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Governor General to present the Caring Canadian Award to 14 volunteers

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April 16, 2007

OTTAWA – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 14 volunteers at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, April 182007, at 10:30 a.m.

Created in 1996 by the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, the award is presented to individuals and groups whose unpaid, voluntary contributions provide extraordinary help or care to people in the community. Recipients have served over a number of years and normally have not been recognized previously by a national or provincial honour.

The names and citations of the recipients follow.

The award consists of a framed certificate and a lapel pin for everyday wear. The award symbol represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others.

Additional information about this award can be found at

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Media information
Rideau Hall Press Office
Marie-Paule Thorn


Laila Adassi

Ottawa, Ont.

Christine Easton

Kanata, Ont.

Elaine Garfinkel

Gloucester, Ont.

Maria Giacomodonato

Town of Mount Royal, Que.

Louis Paul Jeffries (posthumous)

Gananoque, Ont.

Germaine Lalonde

Alexandria, Ont.

Jean-Pierre Lapointe

Montreal, Que.

Richard M. Lemire

Île-Bizard, Que.

Carol Ann Namur

Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Que.

Taleeb Farouk Noormohamed

Vancouver, B.C.

Sister Rolande Robidoux,

Maniwaki, Que.

Bill Robinson

Kanata, Ont.

Hélène Wallingford Panalaks

Gatineau, Que.

Kathryn Windle

Renfrew, Ont.



Laila Adassi, Ottawa, Ontario
Governor General's Caring Canadian Award

Laila Adassi has shown exceptional leadership at a young age through her successful fundraising efforts on behalf of numerous local and national charities. In the last four years, she has devoted hundreds of hours outside of school working on events such as the Hillcrest High School's Annual Cancer Drive. She has also taken on great responsibility, such as directing approximately 500 volunteers at a time and deciding how best to invest donations for the development of new community projects. She has sacrificed numerous weekends and evenings to pursue volunteer initiatives and has worked as a peer tutor and student trustee. Ms. Adassi's community involvement, combined with her dedication to helping others, is an inspiration to people of all ages.

Christine Easton, Kanata, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Known as the “Banana Bread Lady” in the community of Kanata, Christine Easton has worked with charities since she was a young girl, selling poppies in 1932 to raise money for veterans of the First World War. She still sells poppies today on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion and continues to give of her time and initiative to numerous humanitarian causes. Over the years, her famous banana breads have enabled her to raise $20,000 for the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club. A strong advocate of youth programs in Kanata, Ms. Easton has effectively solicited donations from local businesses and lobbied for support for the Glen Cairn Community Association and the Kanata Youth Club. 

Elaine Garfinkel, Gloucester, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

For almost 40 years, Elaine Garfinkel has used her wisdom and experience to improve the quality of life of those around her. The school breakfast program, which she launched in 1990 as a pilot project in one school, has since expanded to 91 schools in four districts, with over $2.5 million raised to feed as many as 5,700 children. She is also a founding member of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic Committee of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. In addition, she has helped to raise money for the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation through her volunteer work on the Kanata Kountry music festival. A born leader and role model, Ms. Garfinkel has dedicated herself to initiatives benefiting children, their families and the Ottawa community as a whole.   

Maria Giacomodonato, Town of Mount Royal, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Maria Giacomodonato has significantly influenced many inner-city students and helped to bring hope and encouragement to children with learning disabilities. She has initiated several tutoring and mentoring programs for youth. In collaboration with Table Jeunesse Côte-des-Neiges, she launched the Montreal Hooked on School project, which provides support to students at risk. In addition, Mrs. Giacomodonato has helped to organize many educational workshops for students at La Voie High School. She has also introduced a program to assist young people in finding jobs with over 150 potential employers in the Montreal area. Her efforts have contributed to reducing the dropout rate among her students and have inspired many of them to become involved in community service.

Louis Paul Jeffries, Gananoque, Ontario (posthumous)
Governor General's Caring Canadian Award

For 50 years, Louis Jeffries was a coach, manager, executive member and representative of minor and junior hockey associations. His unfailing efforts brought about the opening of a new skating rink. He also raised money to increase seating capacity and to purchase a Zamboni machine. In addition, Mr. Jeffries volunteered with the fire service for 27 years and participated in fundraising events, fire prevention activities and parades. A dedicated member of the Royal Canadian Legion, he initiated youth programs and helped establish and maintain beautiful Legion Park on the shores of the Gananoque River.

Germaine Lalonde, Alexandria, Ontario
Governor General's Caring Canadian Award

For more than 30 years, Germaine Lalonde has been involved with the Canadian Cancer Society. She has helped ensure that cancer patients in her community receive treatment by coordinating a daily transportation service to Ottawa, Kingston and Montreal. She has been involved in the organization of annual events such as the Daffodil Days sales campaign and Curl for Cancer, and she has solicited funds door-to-door for cancer treatment. This active and compassionate woman has also opened her home to students looking for temporary shelter as well as to friends and family seeking tranquillity in their final moments.

