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Canada Sesquicentennial Awards: Oakville's recipents

Canada Sesquicentennial Awards Oakville Recipients July 2017 | MP John Oliver
Canada Sesquicentennial Awards Oakville Recipients July 2017 | MP John Oliver

Canada Sesquicentennial Awards were presented in Bronte Village during Oakville's Canada Day celebrations on July 1, 2017. 

In honour of this historic occasion, the aim for presenting the Canada Sesquicentennial Awards is to acknowledge and thank those who through their actions promoted inclusivity and celebrated diversity, worked to improve the environment, and/or who championed justice, equality, and democratic stewardship; individuals who personally made contributions that have, or are currently making the constituency of Oakville and by extension Canada, a happier, healthier and stronger place to live.

The Canada Sesquicentennial Awards Pin is a special keepsake that uniquely marries the emblem created for our commemoration and celebration of this special milestone with a small piece of history from Canada’s Parliament - the original copper which covered the roofs of Canada’s Parliament Buildings (Centre Block) from 1918 to 1996. Natural weathering of the Parliament copper over 80 years has produced the characteristic green colour.

From all across the Oakville constituency a wide range of nominations for the Canada Sesquicentennial Awards were sent in. Oakville is blessed with some amazing individuals. We have people who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of others, whether that has been a lifetime commitment to charitable organizations and work, volunteering their time and talents to help those in need, or to simply put a smile on the faces of those around them.

A third-party panel was convened to review the nominations received and select the individuals that would receive the Canada Sesquicentennial award.

Oakville's recipients of the Canada Sesquicentennial Awards

Gladtone (Bill) Allison |  Gladtone (Bill) Allison
Gladtone (Bill) Allison | Gladtone (Bill) Allison

Gladtone (Bill) Allison has positively impacted many people's lives through his involvement in the Lions Club, Trillium foundation, Halton Multicultural Council and many other initiatives over his lifetime. He is considered a cornerstone of the local lions club and has the energy & drive of a person half his age. Some of Bill's recent achievements include spearheading a 25K donation to the hospital and organizing the 80th anniversary gala for the Lions club. Bill mentors, advises, helps with speech writing and teaches conflict resolution. It has been said that “Bill elevates all those around him.”

Leanne Bishop has been volunteering at the local food bank since the age five years old. She continues to volunteer to make our community a better place as well as help children around the globe with her volunteer efforts through not only Girl Guides of Canada, but also the Duke of Edinburgh's Award program. She has completed 1300 hours of community service by the time of her High School graduation. Leanne has been a mentor to younger girls for many years as well through Girl Guides and was a Junior Leader for a Brownie unit.

June Cockwell |  June Cockwell
June Cockwell | June Cockwell

June Cockwell is a founding member of the Halton Poverty Roundtable. Since 2011, June has served tirelessly as a co-chair of a community movement that has evolved and developed significantly and is today a growing force for social justice change. She is considered a dream volunteer - she is a team player and happy to lead from the front , the side, or the back. Given the alignment with her work with HIPPY Oakville, her passion to see every eligible child receive their Canada Learning Bond is amazing! June also serves on Boards and Committees of many of our local organizations.

Stephen Dankowich is the founder and long-time executive director of the Oakville Community Centre for Peace, Ecology and Human Rights (OCCPEHR). In that role, he has fought tirelessly to improve Oakville's environment, notably by organizing the Earth Day Clean Up for 26 years, cleaning Oakville's parks and trails of winter debris. He has also been the driving force behind the Halton Eco Festival, held at Glen Abbey Community Centre, since 2000, and an early supporter of the Halton Environmental Network and other green groups.

 Cathy Duddeck
Cathy Duddeck

Cathy Duddeck works tirelessly to promote inclusivity and celebrate diversity across all sectors of our community. She treats everyone with the utmost respect regardless of their economic or social position. An active congregation member of St. Paul’s United Church volunteer Sunday school teacher, leader for CGIT; Pinegrove, Brookdale, T.A. Blakelock, and Appleby College school. She has volunteered with the Red Cross and enjoys fostering puppies for the Lions Foundation of Canada. Apart from her council duties as Town and Regional Council for Oakville’s Ward 2, Cathy currently serves on the Committees for the Oakville Santa Claus Parade and the Terry Fox Run.

