Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers inaugural ceremony

Governor General David Johnston hosted the inaugural presentation ceremony of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers at Rideau Hall last week, awarding the new medal to 56 Canadians in recognition of exceptional volunteer achievements across a wide range of fields.

The Medal for Volunteers is manufactured at the Royal Canadian Mint’s Ottawa facility. A circular silver medal, it has a 36-mm diameter and a suspension ring. The obverse depicts a contemporary effigy of the Sovereign with the inscription of the Canadian Royal Title and the word “CANADA” separated by two maple leaves.

The medal’s reverse indicates the ideas of caring and generosity, represented by two interlaced hearts, explained Johnston. The sunburst pattern of the rim symbolizes the time that volunteers are giving as well as their actions. The ribbon uses the viceregal colours of blue and gold, and the five gold stripes evoke the fingers of a hand, present in the Caring Canadian Award (CCA) emblem, while the deep red colour is associated with royalty.

The design was created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority and based on a concept by Darcy DeMarsico, of the Chancellery of Honours.

“I’m delighted to recognize some of Canada’s most caring individuals with the inaugural presentation of the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers,” said Johnston. “Each recipient was nominated for the medal from within their community, making this celebration a wonderful reflection of generosity across Canada during National Volunteer Week.”

As an official Canadian honour, the Medal for Volunteers incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (CCA), created in 1995 by then-governor general Roméo LeBlanc. Johnston said the medal builds on the legacy and spirit of the CCA by honouring the dedication and commitment of volunteers.

For more information about the program or to nominate an exceptional volunteer, visit


Emily A. Albert, of Greenwood, N.S.

“Over the past five years, Emily Albert has made a difference in her community through fundraising and volunteering initiatives that have helped foster opportunity and equality. She has been engaged in helping veterans, working with local food banks and food drives, assisting with holiday and Remembrance Day events, and advocating for inclusivity and greater multiculturalism as a student ambassador at Mount Saint Vincent University.”

Edith Ruth Armson, of Whitehorse, Yukon

“For more than 30 years, Edith Ruth Armson fostered the development of creativity and self-confidence through literature and theatre. She has volunteered thousands of hours with the Yukon Arts Centre as a teacher, as a mentorship program coordinator, and as a facilitator of a memoir-writing class for seniors.”

Jane M. Bachynski, of Ottawa, Ont.

“Jane Bachynski is an inspirational force in Ottawa and has greatly contributed to many child- and youth-friendly charities. She created the Borden Ladner Gervais Reads to Kids in 2003, a program to support literacy for young children. She also volunteers with United Way/Centraide Ottawa and the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa.”

James John Balfour, of Regina, Sask.

“James John Balfour is a member of the Royal Canadian Navy Naval Reserve, HMCS Queen, where he serves as chaplain and provides valuable ministry, spiritual and counselling support to military personnel. For over five years as a minister at the Broadway United Church in Regina, he performed weddings and baptisms, led funerals, counselled grieving families, helped other congregations and offered support to people who needed someone to talk to.”

John Bockstael, of Winnipeg, Man.

“In addition to being a community builder, John Bockstael has been dedicated to expanding accessibility to health care in Winnipeg for over 10 years. He is a perennial fundraiser and volunteer with St. Amant Inc., working to help those with developmental disabilities and autism, and has served as a board member and fundraiser for the Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba.”

Kenneth Bouchard, of Wakefield, Que.

“For the past 30 years, Kenneth Bouchard has played a key role in creating new segments of the Trans Canada Trail in Wakefield, Quebec, as well as throughout the province. He also helps maintain Trail sections in Gatineau Park.”

Brian Cadoret, of Lachine, Que.

“For over 40 years, Brian Cadoret has been collecting and distributing food to seniors, school children and food banks in his community through the St. Vincent de Paul Society of the Parish of the Resurrection of Our Lord. He also dedicates his time to the Lachine Hospital Foundation and the Kiwanis Club of Lakeshore Montreal.”

Richard Choquette, of Laval, Que.

