2023 Canada’s Volunteer Awards Recipients

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National award

Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement award

Rahul Singh

Rahul Singh has been volunteering in Ontario for over 25 years. He founded the David McAntony Gibson Foundation, known as GlobalMedic, in 1999 to honor his late friend. Rahul combines his emergency frontline experience with humanitarian work, providing efficient disaster relief operations. Under his leadership, his charity has gained recognition for its cost-effective approach using skilled volunteers to maximize aid delivery.

Rahul has overseen over 249 missions in 82 countries, aiding more than 4.5 million individuals. The organization's strategy is to engage diverse sectors for effective disaster response, as seen during the floods in British Columbia. Rahul collaborated with corporations for resource and logistics support, teamed up with local businesses to provide laundry services, and organized volunteers for kit assembly and distribution.

Rahul Singh seeks to improve operational efficiency in various sectors.

  • He collaborated with a Canadian water filter company to re-engineer their product and reduce costs.
  • He initiated a program using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for more effective aid delivery in disaster-stricken areas through precise mapping. This UAV project has received international acclaim for impacting the relief sector.
  • Rahul led the installation of a vertical farm within the GlobalMedic facility. This project increased the availability of fresh produce for local food banks.

Rahul’s leadership approach offers immediate disaster relief and empowers communities to promote sustainable practices.

Special Mention

Loren Slye

Loren Slye has dedicated over 50 years to volunteering in community services. His efforts changed various sectors, including youth anti-drug initiatives, boating safety, and fire and life safety education. He transformed fire training for rural Indigenous communities, mentoring youth and leaders alike.

Loren's volunteer efforts extend to developing and distributing a comprehensive training Fire and Life Safety program across provinces to help and engage youth. This program was integrated into Ontario's education system. It decreased risky behaviors and improved academic performance among high school students.

Loren Slye also works with groups like the National Fire Prevention Association and local fire departments. Through this effort, Loren's "Plan to Get Out Alive" program reached millions of people. His efforts in training across Canada advanced public safety and inspired communities to take part in their safety education.

Loren's vision and dedication have made him a respected mentor in life safety and injury prevention.

Mary Walters

Mary Walters has been a vital contributor to her Saskatchewan community for over 58 years. Mary’s volunteer service includes being:

  • a Medical First Responder
  • an instructor and instructor trainer
  • a member of the Emergency Response Unit
  • a St. John Ambulance Board member

Mary's leadership and volunteer service have earned her the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Medal, the St. John Ambulance Ultra Long Service Medal, and the Saskatchewan Volunteer Medal and the Dame of Grace in the Order of St. John.

Mary has been a leader in first aid instruction for over 30 years. She has been instrumental in training new educators and volunteers. She continues to expand the network of first aid knowledge in her community.

Mary's path was challenging during the 1960s and 1970s when few women were involved in medical first aid. Her perseverance in overcoming gender barriers and balancing family life with volunteering has been exemplary.

Renowned for her expertise in first aid, Mary is a central figure in her community. She inspired many people through her dedication to teaching life-saving skills.

Regional Award

Business Leader

Ontario: Humble Beginning Stories

Humble Beginning Stories (HBS) was founded by Edward Anassah to share stories of small business owners, social entrepreneurs, street vendors, and community leaders. HBS is about inspiring people to follow their dreams and showing how people with diverse backgrounds can succeed.

Here's what HBS does:

  • offers a space where young people, especially from equity-deserving backgrounds, can grow their ideas and skills
  • shares stories from diverse groups like First Nations, LGBTQ+, visible minorities and people with disabilities, making everyone feel included
  • connects entrepreneurs with each other and with helpful resources, especially during hard times like the COVID-19 pandemic
  • works with groups that focus on sustainable fashion and being kind to the environment

HBS helps many people including small business owners, social entrepreneurs, and young people to start their own initiatives. By bringing people together, HBS has created a community that supports and learns from each other.

HBS inspires others to chase their goals. It shares the importance of working together and supporting each other, no matter what challenges come.

Prairies: Automated Aquatics Canada Ltd

Automated Aquatics Canada founded in 1985 is located in Edmonton, Alberta. The business supports multiple not-for-profit and charitable organisations through their charitable activities. Automated Aquatics donates over $68,000 each year to support organizations such as:

  • Boys & Girls Big Brothers Big Sisters of Edmonton and Area
  • Camp He Ho Ha
  • Santas Anonymous
  • CleanScene
  • Royal Canadian Humane Association

Automated Aquatics use most of their time and resources to support organizations that are improving the lives of children, youth, and families.

