The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston
The Governor General's Caring Canadian Award
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Volunteer Stories

"A spirit of volunteerism is the foundation of all functioning societies, and lies at the heart of our human inclination to protect and care for one another."

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada

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Read some of the inspiring stories of Caring Canadian Award recipients, which showcase their contributions to their communities. These volunteers help build a smarter and more caring nation.

Glenn Akeson (Burlington, Ontario) is the founder of The Magic of Metals, an organization that raises funds for sick children, notably to benefit the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. He has been devoted to helping sick kids for over 25 years, leading events within the metallurgical industry in support of the Foundation’s mission. The Magic of Metals is now one of the Foundation’s largest donors and has helped more than 300 children’s wishes come true.

Sonja Bejzyk (Winnipeg, Manitoba) has helped other women in her community through her involvement with the women’s committee of the Ukrainian-Canadian council. She has promoted Ukrainian culture across Canada by organizing numerous events that helped to bring cultural communities together. Ms. Bejzyk continues to be very active, serving as a member, vice-president and president of several organizations at the provincial and national levels, including St. Andrew’s College, in Winnipeg, and the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League of Canada.

Wendolyn Callahan (Whitehorse, Yukon) has taken part in the Run for Mom campaign, a run that raises funds for breast cancer research since 1999. Thanks to her dedication and determination, she has raised over $80 000 in funding towards the purchase of a mammography unit for her community. Throught her positive attitude and involvement, Mrs. Callahan has provided a service of real benefit to women in Yukon.

Daphne Clarke (Windsor, Ontario) has dedicated over 30 years of her life to helping immigrant women. Jamaican by birth, she arrived in Canada in the 1970s. In 1980, she founded Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women, to help newcomers adapt to their new country, develop professionally and gain the self-confidence needed to improve their lives. Today, her organization has become the leading resource for immigrants in Windsor. Ms. Clarke’s spirit of solidarity and enterprise has improved the lives of many families.

Paul-Émile Cormier (Saint-Antoine, New Brunswick) has long been involved with civic, religious, social and athletic causes in his community. But most of all, he has focused on the adult literacy program in his region. He has shown leadership in this field, designing night courses and creating purpose-made materials. Through his determination to increase the store of knowledge in his community, he has helped to significantly decrease the illiteracy rate.

Alice Lorraine Forrester (Edmonton, Alberta) is a prime example of one who has triumphed over her own disabilities and directed her energies towards helping others. She has volunteered over 23 000 hours with the Cross Cancer Institute, distributing mail and magazines, and helping out in the Institute’s café. She has taken on her responsibilities with deep devotion and continues to care for cancer patients, bringing them joy and comfort.

For 27 years, Evelyn Florendo (Vancouver, British Columbia) has demonstrated great compassion for young offenders in British Columbia. Over the years, she has hosted and cooked meals, including Christmas dinners, at which she has brought hundreds of troubled youths together with positive role models. She has also prepared hundreds of gifts for the detainees, with funds raised during campaigns she holds throughout the year. She has convinced other volunteers to rally to the cause, and through her actions, has proven herself to be an exceptional example of compassion.

Norma Geggie (Wakefield, Quebec) has many accomplishments to her credit. In addition to serving her community as a researcher, writer, editor, local historian and literacy teacher, she started a local crafts cooperative, helped set up two seniors’ housing projects and is now working to establish a palliative care centre in the region. Her most famous work was with the Wakefield Grannies, a project that matched 10 grandmothers in Wakefield with 10 grandmothers in Africa, to help raise public awareness of the plight of children left orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.

Robert Gould (Ottawa, Ontario) has put his talents to work in his community for over 40 years. He has performed as a magician, puppeteer, actor and ventriloquist, raising thousands of dollars for children’s charities. He has brought dozens of characters to life, bringing laughter to children and to the most vulnerable members of the community. He continues to perform and is constantly reinventing his shows to reach new audiences, including people with developmental and or hearing impairments.

Extraordinarily generous and musically talented, Marina and Herman Harris have been devoted to their community for over 55 years. Mrs. Harris, accompanied by Mr. Harris on the guitar, sings at performances held by numerous charities and for various fundraising campaigns. In so doing, they have raised thousands of dollars and have brought joy and laughter to people all over the province.

Daniel Johnson (Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia) has been dedicated to helping children who are deaf or visually impaired since 1982. He is best known for his project in support of the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA), an organization for children who are deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. As a fundraiser, he succeeded in raising $124 000 by typing out numbers, in full written form, from one to one million—a project that took him 12 years. Now working from one million back to one, he has become a model of endurance, patience and the spirit of giving.

Kalliana King (Cowichan Bay, British Colombia) has had, from a very young age, tremendous compassion for those living with muscular dystrophy, a compassion inspired by her friend, who lives with the disorder. When she was eight years old, Miss King asked her parents for permission to become actively involved in fundraising. She dyed her hair pink to capture public attention, then shaved it off to raise funds for the cause. She has gone door to door, participated in fundraising walks and joined the local firefighters’ charitable campaign. Through her efforts, Miss King has raised $14 600, has inspired others in her region, and has raised public awareness of muscular dystrophy.

Yoshitaka Kinjo (Lethbridge, Alberta) is a master of the art of karate, and for 30 years has used this talent to benefit his community. He has hosted karate demonstrations in support of several fundraising campaigns, including those for The Lung Association, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He has tailored courses to groups of individuals living with various illnesses, such as asthma or fibromyalgia, as well as for individuals with depression or mobility impairments. He has demonstrated perseverance and patience, and has helped hundreds of people improve their physical health and mental well-being.