“Richard Choquette is deeply committed to his community where, for over 50 years, he has dedicated himself to serving others and to inspiring young people towards becoming engaged and responsible adults. For 32 years, he demonstrated outstanding leadership as a regional representative and member of the board of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, notably encouraging youth aged 14 to 25 to achieve their Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.”

John Ernest Cox, of Ottawa, Ont.

“John Ernest Cox has managed, educated and motivated volunteers with the Canadian Executive Services Organization to create a focus on Inuit and First Nations peoples. In addition, he generously gives his time to visit with residents at several retirement homes.”

Raymond J. L. Currie, of Fort Smith, N.W.T.

“Raymond Currie is best known for his volunteer work at the Northern Life Museum. For over 40 years, he catalogued and organized the museum’s holdings, and educated the public by bringing the area’s local history to life. He has also dedicated his time to St. Joseph’s Cathedral and to Fort Smith’s ambulance service.”

Anne Du Sault, of Montréal, Que.

“Since 1990, Anne Du Sault has dedicated herself to HOPE Worldwide, an international charity geared at helping the poor and needy. As the director of HOPE’s Montréal chapter, she established partnerships with local soup kitchens and schools, and distributes food baskets and classroom supplies to underprivileged families.”

Brigitte Duchesneau, of Saint-Romuald, Que.

“For over 20 years, Brigitte Duchesneau has been giving of her time to develop culture and promote the arts. She is actively involved with Diffusion culturelle de Lévis, helping to create original programming for the organization, and played a key role in renovating L’Anglicane performance hall.”

Dale Ebert, of Prince Albert, Sask.

“Dale Ebert has helped lead many organizations assisting people with intellectual disabilities and their families, as well as victims of crime or traumatic events. With his wealth of knowledge and compassion, he has enhanced the lives of many and has helped create a better sense of community.”

Dennis Erker, of Edmonton, Alta.

“Dennis Erker is a visionary community leader who has had a profound impact on Edmonton’s arts, sports and health-care sectors, in addition to advancing the quality of life of injured members of the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, first responders and their families. His approach and unending commitment to bettering the lives of those around him embody the timeless spirit of charity and community.”

Sidney R. P. Gaudry, of Regina, Sask.

“Sidney Gaudry has volunteered for more than 35 years with various organizations, significantly enhancing the safety and well-being of those around him. His commitments include the Canadian Ski Patrol, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, the Canadian Red Cross, the Air Cadets and St. John’s Ambulance (Saskatchewan).”

Garth Hampson, of Ottawa, Ont.

“For over 50 years, Sergeant Garth Hampson has been a community leader, providing his voice and musical talents to such organizations as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the RCMP Charity Ball and the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, in addition to other community-building initiatives. His efforts have facilitated bridge-building with Aboriginal peoples throughout Canada and have supported many valuable charities and programs.”

Derrill G. Henderson, of Nepean, Ont.

“Derrill Henderson was instrumental in the creation of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association. He has dedicated over 20 years to the organization, and serves as its representative on the National Council of Veterans Associations. He also volunteered as a member of the Memorial Wall Committee for eight years, helping to create a memorial for those who lost their lives in the Battle of Hong Kong.”

Jorden Hill, of Winnipeg, Man.

“Throughout his high school years, Jorden Hill took it upon himself, with the assistance of a school teacher, to plan and execute his school and community Remembrance Day services. He has also volunteered with elementary schools during science and heritage fairs and other school activities, as well as with a variety of organizations in his community, namely Winnipeg Harvest, a non-profit, community-based organization that is a food distribution and training centre.”

James Malcolm Hovey, of Hampton, N.B.

“James Hovey has been volunteering to help with different causes and projects for over 30 years. Notably, he played an instrumental role in the creation of a community theatre in Hampton.  Since his retirement in 2008 from the position of mayor, he has volunteered on the town’s health care and public works advisory committees.”

Alexa Ilag, of Winnipeg, Man.