Jean-Pierre Lapointe, Montreal, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Jean-Pierre Lapointe is dedicated to helping people who have had ostomy surgery in Canada and in less developed countries. President of the Ileostomy and Colostomy Association of Montreal and other related organizations, he has spent 26 years improving the assistance and services provided to patients. He has organized and directed a number of national conventions and symposiums, educated future nurses and doctors about the needs of ostomy patients and shown patients how to live normally after the operation. A boundless humanitarian, he also collects specialized products and sends them to developing countries through the SHARE project.

Richard M. Lemire, Île-Bizard, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost 20 years ago, Richard Lemire passionately and actively supports the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. An outstanding fundraiser, he organized the first Air Canada Classic in 1994, an annual golf tournament that benefits the society. Since then, he has raised almost $2 million to help fund research on multiple sclerosis and support services for affected people. He also participates in various fundraising activities such as the RONA MS Bike Tour and organizes read-a-thons in schools, making children aware of the challenges faced by people living with a degenerative disease. Mr. Lemire’s extraordinary determination and perseverance is a real inspiration.

Carol Ann Namur, Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

To address the lack of emergency programs in Quebec municipalities, Carol Ann Namur and her spouse, now deceased, founded the Sauvetage Canada Rescue (SCR) - The Volunteer Group in 1975. Since then, she has managed and overseen the training of 450 people who assist responsible authorities in emergency situations and whose goal is to save lives through education, prevention and rescue. Thanks to the response network she established with other organizations in several provinces, teams today are ready to act day and night to help find people who are lost or missing, to lend a hand during a disaster or to provide first aid services at community events.

Taleeb Farouk Noormohamed, Vancouver, British Columbia
Governor General's Caring Canadian Award

A hard-working and natural leader, Taleeb Noormohamed has demonstrated concern for young people everywhere he goes. He redesigned a mentorship program for Covenant House in Vancouver, which provides help to homeless runaways and at-risk youth, planning every step in its development and operation. He has served the Leukemia Research Fund of Canada as a member of its board of directors, sharing his communications and marketing skills to better establish and promote this charity. He has also played a vital role in the development of the Racing Towards a Cure initiative, a public awareness program for leukemia research, and he continues to devote himself to finding new and exciting ways of improving the world.

Sister Rolande Robidoux, Maniwaki, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Celebrated for her kindness, Sister Rolande Robidoux has been volunteering for half a century in the Outaouais region and, more recently, in and around Maniwaki.  From 1976 to 2000, she managed a used clothing centre and food bank for the less fortunate members of her community. In addition, she has come to the aid of abused or distressed immigrants, facilitating their sponsorship and helping them settle in their new homeland. Sister Robidoux also prepared hundreds of Christmas hampers for underprivileged families and currently works at the Centre de dépannage Christ-Roi in Maniwaki, which provides food to people in need.

Bill Robinson, Kanata, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Bill Robinson has shown a deep commitment to youth through his leadership and work with Volunteer Ottawa. After joining the organization’s board in 1997, he served in various positions and on numerous committees for youth outreach programs. Through the Rotary Bel Air project, he assisted in the renovation of a declining apartment complex, helping to turn it into a thriving and secure residence with a new playground, homework club and a classroom. For 10 years now, he has been involved with the Bell High School Interact Club, mentoring many high school students while teaching them valuable computer skills. A dedicated leader and devoted Rotarian, Mr. Robinson continues to engage youth in the community and to help them achieve their potential. 

Hélène Wallingford Panalaks, Gatineau, Quebec
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

A woman of courage and kindness, Hélène Wallingford Panalaks has devoted herself to aiding people in distress. In addition to organizing fundraising events for battered women and young single mothers facing hard times, she has helped new immigrants and refugees settle in Canada and has launched several community healthcare projects. In 1983, this former nurse founded the Association des femmes bahá’íes de Gatineau to support women’s social equality and empowerment. She has spent over 30 years promoting Thai culture in Canada and has volunteered abroad with her husband to work with impoverished communities in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Through her community endeavours at home and abroad, Mrs. Wallingford Panalaks continues to translate into action her personal motto: “La terre n’est qu’un seul pays” (This planet is one big country).

Kathryn Windle, Renfrew, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

A multi-talented individual, Kathryn Windle demonstrates a sense of responsibility and duty to helping others in her community and abroad. She is a dedicated canvasser for a diverse number of organizations, including the Renfrew Lions Club, the Cancer Foundation, the Kidney Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. A gifted singer, she has performed in seniors’ residences for over 30 years and at Friends of the Disabled telethons. She has also recorded CDs to raise money and to increase awareness of child poverty in the Renfrew area and the impact of HIV/AIDS on African children.