Community Leader

Atlantic: Angela Woodford

Angela Woodford volunteered for nearly 60 years in many capacities throughout her community in Harbour Main, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Her volunteer efforts included:

  • chairing fundraising initiatives
  • serving as a member and chair of the parish council
  • coordinating recreational and event activities for both senior and youth groups
  • managing the parish food bank

Angela has been part of a Bereavement Committee and helped grieving families plan funeral services. She has been a key member in organizing the town's youth summer job program for over 20 years. She has also helped students gain work experience and earn income within their home communities. Angela provided care for adults living with physical and mental challenges and plays a key role in organizing weekly activities for seniors.

Angela is always ready to lend a hand and inspires others to engage and contribute their best.

Quebec: Dr. Daphnée Veilleux-Lemieux

Dr. Daphnée Veilleux-Lemieux, Director of the Université Laval Veterinarian Services and a veterinarian, joined Chiots Nordiques in 2012. She helped address challenges with dog overpopulation in Indigenous communities in Quebec and helped improve access to veterinary care in remote communities.

Dr. Veilleux-Lemieux established mobile sterilization clinics to treat dogs and help control population growth. Since 2018, she led Chiots Nordiques and expanded the program through partnerships with Indigenous communities and animal protection organizations. She also created educational programs to teach children about canine behavior.

Her work has improved access to veterinary care in remote areas, strengthened public health and formed relationships for reconciliation with some Indigenous communities.

Dr. Veilleux-Lemieux’s leadership and commitment has inspired professionals and volunteers. Her efforts improved the lives of people and animals in Indigenous communities.

Ontario: Jill Kearney

Jill Kearney was Vice-President of the International Dyslexia Association of Ontario (IDA Ontario) from 2016 to 2022, a group that helps and speaks up for people with dyslexia.

Jill built an online training course and organized webinars and workshops for parents and teachers to learn how to support students with dyslexia and how to best teach reading for all students.

In her role with IDA Ontario, Jill wrote a report to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s “Right to Read” enquiry. The report proposed improvements on teaching methods for students, including those with dyslexia, who are learning to read and write. It also presented approaches to identify and support students with dyslexia in the classroom.

Jill's dedication led to increased dyslexia awareness and improved instruction and support for the Ontario students who are affected by dyslexia.

Prairies: Marc Hazlewood

For the past 15 years, Marc Hazlewood has been a leader and role model for young athletes in McCreary, Manitoba.

Marc sat on boards for local sports groups such as:

  • McCreary Minor Hockey
  • McCreary Golf and Country Club
  • Ste Rose Minor Baseball

Marc helped found the McCreary Minor Baseball Association. As one of the founding members, he transformed an old baseball field into a great place to play.

Marc was President of the McCreary Arena and is currently President of the McCreary Minor Ball and Parkland Minor Baseball. Marc has coached teams in hockey, baseball, golf, and basketball. He recognizes the importance of building strong sports programs to engage youth to be involved in healthy activities. He helps youth learn to be part of a team, support others, and to try their best.

British Columbia and the North: Norman D. Crerar

After moving to Vernon, BC, in 1981, Norman Crerar left a big mark on Silver Star Mountain. He turned a simple local ski hill into a top-notch spot for people who love outdoor activities.

Norman developed the Silver Star Mountain Volunteer Fire Department and was a member from 1984 to 2015. He currently is the chair of the Silver Star Mountain Community FireSmart initiative and serves on the board for the National Altitude Training Centre.

Norman also gives his time to the board for the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society. He is also active with the British Columbia Dragoons Regimental Society and the Bruderschaft Friends of Blue River Society.

Norman is known for his enthusiasm and dedication to his community.

Emerging Leader

Atlantic: Stacie Smith

Stacie Smith is a youth advocate from New Brunswick who helped improve youth mental health in the Atlantic region. In 2020, Stacey took on the role of Co-Director at the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health (YCRH).

As Co-Director, Stacie leads a team of about 50 young Canadians. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stacie’s focus shifted towards initiatives like ScienceUPFirst and Children’s Healthcare Canada. The goal was to encourage vaccination among Canadian youth and improving their mental health.