“Throughout her high school years, Alexa Ilag organized groups of students to volunteer at the local food bank, encouraging youth to become more active within their community. She continues to aid with the Shine a Light Program for kids with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism; and with the help of Reality Check Dance Crew, she organized a fundraiser for the Heart and Stroke Foundation by holding a bake sale and dance battle during her grade 12 year.”

Isabelle Jasmin, of Montréal, Que.

“Since 2003, Isabelle Jasmin has been volunteering with the Centre d’hébergement Yvon-Brunet, which offers a unique and personalized support program that matches volunteers with lonely residents having difficulty adapting to living at the Centre. She offers residents comfort and support, tailors her visits by learning what makes them happy, and creates a non-judgmental atmosphere by lending an empathetic ear.”

Inge Kelly, of Ottawa, Ont.

“For more than 18 years, Inge Kelly has been providing compassionate support to patients in palliative care. She volunteers over 40 hours per week at the Ottawa Mission’s Diane Morrison Hospice and the Ruddy-Shenkman Hospice, where she provides loving care to those dying without family or home, helping them live out their final days in dignity and comfort.”

Rachel Larabie LeSieur, of Gatineau, Que.

“As a member of Centraide Outaouais’ board of directors for the past 14 years, Rachel Larabie LeSieur has been responsible for the implementation of initiatives to develop supportive and inclusive groups for the most vulnerable members of her community. L’Assemblée des Centraide du Québec and Centraide/United Way Canada have also benefited from her caring and compassionate nature.”

Karen Lund, of Sidney, B.C.

“Since 2004, Dr. Karen Lund has volunteered as the director of the nursing program at the International University of Business Agriculture and Technology (IUBAT), in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has developed the curriculum, taught nursing students, supervised local faculty, coordinated over 100 other volunteers, and is recognized as being a major influence on nursing policy.”

Kokulan Mahendiran, of Montréal, Que.

“Since high school, Kokulan Mahendiran has dedicated himself to the causes of unity, peace and cultural awareness in his community. In his teens, he started a club to help raise money for the Toronto SickKids Foundation. In university, he became actively involved in youth engagement and organized a charity gala in 2012, which brought together the various ethnic and religious communities of the Sri Lankan diaspora.”

Stefan Mayer, of Ottawa, Ont.

“For over 30 years, Stefan Mayer has dedicated more than 30 000 hours of service to the 410 Wing of the Air Force Association and to The Ottawa Hospital. It is with the hospital that his altruism is most visible: he greets patients, acts as the hospital’s unofficial photographer, and works as an internal courier and as the manager of the Riverside Campus’ audio-visual services branch.”

Farrell McCarthy, of Miramichi, N.B.

“Farrell McCarthy has devoted over 30 years of volunteer work to promoting Irish culture. He has helped establish many of the existing Irish cultural organizations, events and communications that have given rise to renewed interest in Irish traditions and lore.”

Alexander McDonald, of St. Andrews West, Ont.

“Alexander McDonald has gone above and beyond his duties as a commanding officer of the 325th Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron by encouraging involvement in extracurricular activities. He has spent hours orchestrating the biathlon team, re-establishing the band program, organizing cadet participation in Remembrance Day ceremonies, and spearheading a canoe trip campaign.”

Kenneth Miller, of Canyon, B.C.

“Kenneth Miller has been dedicating his time to many good causes and organizations, such as serving for five years on the Creston Valley Community Housing Society, where he succeeded in getting six low-rent family apartments built, doing much of the fencing and out-building construction himself. He also started the Citizens On Patrol group and served as patroller chairman of the organization.”

Signe Miller, of Canyon, B.C.

“A volunteer at heart, Signe Miller has been involved in her community for over 30 years. For the past three years, she has been a board member of the Creston-Kootenay Foundation and actively participates in ongoing activities and projects with the Canyon Community Association.”

Carol Ann Nixon, of Osgoode, Ont.

“A founding member of both the Citizens Restoring Osgoode Village Parks and the Osgoode Youth Association, Carol Ann Nixon has ensured that the community has a healthy park and that local youth have a safe place to socialize, to gain life skills and to seek out employment opportunities. In addition to her commitment to education, her fundraising and organizational work has also ensured that community music programs are available to all students and their families.”

