2020 Awards 

2020 Citizens of Exceptional Achievement Award Winners

Volunteer contributions for the 2019 calendar year.

2020 Spirit of Thunder Bay

Sonja Aldrich  

For the past 24 years Sonja has been providing friendship and support as a Friendly Visitor to older adults who reside in their own homes.

The Friendly Visiting Program is offered through the City of Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre.  This service offers weekly one-to-one visits and an opportunity for older adults to get out for some exercise.

Although Sonja and her client were not biologically related, they were very close. They spent hours talking together as they were born in the same country and would reminisce about their childhood and family traditions.  Sonja continued to visit her friend when she moved to a long-term care facility and remained her close companion until she recently passed away. Sonja was subsequently matched with an additional client in 2019 and the two ladies have become fast friends.

Sonja is also an active volunteer for the 'Patient Clothing Cupboard' through the Health Sciences Centre Volunteer Association. For over 25 years, Sonja has helped provide suitable attire for patients to wear upon discharge in situations where the patient or their family is unable to provide the necessary clothing.

Through her years of dedicated volunteer service, Sonja has brought much joy and compassion to many people in our community and Thunder Bay thanks her for her continued commitment.

Bruce and Marian Childs 

Bruce and Marian have generously given decades of service to the City of Thunder Bay and to the sport of badminton.

Marian started as a player in 1965 and since the 1970's herself and Bruce have been heavily involved in organizing and maintaining badminton clubs throughout the city with Marian as the President of the Northwestern Ontario Badminton Association (NWOBA)  from 1987 - 1989. For a number of years they have maintained clubs at Lakehead University (Thunderbird Badminton Club), Hammarskjold High School (Lakehead Badminton Club) and the West Thunder Community Centre (The West Thunder Badminton Club).

The two have always ensured that the clubs have a venue at which to play, dealt with any administration required and personally supplied and delivered equipment such as nets and shuttles. They have organized badminton tournaments and events such as local participation in the Friendship Games and the Ontario Badminton Association's Carlton Cup (1987) which was the first time the Provincial Championship had been held in Thunder Bay.

In 1986 Marian was awarded the Keith Hollands award for 'Outstanding Volunteer Service for Badminton in Ontario' after being nominated by the NWOBA executive as a whole for her initiative and strength of ideas.

Their efforts through the years have allowed multiple generations of players to get involved in the sport of badminton in Thunder Bay.  They have never asked for, nor received any compensation for their years of service to the badminton community and without their dedication, badminton would not be an option for many of the players and enthusiasts in the city.

Bruce and Marian deserve recognition for their dedication to the sport and bringing it to the community and for ensuring that others have the opportunity to enjoy the sport that they love so much.  

Carol, Brent and Carter Cline

Wesway provides respite services to people of all ages with disabilities and since 1989 Carol has been volunteering with them in some capacity.  Carol has played a major role in the life of one participant in particular for almost thirty years, starting as a Community Friend and then volunteering to become part of a Host Family to the same participant.

The Host Family volunteer role is a valued way Wesway volunteers can provide respite to caregivers while their loved one socializes, develops new relationships and gets to feel included.  Host Family volunteers invite an individual into their home, usually for an overnight or weekend stay once a month.  They include the individual in their family activities which can be anything from relaxing at home to going to community events.

Throughout her education and endeavours, Carol has always remained in the participant’s life, from inviting him to attend her wedding to welcoming the arrival of their son Carter. The Clines have been a committed relief to both the participant and his family and their arrangements and relationship have not altered even through the declining health of the participant and his family.

The Clines go over and above, providing transport for the participant to their home even though he lives rurally, for which the caregiver is very appreciative. The caregiver has described the Cline Family as a huge support because she is able to have a relaxing night at home, whether it be knitting or reading, something she doesn’t have much time for due to the demands of caregiving. The Caregiver describes the participant as another member of the Cline’s family and she feels she can have a genuine break whilst she knows that her loved one is happy, having fun and being cared for.  The Clines have a very welcoming, beautiful and entertaining home and Carter brings life and fun to the stay.

Thank you Carol, Brent and Carter for your commitment to the family and for volunteering at Wesway.  

Joan Krisko

Joan has been a volunteer at the Thunder Bay Children’s Aid Society for over 16 years, contributing more than 2000 hours of service.

Joan has made life easier for the multi-generational group of volunteers by supporting their understanding of information technology as well as reducing the time it takes to take on volunteers by streamlining processes.  She has inventoried and catalogued the Adoption Library resources and set up a toy room for families attending access visits with age appropriate toys and a donated dishwasher for easier sanitizing. Staff at the Children’s Centre have described Joan as ‘every Volunteer Administrator’s dream come true.’

The Volunteer Advisory Board has seen Joan hold the positions of Secretary and Member of the Policy Review Committee and Holiday Program Committee over the past 15 years. She has assisted with training kits and preparations for the AGM for several years, provided administrative and logistics support for conferences and support programs and was invited as guest speaker at the Adoption Council of Ontario Training Sessions.

Even before her retirement from the teaching profession, Joan was giving back to this community through her music.  She has been Organist/Pianist and Choir Director of the St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Parish since 1997 and other parishes before that, playing the music for funerals and weddings.  Joan has served in many capacities for the Fort William Rotary such as Director, Club Secretary and Chair of the Foundation Committee, Club and District Awards Committee and Sergeant-At-Arms Committee.  She also finds to time to schedule workers for Wilderness Discovery and be responsible for Ticket Control for the Fort William Rotary House Lottery.

Joan is constantly giving back to her community and the Children's Aid Society is fortunate to have been the recipient of her generous gift of time. 

Lynda Lahteenmaa 

An accomplished gardener and certified Horticultural Therapist, Lynda firmly believes that 'gardening goes beyond cultivation of the soil.' It is a pursuit that promotes wellness, creativity and joy.  Through her many presentations and Horticultural Therapy activities in the community, Lynda shares these enduring values.

Thunder Bay Art Gallery has long collaborated with the Thunder Bay and District Master Gardeners on the annual Art Gallery Garden Tour.  As a Master Gardener, Lynda has been an integral part of that collaboration.  For 15 years she has volunteered her time and has encouraged dozens of gardeners in our community to find joy in opening their gardens to the public. Utilizing her 20 years experience as a Master Gardener, Lynda has presented at teaching sessions at the Home and Garden Show, Seedy Saturday gatherings and other events.

Lynda's gardening passion led her to the study of Horticultural Therapy (HT) - a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities and the garden landscape to promote well-being for participants. Working with management and staff at Hogarth Riverview Manor (HRM), Lynda established a Horticultural Therapy program for residents living with dementia.  Her gentle leadership has also guided the creation of a significant outdoor garden that brings sensory joys into the lives of residents and their families.

Lynda has done much to raise awareness of Horticultural Therapy and pursued HT certification before its positive benefits were widely recognized, encouraging people to move forward with the idea and inspiring volunteers.  A decade later, she continues to help facilitate monthly HT sessions at HRM with other Master Gardeners and the program has become a model for other organizations who support individuals living with dementia.

Perhaps Lynda's greatest contribution lies in her approach to volunteerism.  She is always learning, growing personally and offering advice with humility. Lynda deserves to be recognized for her willingness to share her gardening knowledge and passion in our community. 

Stephen A Peters 

For over 55 years Stephen, a Canadian Army Veteran, has devoted his time and talents to volunteering within Northwestern Ontario and the Thunder Bay community.

Starting in 1964, Steve was an active member of the Entertainment Committee for the Royal Canadian Legion, Geraldton Branch, before he became the Sergeant At Arms in 1968 for the Port Arthur Branch where his responsibilities to maintain order and ensure Legion bylaws and traditions earned him the Past Offices Medal and Bar.

Steve has willingly taken on various construction initiatives and has applied his building expertise toward a number of projects helping to enhance the premises at all three Legions.  He developed a private meeting space within Branch #5 for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress and has donated and fundraised for furniture within the room.

As well as donating his time to causes outside of Canada, Steve has volunteered for many years within the Thunder Bay community. Since 1987 Steve can regularly been found helping with the weekly Branch #5 Fish Fry Dinners and monthly breakfasts, assisting at funerals, Christmas dinners, weekly Bingo and the CLE and Murillo Fairs. Steve initiated a fundraiser to purchase winter parkas for both the Ladies' and Mens' Colour Party for use during funerals, parades and ceremonies which remains a necessity during winter months.  On top of all of this Steve makes time to fundraise for the Thunder Bay Rural Food Bank and is currently involved in creating a 'Military Museum' within Legion Branch #225.

Steve's involvement in the Army Cadets has helped many a youth to achieve their goals of being the being the best version of themselves through training, developing leadership, promoting sport activities, outdoor activities and recreation.  His key involvement in constructing a portable outdoor food kitchen for the field was significant, allowing Army Cadet youth to readily access food for outdoor manoeuvres.

Steve's dedication has seen him receive many awards and certificates of appreciation from the Royal Canadian Legion and he deserves to be recognized for his many years of service to his community. 

Kathryn (Marie) Vance 

The community of Thunder Bay has been fortunate to be the recipient of over 50 years of dedicated volunteer work from Kathryn (Marie) Vance.  Since 1969 Marie has shared her time and many talents with a number of local organizations and taken on various roles and key responsibilities.

Starting at a young age in the canteen at the Current River Recreation Centre and taking part in a movie for Cystic Fibrosis, Marie began her volunteer journey. For 25 years, while employed at Dawson Court Home for the Aged, Marie, on her own initiative, brought a group of residents home each Christmas Eve for dinner. At one time she had up to 5 wheelchairs and 30 guests in her little home to celebrate the occasion. For 5 of these years Marie also volunteered at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre on the front desk and also in the Cancer Clinic, drawing on her experience as a 'Candy Striper' as a young girl.

For the past 15 years Marie has been a dedicated volunteer member of the Royal Canadian Legion Port Arthur Branch #5 Ladies Auxiliary.  Her roles and responsibilities have included kitchen and banquet organization, initiating the 'Janet's 2-bit Auction' and helping with many other Legion fundraisers.

Between 2005 and 2013 Marie also offered a stable, safe and loving home for teenagers with dysfunctional backgrounds, some of whom had attempted suicide.  Many have not forgotten Marie and still fondly call her 'Nan'.

All of these efforts and more have resulted in many fundraising projects reaching a successful outcome. But even more than this, Marie's guidance, leadership, welcoming attitude and good will has made a difference in the lives of many citizens of this community, young and old. 

2020 Good Citizen 

Age Friendly Thunder Bay 

Randy Moore, Ian Thompson, Shirley Ozbolt, Catherine Peterson, Cliff Huber and Brenda Reimer attended the first meeting of Age Friendly Thunder Bay in April 2009.  They took a concept and made it a reality, taking the lead to invite others to the table to be involved in a movement that would change the community for seniors, an ever growing demographic.

Age Friendly is a committee of dedicated stakeholders who wish to ensure that Thunder Bay is a good place to grow old. The list of active participants of the Age Friendly Thunder Bay Steering Committee grows monthly, as does the number of individuals and groups wishing to be part of this growing organization.  

Some of their many achievements include lobbying the City of Thunder Bay to become a member of the WHO Global Network of Age Friendly Communities, declaring the month of June as Senior's Month in Thunder Bay, obtaining nearly $300 000 of funding and sponsorship over the past 10 years and developing intergenerational education models that increase awareness and understanding of the needs of the city's aging population.

Numerous seniors have participated in the Cyber Seniors Program with the assistance of secondary school students. This enables those involved to learn to use social media and computers and enables students to learn about seniors through education modules which are now being used in the Teacher's Program at Lakehead University.