Stacie is involved with the Coalition for Healthy School Food to reduce food insecurity. This initiative aims to give students healthy meal options and improved their well-being.

Under Stacie’s leadership, the YCRH has experienced remarkable growth. It has expanded its youth membership by 50%, introduced innovative workshops, and created new employment opportunities for young members. This expansion has gained national attention, highlighting the importance of young people's perspectives in public discussions.

Stacie co-led the Youth Advisory Council for the Review into Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services in New Brunswick, which the New Brunswick Child, Youth, and Seniors Advocate Office conducted.

Stacie’s influence extends beyond Atlantic Canada and inspires young individuals across the nation in shaping the future of young Canadians.

Quebec: Jason Rivest

Jason Rivest has been involved in his community for almost 15 years. He began volunteering at the age of 16 at his local library in Sainte-Marie-Salomé, Quebec.

Jason was a mentor and advisor during the Simulation du Parlement européen Canada-Québec-Europe, president of the Maison des jeunes de Crabtree and director involved in the Fédération Québécoise des coopératives en milieu scolaire (FQCMS) and its cooperatives. He also volunteered from 2017 to 2021 for Citoyenneté jeunesse, an organization that aims to include youth in the public sphere. These roles illustrate Jason’s commitment to better integrate youth in Canada’s and Quebec’s decision-making processes.

Jason developed governance tools for the FQCMS network, safeguarding millions in dividends for over 200,000 members. His passion for equity is also reflected in the diversity policies he introduced, which promote better gender representation and the inclusion of ethnocultural minorities.

Guided by his ambition to help young people thrive and overcome their challenges, Jason strives to make communities more inclusive and dynamic.

Ontario: Lucia Marchionda

Lucia Marchionda has been a volunteer in her community in Hamilton for more than 10 years. She started volunteering when she was in elementary school. Lucia has been a leader, mentor, camp counsellor, a soccer coach, and helped raise money for local hospitals and community organizations.

Over five years ago, Lucia created an accessible and informative digital platform that empowers secondary students within the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. This website connects students to various community opportunities to enable them to be community leaders while meeting their graduation requirement.

When the COVID-19 pandemic made it hard for students to volunteer, Lucia coordinated various virtual opportunities raising funds for multiple organizations. She also created opportunities for students to make uplifting gestures for frontline workers in Hamilton hospitals.

Lucia improved many lives through her efforts and kindness and continues to lead by example.

Prairies: Justin Langan

Justin Langan has become an important youth leader in Swan River, Manitoba. Justin has been involved in humanitarian work since his teenage years.

Starting in 2015, he helped form the Youth Council at the Elbert Chartrand Friendship Centre, establish LGBTQ2+ and Indigenous dialogue in his high school, and volunteered weekly within the arts community.

Justin volunteered with the Manitoba Métis Federation. He helped with many events and played a role in creating Youth Committees in all seven regions of Manitoba. Justin engaged Youth representatives and securing funding for Métis Youth projects.

Also, Justin serves on several youth councils and committees and represented Metis Youth at hundreds of events promoting Indigenous Youth prosperity.

British Columbia and the North: Robin Changizi

Robin Changizi is dedicated to helping young people in Richmond, British Columbia, walk a path of service in their communities. He has helped establish the youth program in Richmond, which is dedicated to the empowerment of youth. 

In collaboration with the Richmond Youth Education Center, Robin dedicates efforts to cultivate an environment to foster awareness, and help youth discover their talents and abilities while serving the community.

Some notable efforts by Robin include:

  • starting a leadership program at the Thompson Community Center for students struggling in school
  • organizing a tree planting project in Richmond to honor the 215 graves found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School
  • launching a local business that supports people in need and provided jobs to students during the COVID-19 pandemic

Robin has inspired others to overcome their struggles and contribute to the world.

Social Innovator

Atlantic: Survivors of Abuse Recovering Society

The Survivors of Abuse Recovering Society (S.O.A.R.) was founded in 1993 in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Today, S.O.A.R. extends its support across the province. They help adults who experienced sexual abuse as children or teenagers.

