Credit River watershed. Each of these initiatives is part of a larger goal of planting 15 million trees by 2020.
UPS encourages its employees to volunteer in the communities they live in. In 2016, its employees, families and friends volunteered over 105,000 hours. Its team of 1,500 volunteers walked at the 2016 annual Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and fundraised over $173,000. UPS Canada also raised over $1.2 million through its United Way campaign, which resulted in receiving the Thanks a Million Award for the 16th year in a row.
Le Pivot - Quebec
Established in Québec in 1982, Le Pivot is a community centre and much more. The non-profit organization’s mission is to create a living environment that fosters personal and community fulfilment based on local needs and resources. It supports and oversees initiatives by people in their community, thereby creating a place in the community where they can feel they belong.
Just like an actual “pivot,” the community centre lies at the centre of its community. Determined to make a significant, positive difference in the community, Le Pivot is a place where groups of people volunteer to develop projects together. Visited by members of all ages from 0 to 90, this non-profit organization offers programming and facilitated activities to people living in the borough of Beauport, such as sports, cultural and community workshops, public festivities and programs for disadvantaged people.
Le Pivot maintains an active presence in its community by participating in a number of inter-sectoral and public discussion tables (some of which were initiated by Le Pivot, such as the Table Azimuth Santé, Québec en Forme and the Table des aînés) that work to combat poverty and social exclusion and work on immigration, promote healthy lifestyles, offer services to seniors and more. For the past 15 years or so, the organization has expanded its social development role. Support programs have emerged in response to ever‑growing and diverse needs. Some of these activities include food distribution, the Comptoir Accèsports (which distributes free, gently used sports equipment), immigrant orientation, a referral, support and education space, community gardens, free legal assistance (a lawyer-run referral service), a volunteer income tax program and the Marchand de lunettes glasses program with an on-site optometrist.
Le Pivot is often approached by counterparts concerning its expertise and innovative initiatives and asked to participate in university research projects. It is also recognized as a model of volunteerism, especially for its volunteer policy, with 220 volunteers across its programs and activities having contributed 24,000 hours of volunteer work in 2015 alone.
Iqaluit Music Society - Iqalunninijjausijarnimut Katujjiji - British Columbia and the North
Since 1995, the Iqaluit Music Society has offered free, open-access music education opportunities to the youth of Iqaluit. The dedicated group of volunteers at the Society have found innovative ways to provide music education to hundreds of youth, to promote mental health and empower them to express themselves in a positive way. Not only has the opportunity to study music enriched the lives of young people, but it has also helped protect them from suicide, overcome personal difficulties and become more resilient.
During the summer music camps, each participant has the opportunity to study two of the following workshops: Inuit drum dancing, throat singing, accordion, fiddle, guitar, recorder, singing, band, percussion, xylophone and dance. Moreover, the programs bring elders and youth together through learning and playing traditional Inuit music. Many former participants of the programs now teach at the summer music camp in Iqaluit or have started music camps in other Nunavut communities.
The Society’s passion for providing youth with the gift of music is well-supported by individuals, local and regional businesses, territorial and federal funding. The Society has creatively used this support to provide Nunavut youth with opportunities to perform on stage at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and the Maritime Conservatory of Performing arts in Halifax, as well as has enabled southern youth to experience the music and traditions of the North.
By recognizing the benefits of exposure to music in early childhood, the Society has also expanded its reach to include music education workshops for elementary teachers and daycare workers so that they can share the experience of music with the little ones they teach.
Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society - Prairies
Since 1978, the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society has engaged citizens to volunteer countless hours in support of burn victims. They bring together community partners to raise funds for Foothills Medical Centre’s Burn Treatment Centre to help burn victims go through multiple surgeries, prolonged recovery, profound anxiety and depression. The Burn Treatment Centre ensures burn patients from southern Alberta, south-eastern British Columbia and south-western Saskatchewan receive the best care possible. To date, the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society has raised over $8 million to support burn survivors in their community.