As well as presenting at the International Conference on Age Friendly Cities, the group have developed a website, implemented a community wide action plan and a city services action plan, introduced an annual senior's award and are currently seeking charity status. A new focus is on the isolated senior and how Age Friendly can communicate with them as well as identify their issues.

The above named individuals have been strong in their commitment to make this senior movement one that they can be proud of and know that it is accomplishing what is needed for Thunder Bay.  Each, in their own way, have provided eleven continuous years of leadership to the community and to Age Friendly. 

Ashten Allison 

In their own words 'For over a century, St. John Ambulance Canada volunteers have been dedicated to a singular vision: to enable Canadians to improve their health, safety and quality of life by providing community services and first aid training.'

Ashten has shown his dedication to this vision from the moment he first joined St. John Ambulance in 2013 as a reluctant and shy 15 year old. He has since grown from a Cadet to a young mentor and leader within the Medical First Response Unit who also train weekly to ensure the highest level of first response care. As well as attending regular Cadet Division Training Nights over the past 7 years, Ashten has used his skills, professionalism and empathy volunteering as a First Responder at as many events as possible during the year. This young man is constantly doing his best to further his education, work his regular job and volunteer with St. John Ambulance in any capacity that he can.  Ashten is always the first one to sign up to attend various events throughout the region, often travelling as far as Wawa and Atikoken to ensure that the events have sufficient first aid coverage.

For the younger members, especially within the Cadet Division, Ashten has become a role model.  Every training year he makes a presentation to the Youth Unit about his 'career' at St. John Ambulance and what it takes to become a member of the Medical First Response Unit.  He also takes the time to ensure that the Cadets are up to date with their knowledge of the medical supplies and the ambulance.

Ashten consistently displays the leadership characteristics that this historical organization strives for and he is truly an ambassador for St. John Ambulance in Thunder Bay. 

Joseph Betchta

Anyone that has patronized the gift shop at St. Joseph's hospital would have had the privilege of meeting Joseph at some point over the last 15 years. His work providing customer service to clients, visitors, and staff and his many hours assisting with fund-raising efforts has been second to none.

Joe is the coordinator of Lottery sales in the gift shop and assumes the main responsibility for the scheduling of the Nevada ticket sales volunteers.  Funds raised from sales provide additional monetary support which is donated to St. Joseph's Foundation to be directed to client needs.

Often as the first point of contact in the St. Joseph's Hospital lobby area, Joe's congenial manner, friendly service and willingness to assist is appreciated by many, as is his availability to work at impromptu times when other volunteers are not available. Joe's willingness to assist any Personnel visiting the lobby in any way that he can is also truly valued.

As well as appreciating the value of the shop being open to accommodate clients during regular hours, Joe finds time to provide extra volunteer hours on various weekends when many of the patrons are happy to just stop in and pass some time socializing.

Joe has always been an active, committed and dedicated volunteer who demonstrates the Care Group values of Care, Compassion and Commitment. He is truly a Goodwill Ambassador for St. Joseph's Care Group and everyone appreciates Joe for being there and doing what Joe does best, being himself!

Erin Black 

Thunder Bay has been the grateful recipient of over 20 years of dedicated and committed volunteer service from Erin.

Erin began volunteering at the Hair Salon at Pioneer Ridge Long Term Care Home, ensuring residents attended their appointments and keeping the salon clean and orderly until she made the decision to volunteer at the City of Thunder Bay Homes for the Aged, Grandview Lodge, where she assisted for 10 years.

In 2015 it was announced that the home was closing, and the residents would be moving to Hogarth Riverview Manor.  Swiftly after the residents relocated, Erin signed on as a volunteer with St Joseph's Care Group to continue helping the residents she had come to know so well.  Since then, Erin has remained a caring, compassionate and committed volunteer, assisting in the Salon twice a week and making sure the residents are treated with dignity and respect.

Erin thoroughly enjoys helping the Therapeutic Recreation Staff too with special events, having fun and spending quality time with the residents. As much as Erin enjoys working with seniors, especially seniors living in long term care, they too enjoy her kind and gentle spirit.

Erin has also been an active volunteer with the 2020 Special Olympics held here in Thunder Bay, working enthusiastically to support the athletes competing in our city.  She is an individual who gives of herself unconditionally and receives just as much joy as she shares with others. Erin is committed, reliable and can always be counted on. 

Marilyn Bottan 

Marilyn was first introduced to Pinewood Court Long Term Care when her mother became a resident in 2001. During her visits, Marilyn always provided a helping hand to anyone who needed one. Guests to the home often thought Marilyn was a member of staff as she was always very knowledgeable, making everyone feel comfortable and welcome and  was also an active member of the Family Council where she advocated for, not only her mother, but all residents.

After Marilyn's mother passed away in 2010, she began volunteering full time, taking on the giant task of making the numerous garden areas at the home beautiful. This task alone was a huge undertaking, but Marilyn also continued to sit on the Family Council and started volunteering for community outings, special events and memorial services. At Christmas and other holidays Marilyn has taken on a lead role in decorating each resident home and common areas.  The home looks beautiful inside and out thanks to her detailed and timely decorating skills and green thumb.

Marilyn is also a willing volunteer at St Dominic's Church, singing in the choir, dealing with funeral liaison, providing weekly communion services at Hogarth Riverview Manor and volunteers annually for the Christmas Cheer Operation.

While continuing to provide a firm foundation for her husband, children and grandchildren, Marilyn is someone that can be called upon at any time of the day or night to help out with any task.  She is a truly amazing woman that gives her time and commitment to her community, her family and now Southbridge Pinewood and her dedication and selfless acts of kindness never go unnoticed. 

Sharon Bukovy 

For over 20 years, Sharon has been a caring and compassionate volunteer at St. Agnes Parish. For over 5 of those years, Sharon has also been a volunteer with Spiritual Care Services at St. Joseph's Care Group, Hogarth Riverview Manor, assisting residents with attending weekly Roman Catholic Communion Services and organizing a monthly Roman Catholic Mass.  Sharon is passionate about ensuring that seniors, who are no longer able to attend services in the community, have the opportunity to attend Roman Catholic Services offered where they live.

At St. Agnes Parish, Sharon is a Church Lector and is the Treasurer on the Executive Committee of the Catholic Women's League.  As a retired Registered Nurse, Sharon is also a volunteer on the Parish Nursing Team, hosting blood pressure clinics for church members.

Sharon has proven herself to be a very organized and committed volunteer leader, drafting up yearly schedules for her team and ensuring services run smoothly. She always arrives prepared and ready to set up for services and often delivers the readings herself.

Sharon promotes the mission, vision and core values of St. Joseph's Care Group with her care, compassion and commitment to the people she serves and is an active community member who shares her experience and expertise with the volunteers she leads and with the residents she works with.

Sharon is appreciated for her many years of service and commitment to improving the life of seniors in both her community and living in long term care.  

Kai Crites 

The needs of people who access the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) can be varied and complex.  Kai has been navigating those needs and offering appropriate assistance to the people who require it since 2014.

Kai works with people in our community who are blind or partially sighted. For somebody newly adjusting to vision loss, finding the tools and devices suitable to their needs and degree of vision loss can be difficult.  In his role as assistant at the CNIB Shop, Kai helps to identify those tools and is dedicated to providing assistance to those who need it.

Home to hundreds of products that can make life easier after a loss of sight, Shop CNIB is a retail enterprise created by the charity Canadian National Institute for the Blind.  It has grown to be one of Canada’s largest retailers of assistive products for people who are blind or partially sighted, serving more than 15,000 customers per year.

Kai's attention to detail and dedication to his role as shop assistant is paramount in delivering quality customer service. He can often be found helping his clients navigate online shopping which many of the senior shoppers are extremely appreciative of. Not only does Kai volunteer at the CNIB shop but he is always willing to assist in special events and drop in programming.  When called up, Kai is always dependable and willing to help out in any way that he can.

As President of the local Canadian Council for the Blind Chapter and Chair of Thunder Bay's Municipal Accessible Advisory Committee Kai constantly demonstrates strong leadership and is independent, confident and acts as a positive role model for other people with vision loss. 

Doug Dixon 

Doug has been a reliable, active volunteer with the 55 Plus Centre for 23 years, coming to the Centre in 1997 after retiring from the world of teaching.

The 55 Plus Centre is the Older Adult Unit of the City of Thunder Bay's Recreation and Culture Division, providing community programming and health and wellness services for Thunder Bay's 55 plus community. The River Street Cafe is an integral part of this program, providing hot, nutritious food and a warm and welcoming atmosphere for guests at the 55 Plus Centre.

Doug can be seen every Wednesday morning hard at work in the dish pit at the River Street Cafe.  Always willing to help out when things need to be done and always with a friendly smile, he is an important part of the kitchen team.  Dishwashers are highly depended on to keep things moving and Doug is constantly on the go, always early for his shift and rarely missing one.

When Doug began his journey at the 55 Plus he joined the Board of Directors right out of the gate.  At that time, members of the Main Board were appointed to the Food Program Advisory Board and Doug graciously accepted this appointment.  Doug served on the Advisory Board from 1997 to 2002, during that time serving as Chair and Past Chair.

His fellow volunteers and Cafe staff describe Doug as, not only humble and kind, but also a perfect gentleman.  An Integral part of the team, Doug's dedication to the organization is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed by the staff, his peers and the people he serves.

Empty Bowls Caring Hearts 

For 20 years, Empty Bowls Caring Hearts has raised over $400 000 to support Shelter House Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Food Bank. The annual fall event sells tickets to share a humble meal of soup and bread and receive a beautiful hand-made bowl as a keepsake. The bowls (approx 400 annually) are made and donated by dozens of local potters, the soups by local restauranteurs and many other items are generously donated by various businesses and individuals.

The organization has a dedicated committee and an energetic group of volunteers who are willing to help in any way possible to fund-raise and raise food insecurity awareness.  One organization and two individuals have been steadfastly involved since the beginning in 1999.

The Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship (LUF) has provided the leadership and administrative support needed to hold the annual fundraiser. The LUF has also supported the raising of awareness of food insecurity in our community as an issue of social injustice.

In the late 90s Pyteke Blaauw, an active LUF member heard about Empty Bowls events in other communities and proposed to the LUF leadership that it be tried in Thunder Bay.  LUF agreed and Pyteke, a natural leader and fabulous volunteer, went ahead.  Pyteke has given 20 years of her life volunteering in every capacity including Chairing the committee for many years.

Alan Moon, a talented local potter was one of the first people Pyteke approached when initiating this important fund-raiser.  Alan agreed and has never looked back, serving as the Thunder Bay Potters' Guild Representative on the organizing committee for 20 years. He promotes and organizes the participation of dozens of local potters and contributes 50 to 75 bowls himself.

Empty Bowls Caring Hearts Thunder Bay would not exist without the leadership, commitment and hard work of Pyteke Blaauw, Alan Moon and the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship. 

Helping Hands Auxiliary to Pioneer Ridge

For over 25 years the Helping Hands Auxiliary to Pioneer Ridge has been dedicated to enriching the lives of the 150 residents at this wonderful Care Home.  Several of the 25 volunteers in the group joined due to having a loved one living at the facility.

The primary focus of the group is to ensure the residents enjoy their new home and on admission, the group provide each person with a very thoughtful welcome gift bag.  The residents have had the use of and enjoyed Ipads, sleeper chairs, Christmas gifts and hair salon equipment because of the fundraising efforts of the Auxiliary. The outdoor therapeutic spaces such as the Butterfly Garden have been greatly supported by the group's hard work.

The many fundraisers such as the Annual Spring and Christmas Bazaars, chocolate bar sales, 50/50 draws and Nevada ticket sales, organised and run by this hardworking group have certainly enhanced the lives of the residents.