Jagdeep Singh Perhar, of Nepean, Ont.

“A volunteer in the Indo-Canadian community for 20 years, Jagdeep Perhar is committed to fostering positive dialogue and raising inter-cultural awareness between Indo-Canadians and the rest of Canada through a variety of initiatives. He was instrumental in the creation of an annual community celebration of India’s Independence Day, which continues to raise cultural awareness.”

Winston Pitcher, of Burin Bay Arm, Nfld.

“Winston Pitcher has been a dedicated member and president of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary-Newfoundland and Labrador for over 25 years, providing search and rescue assistance to the Coast Guard. He has been instrumental in organizing first aid courses and water training sessions for members, and has been a national representative for the Auxiliary at home and abroad.”

Douglas Purdie, of North Vancouver, B.C.

“Through his dedication and devotion to such organizations as the SUCCESS Foundation, the Neil Squire Society and the Developmental Disabilities Association, Douglas Purdie has worked to promote the well-being of Canadians through the provision of social programs and resources. He has been instrumental in reducing barriers to immigrants and disabled persons, and provides social leadership.”

Sue Quon, of Edmonton, Alta.

“For the past 15 years, Dr. Sue Quon has advanced the arts in Edmonton by volunteering for multiple theatre companies. From usher to board member, she has taken on many responsibilities that have contributed to each theatre’s success and has provided innumerable opportunities to young actors.”

Patricia Randall, of Calgary, Alta.

“For more than 20 years, Patricia Randall has contributed to the development of our nation’s youth through her volunteer work. Her efforts with the Navy League Cadet Program have helped foster leadership and citizenship skills in young men and women who have gone on to become well-rounded and respected Canadians.”

Wayne Russell, of Chelsea, Que.

“For the past 43 years, Wayne Russell has contributed to the development of Canadian athletes through his volunteer work with organizations like Hockey Canada and the Chelsea Foundation, as well as with various hockey clubs as a coach. His contributions are significant to the success of Canada’s continuing achievements and growth of Canadian athletes, and have offered greater opportunities to thousands of young people across the country.”

Stan Salikin, of Kimberely, B.C.

“Stan Salikin’s commitment to his community is invaluable. He started volunteering with the Rotary Club of Kimberly in 1979, and then with the Kimberly Helping Hands Food Bank in 1993. He seeks to ensure everyone has equal access to nourishment and runs annual fundraising events like duck races, garage sales and a golf tournament.”

Norton Segal, of Hampstead, Que.

“Through his leadership and volunteer work, Norton Segal has dedicated himself to the public good. His ongoing devotion to the community knows no bounds: he has helped countless individuals and families, regardless of their racial, ethno-cultural, religious or linguistic backgrounds.”

Denny Smith, of Winnipeg, Man.

“Driven by a passion for education, writing and higher thinking, Denny Smith has been tutoring and mentoring students in Winnipeg for many years. With a personal and caring approach, he pays attention to his students’ needs and abilities, and inspires them to achieve their greatest potential.”

Martin Spencer, of Lantzville, B.C.

“For over 30 years, Dr. Martin Spencer has helped restore sight to many of the world’s poor as a long-time volunteer with Seva Canada. He has made dozens of trips at his own expense to developing countries to conduct eye surgeries, train local eye specialists and make regular vision care available to thousands.”

Joan M. Stamp, of Labrador City, N.L.

“For more than half a century, Joan Stamp has been volunteering in Labrador, starting with Brownies and Beavers, and helping transform the community in which she lives. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Twin Cities Seniors Centre over 25 years ago and is still very active today.”

Angus Stanfield, of Sooke, B.C.

“Angus Stanfield has served the Royal Canadian Legion for nearly 20 years, as president of the Sooke chapter, regional zone commander and Dominion Command first vice-president. During this time, he worked to establish Cockrell House, a transition home for homeless veterans that provides tailored housing, support services and training.”

Carol-Ann Staples, of Victoria, B.C.