Through their dedicated efforts, the Society has purchased rehabilitation equipment, supplied hundreds of pressure garments, sponsored the Burn Survivor Support Group and sent young survivors to the Alberta Fire Fighters Burn Camp. Every summer, approximately 70 children from across Alberta spend time with other children who have survived burns, and share the same emotional and physical scars, to help them overcome their traumatic experience.
In addition to that, the Society has funded world-class skin regeneration research at the University of Calgary. They also helped Foothills Medical Centre staff attend medical conferences and deepen their knowledge of burn victims’ issues. Through strong partnerships with donors and community engagement, they have supported the Burn Treatment Centre in improving the lives of thousands of burn victims and in helping ease their recovery.
Metro Non-Profit Housing Association - Atlantic
Since 1988, the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association of Halifax has been assisting individuals who have been homeless or who are at risk of being homeless to either create or maintain their homes. The Association supports the Halifax Regional Municipality with a variety of innovative approaches as one of the first non-custodial supported housing groups in the area. It now has 78 units of social housing providing sustainable homes for 83 individuals. In addition, it offers some tenants employment and a voice to participate in the management of buildings.
Since 1997, the innovative initiative Housing Support Centre has welcomed approximately 100 people on most weekday mornings, and enabled participants to engage with the Community Support Team to access individual support, referrals and access to community resources, as well as offer each other social and peer support. Housing Support Workers also assisted individuals and families in going from homelessness to being housed. They help health care workers find placements for patients being discharged from hospitals and addiction treatment services. In 2015, there were over 500 interventions offering support services to homeless and at-risk individuals with addictions and mental health issues, tenancy concerns and eviction prevention needs.
The Association also offers the Halifax Housing Help and the Dartmouth Housing Help initiatives in an effort to provide housing placements and supportive housing, and to help individuals and families in eviction prevention. These initiatives are supported by the Association’s Trustee Services program, which aims to improve the self-sufficiency and housing stability of homeless, at-risk individuals through individualized services.
The Association also provides a voice to low-income individuals who are at-risk of homelessness through the Shining Lights Choir initiative. Participating members gain a sense of purpose, belonging, self-esteem and social support. The choir has performed at hundreds of venues and has been featured on radio, on television, online and in print which in turn has served to increase public awareness about homelessness and poverty.
Parkdale Food Centre - Ontario
In Ottawa’s Hintonburg Mechanicsville area, 22% of residents live with low income, about twice the city’s average for neighbourhoods. In the midst of this community, the Parkdale Food Centre (PFC) has shifted mindsets and revolutionized the way food banks operate, moving away from a traditional charitable model to one built on community engagement. It is the first food bank in Canada to be co-located in the same building with a health centre, recognizing the role of food security in health promotion and the need to integrate services to better meet community needs.
The PFC’s food bank serves over 750 individuals each month. Over the past three years, it has provided food for over 13% of the households in the neighbourhood. In addition to the food bank, the PFC offers weekly cooking classes in their community kitchen, drop-in lunches, monthly community meals and a community fridge, and operates two social enterprise programs for youth. The PFC also assists families who are moving out of shelters, educates neighbours on nutrition, health and self-advocacy, and empowers them to become more resilient.
Through its programs, the PFC works to remove barriers between neighbours, creating opportunities for many to improve their skills. Many clients who have become dedicated volunteers have gained employment from local businesses. In a short time, the volunteer base has grown from 40 to over 120. In 2016, over 15 groups from local companies and government departments volunteered and engaged in team building by cooking soups and stews, as part of the Fill-the-Freezer initiative.
The PFC has become a role model in the community. Its positive environment has inspired other food banks to move away from a band-aid solution to food security. Over 45 local businesses, local social services and not-for-profit organizations are now engaged in the PFC’s work, creating an integrated response to community needs.
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