The Auxiliary actively support many of the recreational programs offered by the facility to allow residents to engage in social, cognitive, spiritual, physical and sensory stimulation. This includes covering all transportation costs incurred when residents attend community outings, funding a Music Care program and many other special events.

Their compassion and strong work ethics have enabled the Auxiliary to make a difference in the lives of the residents, family members and staff of Pioneer Ridge and everyone is grateful to this dedicated group of volunteers for making a significant, positive impact on the care home.

Eric Hibbert

In 1997 the Zorya Ukrainian Dance Association was formed. Soon after, a dance school was created to provide instruction in traditional Ukrainian dance to anyone who wished to learn.  Eric was introduced to Ukrainian dancing when he was 6 years old and twenty-five years later Eric is still dancing, eager to learn and pass on his knowledge to young dancers and his dancing peers.

During the past 11 years, Eric has been actively involved in the leadership of the Zorya Ukrainian Dancers. He has been on their Executive as Registrar/Public Relations Director; he has taught younger dancers, has been both Assistant, Head Instructor and Co-Head Instructor for the Senior Ensemble.

During his years of Ukrainian dancing Eric has studied under well-known choreographers.  He values this knowledge and willingly accepts opportunities to pass it on to others. He has enriched the community of Thunder Bay, not only by instructing dance, but also as a dancer, performing at special Ukrainian celebrations, weddings, anniversaries, Thunder Bay events and Seniors' homes.  As well as being involved in local performances, Eric has been an excellent ambassador for Thunder Bay, performing at Ukrainian Festivals in places such as Winnipeg, Minneapolis, Toronto and more recently, Kiev, Ukraine.

As a teacher, choreographer and dancer Eric is an excellent role model for dancers new to the dance school. He is also willing to lend a helping hand wherever it is needed at the studio. He volunteered to take on the project of providing the Zorya Dancers with a new public relations display booth and also installing an entire wall of mirrors in the studio, needed as a result of re-location.

Eric's dedication and commitment have been evident throughout the years and his volunteer efforts have helped the Zorya Ukrainian Dance Association grow into the successful dance group it is today.  

Linda Horan

Volunteers play an important role at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre enhancing the programs and assisting staff in providing exceptional care.  Since 2014, Linda has been one of these dedicated volunteers.

Beginning in the Elder Life Program and progressing to the Endoscopy Department as an Endoscopy Chart Volunteer, Linda provides a welcoming environment for everyone around her. As a service leader, Linda demonstrates her dedication to her volunteer role as well as to other volunteers assisting in that area, providing them with service area training and detailed information about the Department.

Linda is always willing to step up and help where needed.  As well as always being available to answer any questions new volunteers may have, Linda is always willing to cover when there are vacancies in the schedule or volunteers are unable to make their shifts. Over the Christmas period this year, Linda wanted to ensure that her volunteer team did not have to come in over the holidays. She took the initiative to come into the Endoscopy Department every day for a week as a way of making sure that the nurses were not having too much work to do over Christmas.

Linda is a kind, caring volunteer and is committed to her role at the Health Sciences Centre, bringing positivity and motivation to her volunteer role within the organization. Her dedication, initiative and passion are so important to staff and fellow volunteers and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is fortunate to have her.

Pat Hudon

The Oliver Road Community Centre has been offering their services to the Thunder Bay Community since 1948. It is a space often used for weddings, showers, socials meetings and parties with a great outdoor area with facilities for tennis and basketball and also has an ice rink.

Pat has been an active member and dedicated volunteer of the Community Centre since 2005. Pat is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary and has been faithfully attending their monthly meetings for the past 15 years.  The Community Centre hosts many special events to raise funds to purchase any new equipment required and to update items which are used by anyone using the facility and Pat is very often involved!

Pat has supported special events such as the Christmas Tea and Bazaar, donating draw prizes, making sandwiches and baking delicious items for the dessert platter.  At the annual Winter Carnival, Pat volunteers in the canteen and helps make meatballs and perogies ahead of time.

The Community Centre is better served with capable volunteers like Pat and her dedication and commitment is very much appreciated. 

Steve Jobbitt 

The Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group has been lucky to have Steve volunteer with them as both a teacher for 11 years and the Assistant Artistic Director for 6 years.

Steve is involved with all members of Chaban through his volunteer work, preparing creative choreography and teaching whilst demonstrating technique with great enthusiasm. His fresh ideas with writing scripts led to the recent concert 'Vasyl and the Varenyky Factory' where his humour and eloquence was evident.

Steve's choreography for solo and duet performances have led to the winning of several awards and his choreography for the Ensemble Male Carpathian dance and the Ensemble Podiallian Region dance will be showcased at the 40th Anniversary concert.

Organization and focus on important details are critical which it comes to facilitation and coordination of competitions and performances and this is where Steve excels. He is also very diplomatic and astute when working through complicated details and situations, always being fair and understanding. He has a great sense of humour and his passion and ability to engage and enthuse others to stretch their ideas has helped to motivate all students to love the art of Ukrainian dance.

Steve never stops learning and is generous with his time, passing on his knowledge to others. His 11 years involved with Chaban as a volunteer has touched the lives of hundreds of dancers and those of their families and Steve's willingness to help 'behind the scenes' has assisted Chaban to move forward in many ways.

Steve's creativity, dedication and innovation with Chaban has promoted Ukrainian culture and tradition through dance and makes him very worthy of this award.

Bernie Knibbs

Southbridge Roseview is a long-term care home that has welcomed the time and commitment given by Bernie for the past 17 years.

The work of general volunteers at care homes can make a huge difference in the lives of the residents. By sharing their time and talents, volunteers provide companionship and support. Since 2002 Bernie has been a general volunteer at the home offering such companionship to residents who may otherwise not get any visitors. He has become almost family to many, assisting those who may need help eating their meals and bringing them to and from the varied recreational programs offered.

During the summer, Bernie works tirelessly helping to landscape the gardens, trimming rose bushes and watering flowers which in turn helps to make the care home more beautiful for residents and visitors alike.

Bernie shows true commitment and dedication by rarely taking a day off from volunteering.  He makes a point of coming in on holidays, evenings and weekends and if called for help, staff know that they can rely on Bernie to respond as soon as possible.  The staff at Southbridge Roseview describe Bernie’s commitment to the care home as amazing and do not know what they would do without him. 

Heidi Kruger

For over 20 years, Heidi has been giving the gift of her time to the Thunder Bay community. 

For 15 of those years, Heidi volunteered at Shirly's Hair Salon within Grandview Lodge Home for the Aged, helping residents to attend their appointments and making long-term friendships along the way.  When Grandview Lodge closed in 2015 and the residents moved to their new home at Hogarth Riverview Manor,  Heidi immediately signed up with St. Joseph's Care Group Volunteer Services, wanting to visit the residents she had come to know and also to be of help in the new Salon.

Heidi walks many miles escorting residents from their home areas to the Salon, ensuring that they feel comfortable, safe and have a positive experience. She explained that 'she loves being around people and helping in any way that she can.' Her enthusiasm, great smile and contagious energy makes everyone light up when she volunteers.  She gives of herself unconditionally without expectations and brings smiles, laughter, love and friendship to everyone she meets.

On top of volunteering in the Salon, Heidi also enjoys helping the Therapeutic Recreation staff with special events such as bingo and indoor and outdoor entertainment events.  She can often be seen around the home areas, socialising and interacting with staff, residents and their families.

The wider Thunder Bay community has also benefitted from Heidi's generous gift of time. In the past she has held positions as a Special Olympics Track and Field Ambassador and is on the Cheer Leading Squad for the current 2020 Winter Games. She can also be found helping out at the Twice As Nice Used Clothing Store.

Ellen Lang

PRO Kids' (Positive Recreation Activities For Kids) Vision is that all children and youth in Thunder Bay are able to participate in recreation activities that boost their self-esteem and promote their healthy growth through the learning of new skills, increased knowledge and personal development.  They provide program and financial assistance to as many children and youth (ages 0-18) as possible who, due to lack of funds, are unable to participate in registered recreation activities.

Ellen has always had a strong drive to volunteer for PRO Kids and has been on the Fundraising Committee of this community service since 2005 in various roles, her most recent  as Chair. The Fundraising Committee plan and organize events, sell merchandise, make approaches to businesses and plan new fundraising ideas.

She has taken on the Dress-Down Days initiative as her personal project and visits the office quarterly to engage in some much needed data entry using her strong organizational skills. Ellen is a regular at PRO Kids events, taking registrations at Training with a Pro, collecting admissions at the PRO Kids Skates, score keeping at the PRO Kids Quiz Nite and helping at Conquer the Tower, to name just a few.

Ellen's excellent organizational skills, self-motivation, reliability and desire to help wherever she can keeps things on track and her no-nonsense way of looking at things is especially appreciated.

Ellen has a strong belief that keeping kids active helps them grow and thrive and through her fundraising efforts more children have been able to access community recreation activities.  PRO Kids loves and thanks you Ellen Lang.

Marjaana Martikainen

The Independent Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Thunder Bay had a fledgling congregation of just 58 when it was first developed in an old church on Secord Street.  That number increased greatly due to the immigrants arriving from Finland almost weekly and in 1978 Marjaana became one of the dedicated volunteers that would help the church to grow.

In 1984 the Church Summer Camp was acquired on One Island Lake and Marjaana was an enthusiastic volunteer at the Bible Camp here.  Within the church Marjaana lent her hand to most things; singing in the Church Choir, taking part in any kitchen duties and helping with baking and Sunday coffees.  The administration of the church was another area in which she assisted, participating in bookkeeping and banking.

With the tremendous volunteer effort of those like Marjaana a beautiful new church was constructed in 1995 and its new name was the Hilldale Lutheran Church.  Marjaana acted as a 'gofer' during the construction period helping wherever help was needed. As well as keeping her roles from the previous church Marjaana took on a variety of other positions to enable to the church to thrive.

Marjaana is the leader of the Altar Guild, making sure that that the sanctuary is prepared for worship.  She is also happy to give a ride to anyone that does not have a vehicle, ensuring that anyone who wishes to can attend ceremonies.

Marjaana comes from a large family where the values she keeps were taught at an early age from her parents' example.  She is happy to help and expects nothing in return, it is just in her nature to volunteer. Marjaana's decades of volunteering has not only positively impacted the church but also the wider Thunder Bay community.

James Matijasic

For members of the Knights of Columbus, charity is at heart of their work and James is no exception!

Jamie has worked tirelessly for the Knights of Columbus Council 1447 since 2013 where he is a Council Officer.  His active participation in meetings has resulted in many of his suggestions being implemented to the betterment of the Council.

He has assisted with raising funds that are distributed to local charitable organizations through participating in Spaghetti Suppers and ticket sales. The children of this community have enjoyed Jamie being Santa in the Our Kids Count Christmas Party and the Annual Rotary Christmas Parade where his assistance on the Knights of Columbus Float has also been invaluable.

Thunder Bay has an excellent reputation as a host for sport events and hosted Special Olympics Ontario's 2011 Provincial Winter Games where 390 athletes from Ontario and a delegation from Manitoba took part in several winter sports. The role of volunteers during these events are invaluable and Jamie was proud to represent Thunder Bay as both an Ambassador and also as an Athlete.

Jamie's Charity work doesn't stop there. He also helps raise funds for food for the Dew Drop Inn, enabling hungry people to receive a nourishing meal each and every day.

Jamie's charity work and participation in the efforts of the Knights of Columbus continues to positively impact the community of Thunder Bay and he deserves to be recognized for his commitment. 

Tara O'Brien 

Tara is a guitar teacher who writes her own music and has been sharing her gift with the members of Peer Connections for ten years.

