Biographies of the members of Canada’s Volunteer Awards’ National Advisory Committee

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

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Selected from hundreds of nominations, the members of the Canada’s Volunteer Awards National Advisory Committee include individuals with experience working or volunteering with the not-for-profit, voluntary and private sectors.

The Committee is composed of members who are external to government, have extensive knowledge of volunteering and the volunteer sector and are reflective of Canada’s diversity. The Committee reports directly to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

Donald Babey

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

Donald Babey is very familiar with the voluntary sector, having worked for many years with the YWCA in Regina, Vancouver, and Yellowknife. He also worked with the not-for-profit organization Dying with Dignity Canada.

Donald has supported several not-for-profit organizations through his financial support and through volunteering on boards and committees. He is a member of Ecology North’s planning committee for the Northern Centre for Sustainability. Since 2016, he has served as a member of the board of directors of the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-operative. He has held executive positions on the board, such as chair and treasurer.

On behalf of the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-operative, Donald accepted the Canada’s Volunteer Award in the Business Leader category (British Columbia and the North) in 2018.

Amanda Bent

Shediac, New Brunswick

Amanda Bent has spent her professional life working in the voluntary sector. She currently works as the coordinator of the Robertson Institute for Community Leadership at New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). She provides resources for NBCC staff and students to build skills, knowledge and confidence through volunteering. She previously worked with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in New Brunswick. She increased support for the CNIB by enhancing volunteer opportunities and organizing fundraisers. She also worked with the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Cancer Society, raising funds and awareness.

Volunteering has shaped Amanda’s life and she credits her parents for instilling the value of volunteering and the importance of giving back. She has volunteered with the Shediac Lions Club for several years and served on the executive as president and past-president since 2015. She is currently a member of the board of the New Brunswick Career Development Association. She previously led food drives and eye glasses collections in Shediac.

On behalf of the NBCC, Amanda accepted the Canada’s Volunteer Award in the Business Leader category (Atlantic) in 2017.

Christopher Dougherty

Calgary, Alberta

Christopher Dougherty has 12 years of experience volunteering, working, and leading in the non-profit sector. The unifying theme between all of Christopher’s roles has been supporting organizations such as Volunteer Calgary (now Propellus), Imagine Canada and United Way Calgary in capacity building. This support helps a broader spectrum of organizations and missions do their work better across regions and systems. This empowers them to improve social outcomes in their communities.

Christopher has developed knowledge of the role and value of volunteering in various ways. These include his paid work in the voluntary sector, his voluntary work in capacity-building, and through formal education. His focus is on efficient management within the non-profit sector.

Christopher believes that strong, socially-conscious organizations help create thriving and engaged communities.

Amani Hitimana

Toronto, Ontario

Amani Hitimana faced significant integration barriers when he immigrated to Canada from Rwanda in 2006. These included difficulty finding employment due to a lack of Canadian experience and little recognition of his foreign credentials. As a way to gain Canadian experience, he started to volunteer with Adam House, a refugee shelter in Toronto. He took the opportunity to support newcomers to Canada and created a mentoring group for foreign-educated newcomers. The group’s objective was to share knowledge and to help others in their transition.

Amani firmly believes that volunteering is the key to improving society. In addition to supporting refugees and new Canadians, he supports persons with disabilities. He does this through his role on the board of directors for the Ontario Disability Employment Network. He strives to improve the quality of life for those unable to advocate for themselves, particularly for housing, employment, accessibility, advocacy and inclusion.

Amani is currently a PhD student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Alis B. Kennedy

Woodbridge, Ontario

Alis B. Kennedy’s first volunteering experience was at the age of 10 and it has not stopped for over 5 decades. While a student, her school asked volunteers to collect food and other items for families who were in need during the holiday season. Learning that many people were unable to provide for their families, not only during the holidays, but all year long came as a surprise for Alis.

The culmination of all those years of service to others has led Alis to one of her most rewarding volunteer assignments. Alis was appointed to the Ontario Honours and Awards Advisory Council. This committee selects recipients of the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship and the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers. She is the recipient of the Order of Ontario and other medals and honours.

Alis has visited patients in a leprosy institution in the Peruvian Amazon Forest and Andes Mountains. She also volunteered in South Africa, helping preserve the cheetah population. Her volunteering truly knows no borders.

Daniel H. Lanteigne

Montréal, Quebec

Daniel Lanteigne started volunteering when he was 4 years old, after his right foot was amputated. Despite his young age, he got involved with an organization that works to prevent the type of accident that happened to him. Over time, he found more and more ways to help the families of new amputees. He worked through the Amputee Coalition of Canada as a peer and peer trainer for other peers.