Pierre Lafrance (Montréal, Quebec) has volunteered with the Association des bègues du Canada, a support group for stutterers, for over 25 years. He has made tremendous contributions as a member, treasurer and president of the association. In addition, he has organized events and activities including seminars, conferences, information sessions and development courses. He never gives up and is always willing to rise to the most difficult challenge.

Lynn and Marvin MacLeod (Belle River, Prince Edward Island) have made tremendous contributions to the Canadian Red Cross branches of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. They have served in leadership roles on several advisory committees focusing on first response in disaster situations, notably the ice storm of 2008. They have also recruited and trained numerous volunteers, and provided support to disaster victims in their region as leaders in the emergency operations centre and with the Red Cross Emergency Response Team. Mr. and Mrs. MacLeod have distinguished themselves as first-rate examples of compassion and organization.

Lise Marchand (Saint-Jean-de-Matha, Quebec) has devoted herself to various causes over the last 40 years, particularly those involving children and families. She acted as UNICEF’s spokesperson for nine years and supported a children’s organization in one of Montréal’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods. She has also been involved in several community development projects in Latin America, including her current work with the Regroupement des missionaires laïque. A modest woman, Ms. Marchand’s actions speak of her great compassion.

William Martens (Leamington, Ontario) has volunteered since 1963 in various spheres of activity. For over 20 years, he has supported the Mennonite Church as they helped hundreds of refugees come to Canada and integrate into Canadian society. He has also volunteered for the Canadian Food Grains Bank Growing Committee and the Mobile Meat Canner, a project that aims to feed the most vulnerable people in the world. He taught English in Africa for many years and spent 20 years directing a youth chess club. A man of multiple talents, Mr. Martens is always ready to go the extra mile to help those in need.

Jutta Mason (Toronto, Ontario) has contributed her time and her ideas to the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, helping to instill a sense of community within the neighbourhood for nearly 20 years. Through her efforts, the park has become a gathering place bustling with activity, and a source of pride for local residents. The park is now considered a model way to share and use public space, drawing visitors from all over the world. Ms. Mason has inspired hundreds of people with her community spirit, energy and accomplishments.

Elaine McGee (Saint-Colomban, Quebec) is a shining example of social conscience and the spirit of solidarity. Twelve years ago, she created Marchant à tes cotés, an organization that works to break the cycle of poverty by allowing young single mothers, among others, to return to their studies. Ms. McGee not only set up a network of volunteers, but worked with them to devise creative methods for helping. For example, two people can provide concrete assistance by ‘adopting’ a student and her child until she has finished Cégep, allowing both mother and child to pursue better options for the future.

Barbara Joan McMurray (West Hill, Ontario), a long-standing volunteer, is best known as the founder of the Chosen Soldier Project, which gave thousands of people the opportunity to raise the morale of troops deployed overseas, by sending them letters and care packages. Ms. McMurray matched families from across Canada with more than 5 400 Canadian Forces personnel serving in Afghanistan. Parcels were filled with treats that were missed, such as candies, chocolates, soups and lip balm, items described as ‘like gold’ to soldiers. Through her dedication and recognition of our troops’ efforts, Ms. McMurray has become an inspiration to many.

Louise Morissette (Québec, Quebec), a long-time and dedicated volunteer, is best known for her service as a founding member and president of the Fondation Petits bonheurs d’école, formerly known as the Fondation Georgette-Lavallée. This organization encourages learning among disadvantaged children in Québec by establishing an atmosphere conducive to study. Through her dedication, persistence and determination, the foundation has been able to develop its services across all area school boards, helping thousands of young people increase their chances of academic success.

Despite having never served in the Canadian Forces, Larry Pearson (Weyburn, Saskatchewan) is committed to ensuring its members are recognized. Active in his community’s branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, he has organized parades that have included local veterans together with members of the local police and emergency services. He has also planned soirées and events to honour veterans returning from Afghanistan and has provided support for their families.

Daniel Ouellet (Québec, Quebec) has brought his workmates together in an ambitious project to benefit those living in poverty, for several years now. First, he identifies families in the community and compiles lists of goods that will best meet their individual needs. Then he and his companions assemble and store the items to be gift-wrapped in time for Christmas. When the big day comes, Mr. Ouellet and his team demonstrate the true meaning of Christmas by delivering gifts to all the families on the list. Mr. Ouellet’s compassionate and generous idea has provided hope for many families, especially children.

Gérard Renaud (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec), a Second World War veteran, has dedicated his life to serving others. He helped numerous veterans and their families. He also founded the local veterans’ association and was the key organizer behind the establishment of the 1813 Battle of the Châteauguay National Historic Site, in Allan’s Corner. Mr. Renaud remains very active in the community and continues to visit with veterans who are ill or in need.

Ryan Claude Walker (Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories) has demonstrated a true sense of community by participating in Operation Santa Claus, a program organized by the RCMP, over the past eight years in Tuktoyaktuk. Each Christmas, he has dressed up as Santa Claus and distributed thousands of gifts, heedless of the cold, to bring smiles to the faces of children and adults in his community. He volunteers for a number of other activities throughout the rest of the year and encourages other young people to do likewise. Mr. Walker makes his community proud.

Jun Kin Wong (Montréal, Quebec) has helped to share Chinese culture with other Canadians through his work with several Chinese cultural organizations, notably as co-founder and former president of the Montreal Chinese Community and Cultural Center. Mr. Wong has been involved in organizing numerous activities and events, including the Montreal International Dragon Boat Race Festival. His efforts have benefited Montréal’s Chinese community and a bridge between Canadian and Chinese cultures.

Date modified: January 7, 2014