Peer Connections is a program which offers services for those living with a diagnosed mental illness and/or addiction challenges. As a volunteer with the Peer Connections Day Program, Tara encourages the members to learn to play Guitar and offers lessons to those who would like them. She also hosts a music day each month in which members are invited to participate, either by choosing songs, playing the guitar along with her or keeping the beat with other percussion equipment available.

Tara also has had her own experience with mental health and addictions challenges and is available to assist others by listening to and discussing any concerns that the members may have and provides options and further supports if requested or identified.

As well as the Peer Connections Day Program, Tara also provides Guitar Lessons and Music Days at other St. Joseph Care Group sites, sharing her gift of time with a variety of people.

Tara is dedicated to encouraging members at Peer Connections to take steps to recovery. Her love of music, which she shares willingly, and her lived experience helps greatly in that endeavour. She provides connections to community resources as well as education, social and recreational opportunities and Tara's dedication and commitment never go unnoticed.

Wally Peterson

The Kiwanis Club of Westfort is a community service club dedicated to improving our community with special focus on helping young children. Wally has been a long-time member and tireless volunteer for the club.

Funds raised by the Kiwanis Club primarily support children's initiatives in Thunder Bay. Wally is the driving force behind the club's annual fundraiser at Hymer's Fair. The club has been a fixture at the Fall Fair for over 4 decades selling corndogs and other fair food originally from a tent and more recently with a newer permanent structure.

As well as mobilising volunteers and organizing events for Kiwanis, Wally has been very active within the local sports community. He has been a basketball official for 39 years and has volunteered his time to run referees' clinics to train other local officials.  Wally was recognised in 2016 by the Ontario Association of Basketball for his long service.

Recently, the Alexander Henry, a former Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker, was repatriated to Thunder Bay and Wally was an integral part of the group that made this happen. As a result of the hard work and dedication of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society, of which Wally is Vice President, Thunder Bay's maritime history has been preserved for local residents and tourists to enjoy.

Wally's charitable contributions also extend to his business.  A sea chest is available at Wally's Dive Shop for making donations to local foodbanks.  Anyone who places a non-perishable item in the chest gets a discount for their purchase at the Dive Shop.

Wally's commitment and dedication to the Kiwanis Club of Westfort, the local sports community and his contribution towards preserving the maritime history of Thunder Bay deserves to be recognised.

Katherine Poulin

Katherine has been a Hospice Northwest volunteer for the last 12 years.  Throughout the years, she has worked tirelessly for the aging and elderly community, especially those in Long Term Care Homes. She has supported a total of 44 clients and has brought them the gift of companionship and presence, having conversations about her clients' fears and struggles and being there for them in their last stages of life.

Katherine is one of many Hospice Northwest volunteers who go above and beyond for their clients and for their families as well. As a Grief and Bereavement volunteer, Katherine facilitated Hearts and Hope Grief Support Groups for 3 years. Here she led group activities and provided a listening ear to those experiencing grief and helping them to heal and thrive despite their sadness.

Therapeutic Touch is a technique often included in alternative medicine in which the practitioner passes his or her hands over the body of the person being treated, inducing relaxation, reducing pain and promoting healing and Katherine is a seasoned practitioner at the highest level. She has provided relief to countless people without the use of medication or painful procedures.

At community events Katherine has always been a reliable assistant. At events like Die-alogues (community-based conversations about death and dying) and Hike for Hospice (a Nation-wide remembrance hike) she has facilitated table discussions and generally lent a pair of helping hands wherever it was needed.

Katherine is a volunteer that truly stands out and the staff at Hospice Northwest feel blessed to be able to work with her.

The Road Worn Chaps

The Road Worn Chaps are a band of musicians consisting of John Olynick on Guitar and Lead, Lyn Smithers on Vocals and Ukulele, Ron Fossum on Drums and Vocals, Burt Holowka on the Mandolin and Syd Turner on Bass Guitar. They play a variety of music, covering musicians from many genres and decades.

This gifted group of musicians have been sharing their talents at the St. Joseph's Care Group with the seniors living in the PR Cook Apartments, Bethammi Nursing Home and the Manor House Day Program for people living with dementia for over 10 years.

Music is a universal language that everyone can understand and enjoy.  Residents living in assisted living apartments or long-term care homes may not otherwise have the opportunity to watch and enjoy live music without the dedication and commitment of these musicians.

They are described as an 'exemplary band of volunteers that play with passion and enthusiasm.' For the residents of the various homes music is therapeutic, relieving boredom, motivating movement, rekindling positive memories, encouraging happy thoughts and promoting social interaction and a sense of community.

When the band is entertaining, the residents can be seen dancing, laughing and truly enjoying themselves in a social, fun environment with the laughter and music bringing people together and helping to develop long-term friendships.

The Road Worn Chaps should be recognized for the gift of time they share so freely with seniors in our community. Their dedication and commitment to their volunteer work within the Care Homes has been second to none. 

Kyle Shaen

The Thunder Bay Health Sciences Foundation is the fundraising arm of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Their mission is, in their own words,' to inspire the people of Northwestern Ontario to give generously to advance our health care at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). '

Kyle, the current Health Sciences Foundation Board Chair, has dedicated countless hours to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation for over 10 years.

During integration in 2008 Kyle acted as the lead organizer for the Freedom 55 Celebrity Golf Classic which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve Cancer care. From there he went on to Chair the Gift Planning Subcommittee in 2009 and joined the Board of Directors in 2010.  Subsequently, Kyle joined the Finance and Audit Committee for several years, eventually becoming Chair.

Through his volunteer work with the Health Sciences Foundation he has been a great liaison with the wider community which made him an easy selection to be the current Board Chair as of 2018.

Kyle's dedication to the Health Sciences Foundation has impacted our community through helping to raise money for better healthcare in Northwestern Ontario and by helping put the tools needed in the hands of our medical professionals.

Reta Stoger

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition (CLE) is a Not For Profit Organization administered by a Volunteer Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for the Annual Summer Family Fair as well as The Spring Home and Garden Show. These events are two of the largest events in Northwestern Ontario.

From 1999 until the present day, Reta has been a Volunteer Director at the CLE, holding the positions of President, Fair Chair and is currently the Vice President of Agriculture. She also holds the title of Chair of the CLE Midway Concessions Committee and sits on a variety of sub-committees.  Reta has spent countless hours coordinating and overseeing committee programs and has hosted the Home and Garden Show Exhibitors Reception.

Reta has missed very few Board meetings over the years, despite the fact that she drives the furthest to reach the CLE grounds.  She is happy to bring luncheons and baking to staff at CLE events, often shopping for items required by the committees, preparing Board Meeting dinners and decorating for events.

As well as volunteering many hours to the smooth running of the CLE, Reta has dedicated much of her time to other causes.  She can be found selling raffle tickets at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, knitting hand cosies for residents of Roseview Manor Care Home and knitting children's mitts and socks for donation to the Christmas Cheer Campaign.

The Canadian Lakehead Exhibition and the community of Thunder Bay as a whole benefits from the many hours Reta has selflessly dedicated. 

Tarbutt Street Soccer

Tarbutt Street Soccer has been running in the Westfort community for 40 years.

Since 2000 Daryl Erven, Bert Watts and Mark Mitchell have been volunteers for the league and in 2006 Daryl took over from his father and the three have been running the league together ever since.

The league has 200 kids ranging from JK to Grade 5 registered every spring and despite the low registration cost, the kids have a soccer game for half an hour twice a week for 6 weeks. Daryl, Bert and Mark are present at every game on Monday and Tuesday evenings from the beginning of May until mid-June.  At the end of the season they organise a half-day wind-up tournament and barbeque called 'The Big Feed' for all the players and their families with hot-dogs, drinks and treats.

Daryl, Bert and Mark take the league very seriously and are dedicated  to seeing the kids have a good time as their number one priority is that the kids have fun. The administration side of the league is their responsibility too. They make up the teams and schedules, order t-shirts for all of the players, set up and take down the nets at each game and much more. Recently they have created a facebook page and post and update it on a regular basis. If an issue arises within the league Daryl, Bert and Mark handle it with professionalism and respect.

As is apparent on the faces of the players and their families, everybody involved loves the league. This year will be Daryl, Bert and Mark's 15th year running Tarbutt Street Soccer with no intention of stopping any time soon and the Thunder Bay community is a better place because of it. 

Courtney Wall

Superintendent Courtney Wall has volunteered with the Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps since 2005.  She joined the Corps as a Cadet and worked her way up through the ranks over the years to hold this important position and she proudly wears her uniform.

As a Cadet, Courtney represented the Police Youth Corps at many Thunder Bay community events assisting with security, directing traffic and making appearances at formal gatherings. The Mayor's Walk, the Terry Fox Run, the Remembrance Day Parade and the Thunder Bay Police Memorial are just a few that she took part in.

For a short time Courtney had to leave the Corps to pursue her career goals but then once employed, she returned to begin teaching the skills and passing on the knowledge she had accrued as a Cadet to the new recruits. She gives of herself each Wednesday evening and many weekends, supervising and mentoring. She has a special relationship with the new members and they, in return, respect her and enjoy her teaching style.

Courtney is a valued member of the Thunder Bay Police Corps and a well-respected member of the community. Her countless volunteer contributions have been invaluable to the Corps and she has demonstrated the value the program offers to Thunder Bay youth by returning as a Superintendent and paying it forward.

2020 Youth

Juliet Elliott 

Juliet has, since 2013, proved herself to be a committed volunteer, dedicated to a variety of associations and causes. To date she has earned 1144 community service hours inside and outside of the school environment.

As a competitive cheerleading coach and fundraising coordinator for Thunder Cheer Elite, Juliet has volunteered over 400 hours planning, choreographing and teaching routines to children aged 4-13 as well as being responsible for the fees and records of each athlete and for the club as a whole. In her role as fundraising coordinator Juliet is responsible for the planning and running of each of the club's fundraising activities.

Juliet volunteered for the North Western Ontario Students Secondary Schools Association Executive (NWOSSSA) during her grade 10 and 11 years. This involved encouraging youth participation and attending monthly cabinet meetings leading up to the annual conference where she was responsible for leading delegates, cleaning and preparing activities and motivating participants.

The George Jeffery Children's Treatment Centre has been the recipient of over 100 volunteer hours from Juliet which has included her assisting with summer camps, helping with their golf tournament and aiding workers with taking care of patients whilst they have participated  in various activities.  Juliet has been involved with the Soapbox Derby, driving the soapbox cars with the children, taking part in the organization and running of the event and acting as an ambassador, encouraging participation and promotion.

Within the school environment Juliet has been the President of the Hammarskjold High School Natural Helper Group and a leader for the annual Kingfisher Leadership Retreat. Juliet has represented Hammarskjold in competitions as a member of the math club and as a member of the Hammarskjold Drama Club, she has volunteered and performed in the ensemble.  Juliet's dedication to service has also seen her attending school early to assist with Breakfast Club and spending time volunteering as a Bingo Helper at North McIntyre Recreation Centre.

Juliet has proven to be a remarkable young person and role model for youth. 

Taylor Anne Gorrie 

Taylor had a tough time in elementary school, experiencing verbal and physical bullying which resulted in her breaking a kneecap and growth plate and now suffering from Stage 3 Chronic Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

But from her traumatic experiences Taylor decided to build something positive when she transferred to Kingsway Park Public School in 2016 where she and her mother designed and launched a program called Safe Zone. With the assistance of the third year Child and Youth Care Students at Confederation College, Taylor hosted a Pep Rally at Kingsway School to promote Safe Zone and make other students aware of this drop-in support program for children who have fallen victim to bullying. It involves restorative justice practices and peer-to-peer counselling.  As a result of this initiative, Taylor spoke at a Provincial conference for child and youth workers in Thunder Bay and in 2019 she received the annual Bullying Ends Here award.