S.O.A.R.'s approach focuses on peer support and empowerment. Their initiatives include:

  • peer support training: to train survivors of abuse to support to others and create a network of help
  • mentorship program: to connect peer supporters to a mentor so they don’t work in isolation and allows them to speak in confidence about any issues they may be having personally and/or with a peer client
  • online support groups: accessible online spaces where survivors can share experiences and find community
  • train-the-trainer program: trains experienced Peer Supporters to themselves become trainers of the Peer Supporter Program.

S.O.A.R. collaborates with over 10 local organizations including groups focused on women, youth, and Indigenous communities.

Quebec: Bénévoles d'Expertise

Bénévoles d’Expertise (BE) is a not-for-profit organization that operates mainly in the Chaudière-Appalaches, Québec national capital and Eastern township regions of Quebec. BE offers management and governance support services to not-for-profit organizations through skills volunteering.

BE creates collaborative, inclusive and collective learning opportunities where knowledge is shared between volunteers and organizations to act together on the transformation of our society.

BE facilitates access to resources for not-for-profit organizations, local communities, and social initiatives. Organizations strengthened by this expertise can improve their operational capabilities, innovate, resolve complex challenges, promote their management agility and be active players in their own development. Since its launch, BE has supported over 575 organizations and provided over 23,000 hours in knowledge transfer.

Ontario: The Hub

Since 2020, The Hub has been an essential resource for people experiencing homelessness, poverty, or addiction challenges and has a focus on high risk youth. The Hub programs are grounded in community health promotion, respect and collaboration. These programs include:

  • emergency response: to provide immediate help in crisis situations
  • access to health care: to connect people to health care services
  • Justice navigation and support
  • social and interpersonal skills: to develop social skills and community connections
  • transition support: to help young people in their transition to adulthood

The Hub's programs are diverse and impactful:

  • Walk-In Program: Welcomes 80 to 170 individuals each night, providing a safe space and essential services
  • High risk youth services with support in a 24/7 model: in the moment supports for crisis intervention, mediations and service navigation.
  • Medical clinic: providing judgement free, low barrier care in partnership with local health networks.

The Hub's programs and initiative aim to address community challenges. By collaborating with individuals with lived experience and exposing volunteers to learning opportunities, the HUB continues to improve support in the community.

Prairies: Norfolk Housing Association

For over 40 years, the Norfolk Housing Association in Alberta has been at the forefront of enhancing community housing. Norfolk unites diverse individuals to ensure affordable housing and prevent homelessness and poverty. They foster a sense of community, turning neighbours into friends despite their differences.

The association believes in the right to a safe, personal space for everyone. Norfolk’s approach to housing allows those requiring more support to have a comfortable home while maintaining their privacy.

Norfolk sets a benchmark in community housing through collaborative efforts. They frequently engage residents and the local community to:

  • plan for the future
  • address any issues
  • build community connections

Other social housing organizations have asked Norfolk to share how their model works. Norfolk gives tours, guidance, and presentations Norfolk shares their learnings through:

  • tours
  • presentation
  • conferences
  • webinars
  • other activities

They are influencing the way social housing organizations approach community housing.

“When a community has healthy families who can meet their basic needs and whose neighbours welcome them, it is a healthy community.” This belief drives Norfolk’s continued excellence in housing solutions.

British Columbia and the North: The Ashcroft HUB Society

The Ashcroft HUB Society (The Hub) is a not-for-profit organization that enriches the rural community of Ashcroft, British Columbia, with art, culture, fitness, sports, and community services. Founded in 2015, The Hub addresses the shortage of community spaces and resources. They transformed a former elementary school into a community center accessible to all.

The Hub is a center of activity, offering:

  • youth programs: Including after-school activities and summer camps for children
  • fitness and wellness: Offering fitness classes, boot camp sessions, and wellness activities for adults
  • art and cultural activities: Hosting art workshops and cultural events like live theater, dance performances, and choir gatherings
  • community amenities: Featuring a coffee area, event spaces, and a gym

Collaborating with over 20 local organizations and businesses, The Hub tailors its services to meet the community's needs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hub initiated a Community Helpline in partnership with over fifteen local service groups. This helpline provided crucial information on grocery and medicine delivery. It also coordinated transportation for medical appointments and access to other essential services.

Attracting about 3,000 visitors monthly, The Ashcroft HUB has become a beloved gathering place for Ashcroft residents and neighboring regions.

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