These days, he is proud to volunteer with several organizations through which he contributes to different communities. In addition, through his work in the corporate world, he oversees a national employee volunteer program. Through this effort, he has formed close connections with the most vulnerable individuals in our society. It is in that capacity that he has made the most of his volunteer work.

Pierre Morrissette

Montréal, Quebec

Pierre Morrissette has worked as executive director of the Centre d’Action Bénévole (CAB) de Montréal since 2016. The organization specializes in recruiting and coordinating volunteers for approximately 400 corporate and public members in Montréal.

For more than 30 years, Pierre has been an active volunteer in the community. He started volunteering in his teens when he observed, accompanied and helped his father with different charitable activities in Victoriaville. Those first hands-on volunteering experiences created an awareness of social inequalities. He learned that it is important for those who are more fortunate to help those with less.

Pierre is a versatile and dynamic executive and administrator who has served on various boards and committees. He has served with Commerce Solidaire Québec; Chantier de l’économie sociale and Comité d’économie sociale de l’île de Montréal. He is a leader who brings people together, as well as for his strategic vision and ability to achieve meaningful results.

Darlene Nuqingaq

Iqaluit, Nunavut

Darlene Nuqingaq has volunteered in many different capacities throughout her adult life. She has served as a Girl Guide leader, Crisis line responder, and as a board member.

Music is her passion and she has volunteered as an instructor and director of various music programs. Volunteering to provide fiddle lessons has been her joy and pride over the past 2 decades. Each year about 60 youth benefit from Darlene’s music lessons. The annual Iqaluit Music Camp touches over a hundred children per year. Writing funding request letters and planning logistics takes countless hours. Darlene is passionate about this work because it brings positive mental health outcomes to others and herself.

Darlene has witnessed the positive impact of volunteering; both as a recipient and a provider.

On behalf of the Iqaluit Music Society, Darlene accepted the Canada’s Volunteer Award in the Social Innovator category (British Columbia and the North) in 2017.

Reverend Deborah Olukoju

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Reverend Deborah Olukoju is a community leader and builder. After leaving her home country of Nigeria, Reverend Olukoju came to Canada as a student to study and lead a more prosperous life. Though she had little financial resources, she persevered and improved her situation and that of those around her. She has since provided counselling services to hundreds of individuals, supported newcomers to Canada and has helped prevent youth violence. As a role model in her community, she inspires action, selflessness, integrity and excellence. She has trained up other leaders who also counsel and coach young couples and young adults.

Reverend Olukoju reaches out to those in need regardless of age, gender or financial situation. She has assisted newcomers to Canada in settling and securing employment in Manitoba through her work. She volunteered with the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada Mentorship Program. She was also the liaison for the Nigerian community with the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. Additionally, she secured a public sector grant to provide 300 youth with the opportunity to attend and gain work experience at summer camps. She has assisted, cared for and provided opportunities for well over 2,500 individuals.

Reverend Olukoju received the Canada’s Volunteer Award in the Community Leader category (Prairies) in 2015.

Buffy St-Amand

Calgary, Alberta

Since 2014, Buffy St-Amand has worked with the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University in the areas of alumni relations and engagement. She previously worked with Volunteer Calgary (now Propellus), where she worked directly with Calgary businesses to establish volunteer opportunities for their employees. Buffy pioneered Volunteer Calgary’s Community Service Learning program. The program paired local not-for-profit organizations with a team of students and an instructor from the University of Calgary or Mount Royal University. She also developed and led the Calgary Corporate Volunteer Council for 3 years.

Buffy has served as a member of various boards and committees over the past decade. She has served on the Advisory committee of the Children, Youth, and Families Grant with the Calgary Foundation. She has also been a member of the board of directors of the Making Changes Employment Association of Alberta.

Anne Xuan-Lan Nguyen

Montréal, Quebec

At the age of 14, Anne Xuan-Lan Nguyen volunteered as a camp counselor for a week at the Camp Plein Air à Plein Cœur. Since 2014, she has volunteered at this week-long summer camp offered at no cost to disadvantaged children aged 7 to 12 from Montréal. Responsible for a group of 10 children, she got to know each one of them personally and learned about the challenges that they faced. She realized that inequalities exist not only in developing countries but also in Canada. Anne seeks in every possible way to eliminate those inequalities.

In 2015, she started a non-profit project called De l’air frais pour un sourire vrai. The program is geared towards the children who attend Camp Plein Air à Plein Cœur. This initiative gives the campers a chance to engage in athletic, cultural and artistic activities throughout the year, at no cost. As the project coordinator, she built a strong team of volunteers to work with her to make the program a success.

Since 2016, Anne has served on the executive of the Youth Council of Montréal. She provides advice on youth issues to the Mayor and City councillors. She has also served on the provincial executive of Tutorat Sans Frontières.

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