Taylor is well-known in our community as 'Taylorpedia', a social enterprise, exploring the city on a mission to find Thunder Bay's best kid-friendly establishments. Taylor explained that starting Taylorpedia helped her to build her confidence and get over her fears.  She looks for establishments that are welcoming to children on different levels and awards certificates to those who are doing a good job.

Taylor's volunteer work and achievements have benefitted every school student in our city impacted by bullying. She is currently working on a business plan for all the School Boards in Thunder Bay to show the positive effects of Safe Zone with a plan to implement the program in every school in the community and she doesn't plan on quitting until it is achieved.

Quinn Leschuk 

From an early age Quinn has been giving back to his community.

The Children's Aid Society have greatly benefited from Quinn's dedication to the Team Unbreakable Program, which is a mood based, learn to run program for youth in need. He has been a running mentor and coach for 3 years, using his positive attitude to encourage runners, youth and adults alike. 

At the Children's Aid Society All Staff Meeting, Quinn spoke with eloquence and ease about his shyness and fear of speaking in large groups and the impact running has had on his confidence.  He was asked to speak at a press conference organised by CAS where he spoke articulately about the benefits of the program and was subsequently appointed Team Unbreakable Spokesperson.

On top of this, Quinn has volunteered many hours to taking part in loading hampers for families that CAS serve, preparing back packs for children and youth in need and helped deliver Christmas presents to remote locations. His local community has also benefitted from his participation in his neighbourhood park spring clean up, assisting in painting in his local church and volunteering over 100 hours with the City of Thunder Bay's Adventure Camps.

Quinn has been an Honor Roll student throughout his school career and won the Grade 8 Overall Highest Academic Achievement Bronze Award. His academic achievements also include participating in the Caribou Math Contest in 2016, the Grade 10 Math Contest in 2019 and taking leadership training at the Founders Museum.

Sport has been a major part of Quinn's life so far with him playing 7 years of competitive soccer, winning tournaments in Canada and the USA and receiving the coaches' award twice. Quinn has also represented Thunder Bay Squash Club in many tournaments winning silver and gold.

Taking part in and placing well in many running races and winning the Boys Doubles Grade 9 Tennis and Badminton competitions for St Patrick High School has made him an inspiration to other aspiring athletes.

Quinn never forgets who he is there to serve. Respect, compassion and gratitude are at the core of this young man's life. 

Evan Owen 

The Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps' motto is 'Lead by Example'.  For the last 3 years Staff Sergeant Evan Owen has been doing just that.

The Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps' main goal is to prepare youth for community involvement and promote good citizenship.  Evan has volunteered over 100 hours of his time with the Youth Corps, supervising Cadets each Wednesday evening, having them form up, inspecting their uniforms and assisting them in drill. He also participates in all Police Youth Corps community volunteer events with dedication and enthusiasm for the position he holds. Evan has participated in the Thunder Bay Police Memorial Service which, each year, honours the fallen officers who have given their lives to protect and serve communities across Canada.

As part of the Police Youth Corps, Evan has shown his commitment to the community by volunteering his time for many events. He and the other members of the Corps are often seen providing security and directing traffic at public gatherings and generally being a reassuring presence for community members.

Evan also shows his community spirit by helping with the Military Family Resource Centre's Annual Craft and Yard Sale, and volunteering at the Kinette's Bunny Breakfast at Easter to fundraise for various deserving charities.

Evan is a valued member of the Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps. The Cadets and the leaders feel very fortunate to have him involved, not only for his dedication to making each Wednesday evening an enjoyable experience for the Cadets, but also for his many hours of volunteer contributions to our city. 

Paige Parry 

Paige has been offering her time as a Community Friend Volunteer for Wesway since October 2017.

Wesway provides respite services to people of all ages and disabilities. The responsibilities of ongoing 24-hour care can be stressful and relentless and the role of Community Friend Volunteer can be essential in sustaining the health and stability of a family.  Caregivers need a chance to 'recharge their batteries' and the individual being cared for gets the opportunity to socialise, develop new relationships and gain or maintain as much independence as possible. Many Community Friend Volunteers have described their volunteer experience as rewarding and life enhancing.

By volunteering for Wesway, Paige has been matched with an individual who lives with her caregiver and who shares many common interests with Paige. The two usually meet once every week or two to participate in social and recreational activities that they both enjoy. The Wesway participant and Paige are close in age and so, when they get together, it is like two girlfriends having fun. They spend time shopping at the mall, playing bingo or catching a movie.

Paige has been described as a great volunteer, funny, always laughing and joking and a blast to hang out with.  The participant explained that she always looks forward to seeing Paige and receiving a text to meet up is very exciting.

Paige is helping the participant enjoy meaningful activities in our community and allowing the caregiver to receive a true break and the rest she deserves, as she is safe in the knowledge that  that her loved one is happy and having fun. 

Jamie Pauluzzo-Thom 

Over her 4 years of high school, Jamie has accumulated over 870 volunteer hours.

Since November 2013, Jamie has been a dedicated member of St. John Ambulance and during this time, was put in charge of co-running a youth unit for a year.  This enabled her to be responsible for creating activities that would teach first aid, leadership and responsibility to youth members and create lesson plans to teach specific life-saving skills.  Furthermore, because of her length of service with St. John Ambulance Youth Program, she is now an active member of the Medical First Aid Responder Program.

At school, Jamie has been involved with the Natural Helper Program, a peer led group established to provide assistance to other students within the school. She has also been a member of the Common Bonds Club, a student-led social justice organisation.  Jamie has spent many hours working in a team setting, organizing and implementing fundraising activities and service projects to help those in need, both in the school and the community. These initiatives have included Clothing Drives, Christmas Cheer Collection, Pancake Breakfasts, ThinkFasts, Catholic Leadership Days and various WE Movement actions.

For 11 years Jamie has been a part of Le Stelle Alpine Italian Dance Group. It is within this group that she has learned to embrace her cultural dance customs, as well as passing on and teaching those customs to youth in the community whilst exhibiting a positive female leadership role. Jamie has also volunteered with the North Western Ontario Secondary Schools Students Association (NWOSSSA) which has given her the opportunity to both teach and challenge her peers to become leaders within their schools and community.

Working with the City of Thunder Bay at both Adventure Camp and Summer in the Parks, Jamie has spent time with the youth of the community and impacted them in a positive manner. Jamie is a leader among her peers and a positive youth ambassador in both the school and community environments.

Cameron Picard 

Cameron is someone who has shown a long-standing commitment to helping children with disabilities experience life to the full.

In particular, Cameron, for over 5 years between 2012 and 2017, volunteered with blind and visually impaired children, supporting them with their daily activities at their homes, in the community and on the ski trails.

Also volunteering as a ski guide for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder between 2016 and 2018, Cameron has helped many children in need to participate to the best of their ability on the trails. Helping with all aspects of the Adaptive Ski Program, Cameron prepared activities, waxed skis, organized equipment, took part in kitchen duties and cleaned up to ensure the participants enjoyed a rich and meaningful experience.

As a helper at Presbyterian Church Camp between 2017 and 2018, Cameron supported many children with a variety of challenges with patience, kindness and a quiet, steady insistence that everybody gets to take part and have fun.

Cameron continues to demonstrate a commitment to helping others by taking on a leadership role within the last two years in the Northwestern Ontario Secondary Schools Student Organization, most recently as Spirit Director, planning and delivering activities which promote inclusion and co-operation. He is also now employed as a support worker with a visually impaired individual with whom he volunteered in the past.

Through his volunteer service with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Lappe Nordic Adaptive Ski Program and as a Presbyterian Church Summer Camp Counsellor, Cameron has created kinder, more inclusive communities where every child belongs and can succeed.  He is truly a role model for others. 

Ebban Pudden 

t only 13 years of age, Ebban has demonstrated that he is a clear leader.  Since 2017 Ebban has served as a Cadet in the Youth Unit of St. John Ambulance and is truly looked upon by his fellow Cadets as a mentor.

Ebban has gained valuable skills within the Youth Unit, completing his certificate in Babysitting Basics, Emergency First Aid and Standard First Aid Level C with CPR and AED. He has also been an active participant in the Under 14 Youth Competition Team, taking part in the Regional Competition for two years in a row.  If his team succeeds well enough at the local level he will enthusiastically lead his team in competing against other St. John Ambulance branches at the Provincial Competition.

In 2019, Ebban also volunteered his time to help out at the St. John Ambulance Annual Summer Camp, Camp 911, which was held at the Boys and Girls Club for a special week-long event.

Ebban is remarkable in helping out in any way with various First Aid scenarios, often using his vast imagination to come up with unique situations in which the Cadets can practise their skills.  He displays a quiet, yet solid, leadership especially with the younger members or members that are not as qualified as Ebban.  He demonstrates his true commitment by constantly arriving early to help set up and organise training nights with the Youth Unit Coordinator.

Ebban is a special young man who remains positive in his approach and always keeps a determined smile on his face. 

Daytona Shaffer

When citizens, however young they are, give of their own time and energy to ensure that the people of their community are healthy, engaged and included, the whole community benefits.  The mere fact that Daytona has contributed over 1500 hours of volunteer time while maintaining a solid academic record shows that she truly cares about the people in this city.

Daytona strives to provide inclusive opportunities to a wide variety of citizens.  This is demonstrated by her over 60 hours of volunteer work as a Recreational Program Assistant at the Roseview Manor Care Home and many  volunteer hours spent as an Activity Attendant at the Teddy Bears Picnic, Life on the Waterfront, Festa Italiana and the Canada Games Complex Adventure Camp.

To date Daytona has provided over 900 hours of volunteer time to St. John Ambulance. This clearly demonstrates volunteer longevity and she is an integral part of this organization. In addition to increasing her own knowledge of first-aid and safety procedures, Daytona believes in sharing this knowledge with others in the community.  She regularly participates in meetings with other youth, contributing her ideas, energy and enthusiasm and is a leader for Cadets in the Junior Division as well as being a member of the Medical First Response Team.

Daytona has given many hours of her time as a companion to children with special needs to allow them to participate in activities that require extra supervision to keep them safe.  These included being a companion for a legally blind child at Chippewa Day Camp and Lappe Fur Traders Camp in addition to a child with autism at Lappe Nordic Ski Club March Break Camp.

Within the school community Daytona has volunteered to assist with the school musical production as front of house, was a Tour Guide for the Falcon 50 Open House and was a Greeter and Food Distributer for the Google Summit.

Daytona has demonstrated, many times over, an inclusive attitude which extends both within the school community and the larger community of Thunder Bay. 

Harasees Singh

As a student in the International Baccalaureate program at Superior CVI,  Harasees has been exposed to a rigorous academic course of study, as students in this program work beyond the national curriculum. Not only has Harasees consistently demonstrated academic excellence but has also selflessly dedicated his time to the service of his school and community in addition to his involvement in extra-curricular sports, competing in badminton at the provincial level.

Harasees is incredibly passionate about multiculturalism, equity, inclusiveness and social justice and he has found his niche in his involvement in the Regional Multicultural Youth Council. Harasees is currently serving as the RMYC Co-President and represents the Youth Council on several advisory committees, focus groups and community consultations. He has been actively involved in creating the RMYC Student Working Group that monitors the implementation of Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy and the Accepting Schools Act to make schools more accepting, welcoming and inclusive.  He has organized and facilitated youth forums, attended the Students Commission of Canada National Youth Policy Conference in Toronto and presented the RMYC's initiatives to enhance the wellness, safety and achievement of indigenous boarding students, racialized and minority children and youth.