John Fleming,  a Director since 2011 and Chair of the Board of Ovarian Cancer Canada for the past two years, has led the Board through transformative growth including the launch of a bold national awareness campaign and a government awareness campaign advocating at both the federal and provincial levels. John has also been keenly involved in representing Ovarian Cancer Canada to the broader stakeholder community, keenly engaging his wide network of colleagues and friends to become involved, speaking publicly at events nationally, and ably representing the cause to policy makers. John’s generous gifts of time, leadership and passion for this overlooked cause are all in service of changing the outcomes of this disease for Canadian women, making Canada a better and healthier place to live.

Marsha and Cameron Grout are a joint award. Where one goes, so does the other. Marsha has over many years met hundreds of Oakville families through door-to-door campaigns for Canadian Cancer Society, and the Terry Fox Runs. Although her Canadian prairie (Winnipeg) upbringing warned her to never talk politics or religion, Marsha could not “sit on the fence” when the Woman’s March protested President Trump’s inauguration. She brought along her daughter to help hold the sign: “I want my grandchildren to know that I was not silent.” Marsha has also been on the Board and shepherded the Festival of Classics, Oakville’s Shakespeare in the PArk experiences for the 10 years of its existence.

Cameron Grout’s Oakville heritage goes back through his grandfather, James Lundy Grant, to 1913 and the house he still calls ‘home’ on First Street. An outstanding athlete, Cameron competed in 1959 Pan Am Games, and in Rome on the 1960 Canadian Olympic Swim Team. Cameron no longer swims competitively, but carries his passion for pool sports as a volunteer, and as Treasurer of Oakville STROKERS, which provides therapeutic exercise programs in conjunction with other recreational activities for stroke survivors.

Together, Marsha and Cameron are well-known supporters of a spectrum of charities; most of which have local focus, from Ian Anderson House Foundation, the Defeat Depression Walk, Oakville Arts Council, and more. Together, they are a team, each contributing energetic individual talents, to common community social objectives.

Khalil Haniff is a senior himself working his free time in a local food bank; however, during any snow days he help to clean another more seniors' driveway. He volunteers to help Canadians to file their tax returns and also runs a seminar/presentation on tax filing. He mentors and helps prepare those in need for interviews, always with good suggestions, and so that conflict between parties could be resolved, Khalil was selected to review some financial audits.

Raza Hasan consistently provides mentorship to new immigrants and youth seeking employment or business opportunities. He is heavily involved in fundraising initiatives for the Oakville Hospital Foundation. Raza has lead several diversity initiatives, as well as being a member of the C D Howe Institute, Financial Services Research Initiative, he has worked with the Canadian Bankers’ Association on many of the policy initiatives impacting the Canadian economy, and more importantly, housing.

Catherine Kavassalis has been raising awareness to invasive plants (garlic mustard), providing input to the pesticide ban, organizing heritage tree hunts, helping to craft Oakville's Tree by-law and boulevard planting guidelines, with absolutely tireless. With the Oakville Horticultural Society, Cathy led the changes to the garden at the corner of Rebecca and Forsyth, creating a Garden for Life, a low maintenance garden featuring native plants. Cathy has been instrumental in putting forward an idea from a fellow horticultural society member called the Fields of Spring, mass plantings of daffodils in public parks. What sets Cathy's activities apart from just simple gardening, there always has to be an educational element in these projects.

Dr. Mohammed Viqar Khan is involved in Community outreach/Interfaith groups; in charge physician at the Central West Specialized Developmental Services in Oakville for patients with Autism; assists at PHABIS (Peel and Halton Acquired Brain Injury Services) clinic; teaches medical students from University of Toronto; and a member of various professional organizations. He is an epitome of a professional whose altruistic character has touched and impacted other people's lives in a positive way and whose kind acts serve as inspiration to the many that giving back to the community unselfishly makes a great difference.

Peter Kolisnyk |  Peter Kolisnyk
Peter Kolisnyk | Peter Kolisnyk

Peter Kolisnyk has done what few charity chairpersons would do in leading the way as the volunteer Chairman of the Board of Home Suite Hope. In 2015 he trained year long to compete in a grueling Iron Man competition to fund raise for our organization, raising over $25,000 in funds for the parents and children in our program. In 2016 he slept in a car for seven nights in Oakville on November 15 - 21 to raise awareness about the needs of the homeless. In doing so Peter shed a spotlight on families who often feel invisible and alone as they struggle to exist in poverty. Peter has spearheaded a larger initiative coming this Fall raising over $20,000 to date, to provide housing and supports for homeless families in our community and in doing so helped make these families lives better.