“For 37 years, Carol-Ann Staples has given back to her community by volunteering with Victoria Hospice (formerly the Victoria Association for the Care of the Dying). She has dedicated countless hours to providing direct care to patients, as well as to bereavement services, spiritual care and fundraising.”

Roland Taillefer, of Laval, Que.

“Roland Taillefer has been a volunteer and board member of the Fondation du Collège Lionel-Groulx for over 10 years. A dedicated and selfless man, he provides an invaluable service as the organization’s bookkeeper and takes part in all of the foundation’s activities to benefit young people.”

Ann-Marie Tingley, of Saint John, N.B.

“Ann-Marie Tingley has devoted 35 years of volunteer service to the Canadian Association for Community Living and to the regional chapter of the Victorian Order of Nurses. Whether she is raising funds, sitting on the board of directors or simply educating the public about special needs care, she makes a difference in the lives she touches.”

Jim Trigg, of Ottawa, Ont.

“For 15 years, Jim Trigg has enabled seniors in his neighbourhood to live in their homes longer by volunteering to shovel snow, remove ice, and help with transportation and errands. He is also seen as a model volunteer with the May Court Hospice, where he uses his handyman skills to do maintenance repairs on the building.”

Gerry R. Valois, of Winnipeg, Man.

“In 2007, Gerry Valois founded Canodia, a charitable organization that works with the Centre for Children’s Happiness to help children living at the Stung Meanchey landfill in Cambodia. To date, the organization has raised enough funds to begin construction on a more permanent home for these children, all while teaching others about the value of philanthropy.”

Wilbert LeeVan Horne, of Qualicum Beach, B.C.

“Since 2004, Wilbert Lee Van Horne has been the volunteer webmaster of the BC/Yukon branch of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. He has helped expand the Society’s reach by designing an Index Armorum, a reference tool used to search for heraldic emblems.”

Monique Venne, of Mont-Laurier, Que.

“A dynamic, unassuming woman, Monique Venne has dedicated herself as president of the Club de l’âge d’or for many years. She is actively involved with numerous foundations in her community, including the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, where she has been volunteering for over 25 years.”

Colleen Westeinde, of Ottawa, Ont.

“Colleen Westeinde is a devoted community volunteer who has played an instrumental role in such organizations as St. Joe’s Women’s Centre, Soup Sisters, Ottawa Riverkeeper, and Nepean High School, particularly in its student council. She also serves as president of Children’s International Summer Villages Ottawa, and is a national committee chair of Children’s International Summer Villages Canada.”

James R. White, of Kamloops, B.C.

“For over 15 years, James White has volunteered with the Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia. Working alongside First Nations, government departments and other stakeholders, he has ensured the protection of an additional 1 397 hectares at the Dewdrop-Rosseau Creek Wildlife Management Area.”

Margarete White, of Whitehorse, Yukon

“Margarete White has given more than 25 years of volunteer service to the Yukon Curling Association and to Yukon Athletics. She is recognized for her participation as a head official, timer, event organizer and cheerleader. Her devotion and efforts have led to the success of Whitehorse’s athletic community, where she has provided local athletes with opportunities to learn and grow.”

John Wojcik, of Stellarton, N.S.

“John Wojcik has been with the cadet program for six years, contributing to the education of young men and women and creating lasting bonds with cadets in Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick. He was also active with the Legion in Nova Scotia, volunteering in his teenage years and later joining the branch, where he served as their bugler for many years.”

Richard E. Wood, of Moncton, N.B.

“A volunteer for over 30 years, Richard Wood has been a member of many organizations and community groups that have greatly impacted the quality of life in the Greater Moncton Region. He always takes a leadership role with any group that he volunteers with, and since 2006, he has been a member of the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame Inc. and volunteers his time at the car shows.”

Lingbo Yan, of Surrey, B.C.

“Lingbo Yan has helped marginalized individuals in China access better mental health services by building cross-cultural partnerships. Her untiring commitment and efforts as an interpreter have helped the Educational Medical Aid Service facilitate the exchange of skills and knowledge between Canadian and Chinese health professionals.”

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