With the RMYC Harasees has been a youth leader and peer mentor for thirteen First Nations high school students from remote northern reserves and was a part of the youth out-reach team to Pays Plat First Nation for a cultural exchange program. He has also created a peer tutoring program and spent many hours creating and updating the RMYC website.

Outside of the RMYC Harasees has worked tirelessly toward educating youth in the area of financial literacy through the Superior Investments Initiative and has also been involved in the Relay for Life, helping to raise over $40 000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Within the school community Harasees has been involved in student government at Superior CVI and prior to that, Sir Winston Churchill CVI.  At present Harasees is serving as Co-President of the Student Government Executive.  He has also played key roles in organizing several initiatives associated with the IB program, including spearheading the WE Scare Hunger Campaign and most recently in IB orientation events for incoming students.

Harasees is an incredibly mature and sensitive young man, who consistently demonstrates qualities and attributes not often shown at his age.

Marcel Bradley Smith

To say that Marcel is committed to his involvement with St. John Ambulance, where he has volunteered over 1500 hours of his time over the last 7 years, is an understatement.

Brad began his time with St. John Ambulance as a Youth Cadet, progressed his skills to an Adult Standard First Aider and is now part of the Medical First Responder Team, trained in basic life support. Brad has consistently attended training, youth orientations and weekly meetings and has partaken in First Responder duty shifts in various parts of the city including volunteering at the health station at the annual CLE.

Brad was fully involved in assisting with the Pikangikum evacuation in Thunder Bay, helping to assess and triage the citizens arriving and not least, providing a welcoming face for people who were facing the uncertainty of displacement.

As evidenced by the large number of hours dedicated to St. John Ambulance, continuing to this day, Brad has demonstrated his loyalty to the program and his desire to increase his skill level through continued involvement. He has proven himself to be an excellent teacher, sharing his medical knowledge with both his peers and other community members, giving them the opportunity to learn preventative measures and what to do in case of an emergency which, in turn, can help to save lives.

Outside of the St. John Ambulance, Brad is an enthusiastic volunteer for other school and community programs.  As part of the Hammarskjold Breakfast Club, Brad has helped with preparation, serving and cleanup.  As an assistant with the St. Paul's Anglican Church Summer Program in 2018, Brad supervised the children and helped organize activity stations and his continued community involvement includes the time he gives to the Roseview Manor Care Home as a Recreational Assistant.

Brad's active participation in St. John Ambulance has inspired him to apply for the Paramedic Program in his post-secondary studies, so that he may become a full-fledged member of a First Responder Team and continue to help others in need.

2019 Awards

2019 Citizens of Exceptional Achievement Award Winners

Volunteer contributions for the 2018 calendar year.

2019 Spirit of Thunder Bay

Stephanie Ash 
Focused on children and business organizations, Stephanie has served as President of the George Jeffrey Children's Centre for many years, enriching children's lives.  She represented Northern Ontario on the Board of the Ontario Association of Children's Rehabilitation Services, sharing issues affecting children and ensuring the North is a priority. Stephanie, as a Board Member of the Innovation Centre, assists in inspiring innovative ideas across Northwestern Ontario and as Secretary of the Northern Ontario Angels, she assists in connecting entrepreneurs with Angel investors. She has promoted and hosted numerous philanthropic programs to assist impoverished families.  Stephanie is a long-standing volunteer leader on the front line in the community. 
Bill Bragnelo 
For over 20 years, the less fortunate in our community have benefited from Bill's dedication and efforts. Bill has directly organized and prepared various meals at both the Knights of Columbus Centre and the Dew Drop Inn. His fundraising efforts for the Dew Drop Inn, the Food Bank and Knights charities have included organizing and coordinating the Knights of Columbus All Council Annual Food Drive, a two-bit auction and a 50/50 draw.  Bill has also been actively involved with Kairos, the Children's Aid Society, the U18 World Baseball Classic and Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling.  He is also an active member of St Agnes Church.  Many people in Thunder Bay have benefited from Bill Bragnalo's volunteerism. 
Joan Cameron 
For over 40 years, Joan has worked tirelessly for the Legion and the Air and Sea Cadets.  She was Chair of the Legion Poppy Campaign, raising funds to assist veterans and their families.  Donations from the poppy campaign have also assisted various organisations in the city, including the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.  Joan's work with the Air and Sea Cadets has involved administration, registration and tag days. Volunteering with these organisations, Joan assists in shaping youth to become better people. 
Elvira Adele Dustin 
For over 58 years, Elvira has shown strong leadership, dedication and professionalism in all of her undertakings.  She has volunteered with Magnus Theatre, the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame and the Mother's Day Chrones and Colitis Fundraiser. She has assisted with the socialization and development of children through Y.B.C Bowling as well as encouraging physical health for older adults through slow-pitch bowling. Elvira has co-ordinated the Slovak Legion Poppy Campaign, been a driver to take patients to cancer care appointments and has been involved in both the Organ Donor Charity Race and the Fire Fighters' Ten Mile Road Race.  Elvira was inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame for winning the World's Mixed Team Five-Pin Bowling - 1955.  Elvira believes volunteering is a service important to the community and the community is lucky to have her gifts of time and energy. 
Mary Garbutt 
Mary has been an active volunteer with the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, assisting in various activities, events and groups including the library, kitchen and main office.  Over the years, she has taken on leadership roles, serving in various capacities on the Board, including President, for both the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre and the Centre’s Food Board of Directors.  As a volunteer, she has been managing the Harvest Craft Market which has become one of the largest craft shows in Thunder Bay.  Mary meets with vendors, organizes the events set up and take down and coordinates the volunteers for the one of the Centre’s biggest events.  Mary also gives time to Branch 5 Legion and their Poppy Fund.  Mary's leadership and determination help to make a difference within the community.  She is an example of how impactful volunteer service can be in our community.   
Sandra Hastie-Black 
Sandie has been involved with the St. John Ambulance Medical First Response Unit for 15 years and she has been an integral part of maintaining the leadership and quality that makes up the unit. As a Coordinator she guided young community members in learning first aid and team leadership.  Sandie has been instrumental in the initiation, development and delivery of St. John Ambulance annual camp '911: First Responders Youth Summer Camp'.  Sandie ensures that youth receive their Emergency First Aid, Standard First Aid and Babysitting certificates as needed. Sandie is clearly a St. John Ambulance ambassador.  Her dedication and leadership are an inspiration and St. John Ambulance is lucky to have her as a dedicated part of their volunteer team. 
Michael Nitz 
Michael has been a volunteer for various organizations since 2001.  He was an Executive Board Member and Campaign Chairman with the United Way of Thunder Bay, leading in the fundraising of over            $5 million dollars to support over 63 programs.  Michael founded the 'Thunder Bay 100 People Who Care' initiative which raised $20 000 in the first year, to support grassroots organizations.  He co-created SHIFT: Thunder Bay Young Professional Network, is the Founding President of the Young Professional Network of Ontario and has served as President of the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre and is Chair and Board Member of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.  Michael has been actively assisting entrepreneurs to start and grow - providing for a strong business community in the city. 
Barry Pauluk 
Barry has, through volunteering, contributed to supporting families and individuals in their times of need.  Whilst volunteering with the Lakehead Search and Rescue Unit, (LSRU) Barry served as the organization's President, trained new volunteers and led team searches. While heading their Fundraising Committee Barry helped to raise more than $150 000 to purchase equipment and resources for the LSRU.  Barry also dedicates much of his time to the Alzheimer’s Society being involved in various events, including providing education sessions to many organizations in Thunder Bay.   He was an integral part of fundraising efforts to bring Operation Life Saver International: a program providing monitoring and tracking of individuals, primarily those with Autism, Alzheimer’s Disease and/or Dementia, to Thunder Bay.  Barry has dedicated his time and energy to keeping our community safe. 
Lynne Peters 
For more than 30 years, Lynne's volunteer contribution to organizations in both the sport and the cultural life of Thunder Bay has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to improving the lives of children and senior citizens.  She has worked to develop policies at Kairos serving at-risk youth and contributed to the Boys and Girls Club, the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, the 10 Mile Road Race and Magnus Theatre as well as many other sports organizations. For 23 years she has been entertaining senior citizens as a member of the Klown Big Band, the Thunder Bay Ukulele Group and the Ednelyn Trio.  Lynne demonstrates a commitment to serving both at-risk youth and the elderly and her time has made a difference to many people in our community. 
Sharon Scott 
Since the early 1990’s Sharon Scott has held many volunteer positions for various Thunder Bay organizations. The Military Family Resource Centre has benefited from Sharon's work in many programs and events and as the Royal Canadian Legion's Branch 5 Poppy Campaign Chairperson, she organizes and manages the campaign.  Sharon coordinated 'Operation Victory Lap', obtaining wheelchairs for veterans with mobility issues: allowing them to march in the Remembrance Day Ceremony.  As a member of Our Saviour's Lutheran Church, Sharon has assisted at various events and has also been a leader and teacher to the #66 Challenger Air Cadets as well as a volunteer soccer coach.  Sharon's work as a volunteer continues to positively influence those who served in the military and the citizens of Thunder Bay. 