Ellie Mehltretter has volunteered for Safetynet Children and youth Charities for 4 years. She started in grade 9, tutoring children and youth struggling with their academics on a weekly basis. Ellie was dedicated to the educational welfare of the children she assisted, and displayed maturity beyond her years. She could always be counted on to be here and completed over 300 hours of community service with this charity alone while still in High School.

James Montague has made a significant contribution in raising awareness about the many gifts and talents of those in our community with developmental disabilities, bringing all of us closer together in support of these initiatives. Through James’ tireless efforts these events have achieved greater visibility and success, providing the opportunity for families in need of such services to come together and benefit from the support offered by organizations such as Special Olympics Oakville, Community Living Oakville and STRIDE, to name a few. James is also an active community volunteer, specially with his local Rotary organization.

Morar Murray-Hayes |  Morar Murray-Hayes
Morar Murray-Hayes | Morar Murray-Hayes

Morar Murray-Hayes is well-known as a strong community advocate, particularly for social justice, and is Minister of Maple Grove United Church, Oakville, where she successfully advocated for the initiation of a scholarship for a First Nations student at Laurentian University in the territory of the Anishnaabeg. She was instrumental in establishing the Halton Interfaith Council shortly after 9/11/2001. She was one of the driving forces behind an initaitve between her church and Shaarei Beth-El, our synagogue and Al- Falah mosque to be the first locally to sponsor a Syrian refugee family - and one of the few to do so on an interfaith basis.

Anne Peace taught Early Childhood Education as well as the first diversity course offered by Sheridan College, as well as many other courses that, according to her passion and devotion, always focused on physical and mental well being. She trained many, many EC workers who populated the Oakville area, and beyond.

Anne joined the Oakville Parent-Child Center early on sharing her love and knowledge, and to this day volunteers there from time to time giving a course for new mothers. She has been published in magazines and several books and co-wrote and published a remarkable book for new mothers titled: NEWBORN LIFE: FOSTERING JOY IN THE FIRST YEAR OF MOTHERHOOD.

 Ralph Robinson
Ralph Robinson

Ralph Robinson has been a Town Councillor for over 35 years. He was elected to his 11th consecutive term in 2014. Over and above his regular council duties, he is always available and ready to help whenever he is needed. Ralph is a member of the Halton Multicultural Council and founding member of the Accessibility Advisory Committee for people with disabilities. He is committed to preserving Oakville's green space and walking trails. Ralph chaired the Oakville Terry Fox Run for 25 years, and is the founding director of the Oakville Sports Hall of Fame and life member of the Association of Kinsman clubs.

Pravin Sharma is a long time community volunteer in Oakville, and currently involved with several projects throughout the Oakville community including with the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital Volunteer Association - H.E.L.P Program, the May Court Club of Oakville and the Seniors Day Programs at S.E.N.E.C.A. She also sits on the Interfaith Council of Halton, the Halton Police Forum and is the Ambassador for the Hindu Federation of Canada.

Ruth Sheridan personifies the definition of volunteerism, having served on numerous organization committees: The former Oakville Senior Citizen Advisory Committee, now SWAG, Seniors Working Advisory Group, SAVIS, counselling and assisting sexually abused, physically and emotionally abused women. She is training as a Senior Connector and is a Patient/Family Support Volunteer Advisor at the Oakville Hospital. She is now conferring and receiving advice and training from the CNIB to run a Peer Support Group for the Visually Impaired in Oakville.

Donna Starkey has a deep commitment to volunteering at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and is an Elder on the Board at St. Pauls United Church. As a leader in the Girl Guiding Movement of young woman, Donna has been acknowledged and awarded a plaque for her 40 year Commitment to Guiding in Ontario in April of 2014, and has received numerous other awards for supporting and teaching young women leadership roles in Oakville and Ontario throughout those 40 years. Donna was awarded the 2013 Leading Woman Building Communities Recognition Award, and she was awarded the 2015 Ontario service Award for 30+ years to the Oakville Historical Society.

Congratulations to Oakville's recipients of the Canada Sesquicentennial Awards, your dedication to our community is greatly appreciated!