2019 Good Citizen

Eepu Aksela 
Eepu has, for decades, used his talents for the benefit of Thunder Bay and beyond.  His community service has included singing in the Otava Male and Hilldale Church choirs, playing mandolin in the Pelimanni Orchestra and dancing in the Kiikurit Folk Dance Group. All of which have given great enjoyment at senior facilities in the city. Eepu prepares and opens the ski trails in Centennial Park and Tapiola. He is an active member of his church, assists at children's sports and acts as Santa Claus at Christmas. Eepu considers it an honour to be able to serve. 
Billy Bishop 
Billy Bishop has devoted over 50 years to volunteerism within the Naval Reserve, the Royal Canadian Legion and the community. He has guided, instructed and been a role model to many Naval Cadets.  His influence has encouraged young people to be the best version of themselves through providing excellent training, promoting sport activities, outdoor activities and recreation.  Bill also helps with the Model Railroad Association of Thunder Bay by helping build replicas and setting up demonstrations. Bill has willingly given of his time and talents to the betterment of the Thunder Bay community. 
Pamela and Juliano Brusadin 
Pamela and Juliano have been committed, engaged citizens of Thunder Bay for over 25 years.  They are valued volunteers with St. Joseph’s Care Group, Hogarth Riverview Manor and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Juliano has also volunteered hundreds of hours with the Knights of Columbus and Pamela with Hospice Northwest.  At Hogarth Riverview Manor Pamela and Juliano lead weekly church and spiritual services for the residents. They also provide friendship and care to residents who may not have many visitors. For over 25 years, Pamela and Juliano have been active members of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, assisting as Eucharistic Ministers, Alter Servers, Sunday School Teachers, and much more.  Pamela's work as a compassionate and caring Hospice Northwest volunteer includes assisting with 'ending of life' support and providing memory boxes to families.  Both Pamela and Juliano give of themselves without expectations and are committed to improving the quality of life of residents in long term care and in the community. 
The Christian Reformed Singers 
The Christian Reformed Singers, a group of 10-15 members, have been providing spiritual entertainment to residents of South Bridge Pinewood for over 40 dedicated years.   This group began volunteering in 1978, when they started a monthly spiritual hymn sing for the residents of the long-term care facility. That same year the group also started a monthly chapel/spiritual service.   Along with their music, they also bring home made goodies and treats for the residents to enjoy.  Their singing and spiritual services have provided enjoyment and enrichment to many residents. Their gift of time, music and song is much appreciated. 
Larry Dicks 
Larry has been a dedicated Palliative Care volunteer with Hospice Northwest since 2010. Larry offers compassion, dignity and advocacy to the clients and families that he assists through their end of life journey.  His commitment to his clients is evident through his willingness to support and facilitate their requests. He goes over and above for his clients by helping them access community services and programs.  Larry also volunteers in many long-term care facilities providing friendship, companionship and a listening ear.   Larry is truly a gift to Hospice Northwest and the Thunder Bay community. 
Rachelle Doyon 
Rachelle has been volunteering at St. Joseph’s Heritage for the past 22 years assisting staff in the laundry department.  Rachelle began her volunteer role in April 1996 and volunteers twice a week for 3 hours.  She is a hard-working individual who is reliable, dependable and always willing to lend a hand. Rachelle is very friendly, outgoing and initiates conversation with staff, residents and other volunteers at St. Joseph’s Heritage.  Rachelle’s dedication to her volunteer role is evident through her commitment. She has rarely missed a day in the many years that she has been volunteering.  When asked why she volunteers Rachelle states, “I like helping the staff and socializing with the people. I like being a part of our community.” 
Helen Fisher 
Helen’s dedication to organizations for and individuals with a brain injury has been invaluable.  Helen assists the Brain Injury Association of Thunder Bay and Area with the social leisure group and in the summer months, the community garden. She encourages, supports and facilitates individuals with a brain injury and their family members to participate in these activities. Helen is also a tremendous resource to family members by assisting to guide them through and access the community services that are available.  Helen’s contribution, commitment and inclusiveness to individuals with a brain injury and to the Thunder Bay community are valuable. 
Allison Hill 
Allison has been an integral part of Leadership Thunder Bay since graduating the program in 2007. Leadership Thunder Bay’s mission is to develop, strengthen and connect leaders to and within our community.  Allison has been active through her involvement on the Board of Directors, as well as the Alumni and Engagement Committee.   She has worked with the committee to provide ongoing opportunities for networking and to coordinate fundraising activities with the over 200 Alumni in fun and creative ways. Allison is also instrumental in the ACE (Acknowledge Community Engagement) Awards which recognize the contributions and connection of Leadership Thunder Bay Alumni to our community.   Allison has also generously given her time to numerous other organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Thunder Bay Association of Volunteer Administrators and Magnus Theatre. Allison’s positive outlook, hardworking personality, and incredible leadership skills are an asset to our community. 
Zahid (Z) Javed 
Zahid contributes an incredible amount to our community.  He is a volunteer with GenNext as a Cabinet Member, the United Way, he is on the board of Directors with SHIFT (Thunder Bay's Young Professional Network) and he assists the Muslim community of Thunder Bay as an event volunteer.  As a GenNext Cabinet Member, Zahid has assisted with coordinating the Day of Caring, which matches volunteers to various community organizations to provide help. Zahid also supports the Youth 4 Community programs which fund Recreation and Neighbourhood Hubs and youth leadership. Zahid also spearheaded MCI: Muslim Cultural Institute, which provides a space for people to network, share ideas and work together for the greater good of the community. He also finds time to volunteer for the Regional Food Distribution Association, Lakehead University Student Union Food Bank, Shelter House and more.  Zahid’s dedication and commitment to the betterment of Thunder Bay is an inspiration. 
Gerri Jessiman
Gerri’s dedication, passion and insight are invaluable to the staff and fellow volunteers in the Child Life Program at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.  Her compassion and empathy are a tremendous asset for families when their children are going through medical procedures and illness. Gerri has shown tremendous leadership in many activity areas such as assisting with preparation and supervision of playroom activities, providing support for special events, helping with escorting patients to appointments within the hospital and providing friendship to children who are feeling lonely.  As the Volunteer Service Leader, Gerri also mentors, trains, and schedules all new volunteers. Gerri is an incredible asset to the Child Life Program team and to our community.
Max Kusznier
For 12 years Max has been an outstanding volunteer with the Thunder Bay Police Youth Corps.  Max offers his time and experience as the current Deputy Commanding Officer to volunteer and teach teenagers proper dress, deportment and other cadet training requirements.  Max is well respected and a positive role model for the youth.  He supervises and volunteers at many events such as the Military Craft and Yard Sale, Kinettes Bunny Breakfast, the Police Memorial and the Polar Bear Plunge, in which, he also 'took the plunge'! Our motto is “Lead by Example” and Max exemplifies this in all that he does for the Thunder Bay Police Corps.
Sherell Loyst
As the St. John Ambulance Car Seat Safety Team Coordinator, Sherry brings enthusiasm, leadership and new ideas.  Sherry clearly has the community of Thunder Bay in mind in her quest to ensure that our community members are educated and empowered about car seat safety.  Her excitement to teach our community about car seat safety is contagious and is reflected in the expansion of our Car Seat Safety Team. Sherry ensures that our new Car Seat Volunteer Educators are comfortable in their roles or in helping at other St. John Ambulance events such as Operation Red Nose, Ladies Auxiliary Yard Sale or the Spring into Summer Trailer Draw.  Sherry is always willing to go above and beyond in her volunteer role and she continues to amaze with her unique skills and creative ideas.
Vince Mirabelli
Vince is the heart and soul of several local charities  He has been actively involved for many years with Camp Quality as a 'Camp Companion', where he is a one on one counsellor.  In 2005, Vince kick started the annual gala fundraiser 'Save a Heart Ball' for the Northern Cardiac Fund which has raised over     $430 000.  In 2009, Vince established his Paediatric Endowment Fund in support of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre's littlest patient.  Vince is also a Director on the Thunder Bay Health Sciences Foundation Board and was a past Director on the Children’s Wish Foundation.   Vince’s support of so many charitable organizations, through his leadership, care, dedication and innovation make him a true pillar in our community.
Katherine Mol
Katherine started as a young dancer with the Zorya Ukrainian Dance Association in 1999.   In 2003 she eagerly moved into an Assistance Instructor role and became Head Instructor in 2006. Katherine teaches and prepares young dancers for performances and is an excellent role model for the dancers she instructs. Her leadership and willingness to always do her best have helped the Zorya Ukrainian Dance Association grow into the successful dance group it is today. Her dedication and commitment have been evident through her many hours as a dance instructor, choreographer and dancer. Thunder Bay has been enriched by the performances of the Zorya Ukrainian Dance group.  We appreciate Katherine’s dedication and leadership.
Cecile Parry 
Cecile has been an active member of the Ladies Auxiliary, Oliver Road Community Centre for the past 13 years.  She volunteers her time at fundraising events such as the Annual Winter Carnival, Christmas Tea and Bazaar and yard sales as well as selling raffle tickets, volunteering in the canteen and donating baking. These events raise funds to purchase chairs, tables, supplies and to upgrade appliances all of which are utilized by program and event participants at the centre.
Bryan Popowich
Bryan has been involved in the Thunder Bay Minor Football Association for over 13 years, dedicating his heart, knowledge and time to children in the city, giving them a sense of belonging and acceptance.  He has generated a flag football league, enhancing skills and teamwork and giving children, who may not be comfortable with the physical side of the game, a place to play. Bryan is networking and solidifying a partnership with Minnesota's PAL's Football Association, dedicated to reducing juvenile crime and violence.  Bryan is an ambassador to all coaches in our community.  Children believe in themselves and dream of playing football in the future of because of Coach Bryan Popowich.
Jeanie Samec
Jeanie has dedicated over 14 years as a volunteer at the Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre.  She has generously given her time to the Centre and its Food Board, being involved in various committees that they oversee. As a member of the Activity and Events Committee, she takes on the role of Co-ordinator of the bi-weekly dances and the two bit auction.  Jeanie has helped to build a great team of people who are always willing to assist.  Along with many other activities, Jeanie and her husband, Harry, volunteer in the kitchen of the River Street Cafe. The organization and members of the community have benefitted from Jeanie's volunteer activities.
Thunder Bay Community Auditorium Foundation
The Thunder Bay Community Auditorium Foundation is dedicated to improving access to all Thunder Bay citizens, primarily those who, financially, have not been able to take advantage of all the benefits the Community Auditorium provides. The foundation has provided free tickets for auditorium events to youth service organizations such as the Underground Gym, Thunder Bay Boys and Girls Club, Dilico Anishinabek Family Care and Evergreen - A United Neighbourhood. The foundation has provided grants to the auditorium for capital equipment.  $50 000 dollars was given towards a new sound system which can also be used by the city for its events.  The Thunder Bay Community Auditorium Foundation has enriched the lives of many, providing access to cultural, arts and entertainment events in one of the finest concert halls in North America.
Vaslinka Tsar
Vasilinka volunteers with the Children’s Aid Society of the District of Thunder Bay.  She is always quick to offer her skills, knowledge, and time when it comes to educating new incoming volunteers and has reviewed training literature on ADHD, ADD and Autism.  She stepped up in a leadership role when asked to sit on the Volunteer Advisory Board at the Children’s Aid Society.  Vasilinka stepped into the role as a mentor to a young child as a Special Friend volunteer.  Vasilinka volunteered with a youth in the spring program, helping the youth re-acclimate to attending classes at the local high school and also providing support by role-modeling positive behaviors and skills such as self-care and cooking.  When the need arose for child care, Vasilinka stepped up by providing much needed care and relief to lone parents, as well as those attending agency adoption training, special events and foster care association activities. Vasilinka has held almost all volunteer positions that the Children’s Aid Society has to offer: from the Holiday Hamper Program to toy wrapping and administration. 
Elizabeth Tse
Elizabeth provides outstanding leadership and dedicated efforts, addressing and raising awareness of needs in home and community health care for Thunder Bay and District.  Elizabeth has been instrumental in the research and development of our sites’ telecommunication and IT needs.  Her expertise in this area has been invaluable. Additionally, Elizabeth serves as the Vice Chair of the Thunder Bay VON Community Corporation Board. 
Pauline Vranesich
Pauline volunteers in various ways for many different organizations. These include Community Living Thunder Bay and the Community Elder Abuse Committee: two volunteer roles she has had since 2000. Pauline has also been involved with the Council on Positive Aging and Thunder Bay and Area Victim Services.  Pauline has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity since 2016 beginning with the Family Selection Committee.  Since that time she has participated in fundraising, special events, contributes home baking each Wednesday and also assists at the ReStore.  Everyone that meets Pauline recognises her love for our community of Thunder Bay. She is a leader and dedicated volunteer at Habitat and has always stepped up to help when there is need of her services.  She lives the mission of Habitat for Humanity ensuring hardworking families have a safe, affordable place to live and is making a significant impact on the quality of life for families in Thunder Bay.
Andrika Warywoda
Andrika has been a volunteer with various Ukrainian community organizations in Thunder Bay for over 10 years.  She has been a volunteer dance instructor with the Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group since 2006.  Andrika shares her passion for Ukrainian culture through dance teaching technique and developing traditional and stylized Ukrainian dance choreography, preserving and passing on the traditions and folklore to the next generation of dancers.  She also supports the group in various operational aspects including editing music, developing annual photo presentations, fundraising campaigns, Folklore Festival and assisting with Chaban’s costume inventory.  She is also involved with the League of Ukrainian Canadians – Thunder Bay: a non-profit organization that engages the Ukrainian Canadian community in education, awareness and social activities to preserve Ukrainian traditions and culture.  Andrika has been involved in community events such as assisting and leading Ukrainian Easter Egg (Pysanky) demonstrations, New Year’s celebrations, Ukrainian Christmas caroling and memorial commemorations. Through the years she has been a volunteer at the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church with the youth Group and choir.  Most recently, she has been on the Church Executive as Chair of the Board, involved in various administrative and financial activities related to the church operations.  Andrika is a dedicated volunteer in Thunder Bay, touching the lives of young and old.  Her energy and passion provide a great contribution to keeping Ukrainian culture alive in Thunder Bay. 
Bill Wedgerfield
In May 2013, as a result of an infection, Bill had his left foot amputated and spent time in St. Joseph’s Hospital for rehabilitation. Once his treatment was complete he immediately signed on as a St. Joseph’s Care Group Amputee Mentor Volunteer, a role he has continued with for the past 5 years. Bill’s friendly and outgoing manner enables him to support and act as an excellent role model for others finding themselves in the same situation and his positivity works to encourage and motivate.  Bill’s involvement in the community doesn’t end with St. Joseph’s Care Group.  For over 20 years, Bill has been volunteering with St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church and “wears many hats”.  At St. Andrews, Bill is on the Parish Council, assists with wedding preparation with Evenings for Engaged Couples, assists with baptism preparation and volunteers in the kitchen at the Dew Drop Inn.  Bill can also be counted on to assist with repairs to the church as part of the Maintenance Committee.  When asked why he volunteers, Bill stated, “It’s the best job I ever had, working with the best people involved, both staff and patients.  They have become like extended family”.
Dina Wilson 
Dina has been a Peer Connections volunteer for the past 15 years.  As a volunteer, Dina helps out at the Peer Connections Program at Northwestern Ontario Peer Connections.  This program offers a drop-in for those living with a diagnosed mental illness and/or addiction challenge.  Dina has lived experience and is there to listen to, share and discuss concerns that members have.  She assists by providing options and further supports if identified. As a Peer Supporter, Dina assists Peer Connections with the day to day operations; engaging and listening to members and assisting them through their journey to recovery.  She encourages members to talk about their daily concerns or road blocks they may encounter on their journey and directs them to community organizations or Certified Peer Supporters that can help them set goals to achieve recovery.  This impacts members and helps them realize that we are all equal and recovery is possible.  Dina helps to provide connections to community resources, as well as educational, social and recreational opportunities, volunteers for the quarterly newsletter and also for community hosted Peer Connection dances. Dina is a dedicated, caring volunteer who continues to help advocate for others in the community. 

2019 Youth 

Faryn Gysen 
Faryn is the creator of Project Purse.  The basic concept of Project Purse is to encourage people to take a gently used purse and fill it with different items that they think could benefit a woman in need.  The purses are then distributed to various organizations in Thunder Bay.  Project Purse is into its fourth year and has made a real impact on women in the city. Over the past three years, Project Purse has given out a 1000 packed purses. However, Project Purse is not the only volunteer achievement that Faryn is part of.  Faryn serves lunches at Shelter House, helps to raise funds for the Salvation Army through their Christmas Kettles Campaign, packs groceries at the Superstore to raise funds for the Gathering Place and has been a participant in the Ride for Refuge. Faryn is an energetic leader, a Sports Camp Soccer Leader and Grade 7 & 8 volleyball coach.  Faryn is always willing to volunteer when it comes to helping others. 
Laura Liu 
Laura has been a volunteer for the past four years at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.  Her passion, dedication and caring nature make her ideal for the role of Service Leader for the Goodnight Program.  As part of this program, Laura visits patients on the unit providing a friendly visit and serving evening refreshments and snacks.  These visits make a huge difference to patients staying in hospital and her friendly and positive attitude lifts the spirits of all those around her. Her role also includes welcoming, training, scheduling and overseeing the volunteers in the program.  As a member of the Volunteer Advisory Council Laura attends monthly meetings providing input and feedback about the Program from a volunteer perspective. Laura is a mentor and asset to all she encounters and Thunder Bay is fortunate to have her. 
Nathan Luchies 
Nathan began his volunteer journey with St. John Ambulance as a shy eleven year old within the Youth Unit.  In the five years that he has represented the branch, he has blossomed into an enthusiastic and inquisitive young man who clearly has found his future career path in the medical services field.  Nathan is the first one to offer his time to volunteer with the Medical First Response Unit at various events throughout the city and is able to be paired with one of the senior members to shadow the process.  He continues to gain the valuable knowledge, skills and training necessary to be able to assist our community members in time of their emergency needs. During his third year with the Youth Unit, Nathan joined the local competition team, representing the Thunder Bay branch in the Ontario First Aid Competition Championship.  Nathan brought the skills and leadership qualities gained from this experience directly back to the Youth Unit and Summer Camp 911 in which he volunteered for an entire summer.   It is rare to see amazing leadership skills demonstrated so early in an individual’s development and the influence on the younger members is evident.  St. John Ambulance is fortunate to watch this young man mature within the organization and are proud of his accomplishments. 
Emily Prpic 
Emily Prpic is a Grade 12 student at Hammarskjold High School who has, through various pursuits, demonstrated what it means to be a leader in both her school and community.  Emily has also demonstrated extremely strong leadership skills with her contributions to our Long Term Care community through a new initiative called Caring Cards, bringing those living in LTC a little bit of holiday cheer.  In 2017, along with another volunteer at Pioneer Ridge, Emily started Caring Cards and they have delivered over 2500 handmade cards to LTC residents across the city so far.    At Pioneer Ridge, Emily volunteers with the Therapeutic Recreation Department motivating residents to participate in small and large recreational group programs.  Emily demonstrated tremendous leadership by initiating a new innovative program called the Winter Wonderland Fashion Show.  With assistance from the Therapeutic Recreation staff the event was a great success.  Emily has also volunteered at the Thunder Bay Public Library as part of the Readers are Leaders program. She is on the sub-executive of the Northwestern Ontario Secondary Schools Student Association where she manages food and dietary restrictions for the annual conference which focuses on leadership development.  Emily is one of the best and brightest youth volunteers in the city. 
Emily Rose Pynn 
Emily’s achievements have touched the lives of others in our community, Thunder Bay.  Emily is a very mature and compassionate student who has contributed well beyond the mandatory 40 hours of community service, and to date, has logged over 1600 volunteer hours.  She is passionate about giving back to the community by sharing her talents in dance to many young learners and has volunteered with helping to teach dance to others.  As a teacher’s helper, she focused her time on dancers who are struggling and would work with them, one on one, to get them up to speed with the other dancers. Her artistic abilities help to challenge her young dancers and motivate them to work hard and improve their skills. Emily is a leader and role model among her peers leading by example, with patience, understanding and humility.  She is on the Northwestern Ontario Secondary Schools Student Association Executive as a Student Leader and organizes community events, attends monthly meetings and promotes youth leadership to students.   To her young dance group she is a role model in how to give back to the community and her dedication and gift of time to others in our city are worthy of recognition. 
Teagan Smeltzer 
Teagan is a regular volunteer with Southbridge Roseview Long Term Care Home and has been a great help for both staff and residents.  Teagan volunteers for a variety of programs including entertainment, friendly visiting and garden help. Also, she volunteers with outings and this requires a certain set of skills and level of responsibility that Teagan possesses in abundance and her kindness and compassion are a great asset to the home and to the recreation department. Teagan has been a dedicated volunteer and can always be relied upon. 
Lindy Hope Sportak 
Lindy has spent countless hours volunteering at North End Recreation Centre as a friendly, familiar face, helping to facilitate recreational activities and maintain the centre’s reputation as a safe place to be.  Giving her time and energy to the centre, Lindy engages in conversation with others and is a role model for younger children, encouraging them to participate, to socialize and even to volunteer themselves.  Lindy is involved in the 'Readers are Leaders’ program, helping grade 3 students with reading skills. Lindy also volunteers at Chartwell Senior’s Residence, assisting with resident interaction and recreation activities and at the Thunder Bay Indigenous Centre, helping with the children's Christmas party, Community Feast and other social events.  Lindy’s culture, both indigenous and non-indigenous is very important to her and she feels that it gives her an advantage in understanding both cultures.  Her varied experiences have helped to encourage literacy, to spark inter-generational interaction and to add to the multicultural fabric of our city.  Lindy is a quiet leader within the school community, leading by example, with patience and perseverance. 
Sydney Stroud 
Sydney has contributed her time and energy for over five years volunteering as a teacher in the Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group.  Teaching a variety of ages, Sydney's classes have been as large as 16 children and as small as working with solos and duets for competition.  At a young age she has taken on responsibility and met expectations for her dancers' progress each year and comes to class organized with plans in place on what to achieve, articulating them well to her dancers.  Sydney has had training in dance curriculum to enhance her knowledge and ability with Ukrainian dance. In addition to teaching classes, Sydney is able to choreograph for large and small groups, some showcased at annual concerts, the Folklore Festival, and the Lakehead Music Festival competition. Over the years she has volunteered in many other capacities outside of Chaban including helping with cabbage roll sales at the Slovak Legion, Good Friday dinners, and spring clean up.  At Shelter House she has helped to prepare meals and has also volunteered at Haunted Fort Night, serving as an “extra” with the cast.   Considering Sydney’s busy life outside the dance hall, she is a very committed and worthy recipient of this award.  
Albany Sutherland 
Albany has been involved in Karate since she was five years old.  For the last four years, she has given back to her club by volunteering three times a week, in spite of a very busy academic and extracurricular school life.  She has maintained this commitment over the years because she wants to help others gain a sense of belonging like she did.  Albany believes that martial arts are a great way to help children be active, have fun, make friends and learn lifelong skills of discipline, respect and patience.  Albany is also an active volunteer in her school as a member of the Semi-Formal Committee, the Yearbook Committee and President of the Hammarskjold Ambassadors where she creates positive change in the school community through fundraising and awareness.  Some examples of Albany’s leadership skills and dedication include serving as Indigenous Cultural Ambassador for the City of Thunder Bay, being a Page in the Ontario Legislative Page Program and just this fall, she participated in the National and International Suicide Prevention Conference in Australia as a NAN Youth Delegate. 
Sarah Catherine Yeo
Sarah has volunteered for many organizations benefiting our community.  While in high school she earned 350 volunteer hours before graduating.  Sarah volunteers as a Standardized Patient with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre in a variety of different departments.  Sarah started with the Hospital Elder Life Program as well as the Good Night Program, bringing refreshments to patients and offering positive interaction. Currently, she volunteers in the Paediatric Department as well as the Hospital Information Desk.  Sarah enjoys her time at the hospital as her future goal is to attend medical school to become a physician.  Sarah also enjoys her volunteer experience as a tutor at the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre helping students with assignments in order to complete their General Education Diploma.  Sarah volunteers with Lakehead University’s Aboriginal Mentorship Program where she assists with and mentors future students interested in various programs and delivers course information sessions to numerous high schools.  She also volunteers for the Lakehead Pre-Medical Society, the Lakehead Association of Biology Students and the Applied Life Sciences Club which she co-founded.  Sarah has also volunteered with the Relay for Life, the Alzheimer’s Society, Northern Ontario Cancer Research Foundation and St. Vincent De Paul’s food drive.  Sarah is a committed volunteer for the City of Thunder Bay, thereby enriching the quality of life of others.
Heran Zhao
Heran has contributed greatly to the betterment of youth of all ages and backgrounds in our community.  To name a few, she is a contributing member of Student Commissions Justice Canada Youth Action Committee and the Thunder Bay Anti-Racism Incident Reporting and Referral Service Working Group.  She also volunteers for the Thunder Bay-Superior North Constituency Youth Council and Regional Multicultural Youth Council.  Our youth are our future and Heran is fully immersed in being an advocate and voice for all youth.  She possesses compassion, empathy and genuineness in her interactions with others.  This has extended to our newcomer students who look to Heran as a positive role model in their lives.  Heran has demonstrated leadership, innovation and dedication in all areas of her life: music, volunteering and academics.  She is the Founder and President of Hammarskjold’s Multicultural Club, bringing youth of all backgrounds together to plan and participate in community and school events.  Heran’s dedication to volunteering, music and academics is exceptional.  Last year, Heran addressed a group of new citizens at the Canadian Citizenship Ceremony hosted at Hammarskjold; her speech was inspirational and thoughtful. 

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