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Community Builders of the Year 2018

This year we recognized seven amazing individuals and organizations at the Community Builder of the Year Awards (CBYA) Gala. We also recognize everyday heroes through our on-going Community Builder Award program throughout the year. These names will be added permanently to our Wall of Inspiration at Ottawa City Hall in 2019.

Community Builder of the Year

The Ottawa Coalition of Community Houses is built up of a network of 15 Community Houses from across Ottawa, the Coalition was established as a platform for Community Houses to exchange information, provide mutual support for staff and volunteers, and to collaborate on projects that impact the communities served.

Community Houses are social service organizations located directly within 15 social housing neighbourhoods in Ottawa, offering barrier-free community-based programs and supports for individuals and families – especially those who experience more vulnerability due to poverty, crime and unequal access to resources. These locations have grown to be fixtures in the communities they support, helping thousands of families along the way through a broad range of programs, events, and connections. Community Houses are seen as the first point of contact for marginalized individuals, putting them in a unique position to be a pivotal resource to affect positive change in our city.

GenNext Award

Girls+ Rock Ottawa is a volunteer-run community organization that provides music-based programming to foster empowerment, inclusivity and community to girls, women, femmes, non-binary, two-spirit, and gender non-conforming folk (GWFNB2SGNC+) – all while having fun. Their flagship event is a three-day camp, during which participants learn an instrument, join a band, and showcase their achievements at a live performance.

In addition to teaching young women+ how to play instruments, they also teach other technical skills that are valuable in the music industry, but are often inaccessible to girls and gender diverse individuals: music production, concert photography, gig planning, and more.

Girls+ Rock Ottawa has started to partner with local businesses, groups and artists to expand beyond the annual camp. The programs offer an affordable, safe and inviting space for youth to pursue their passion. Organizers also appear on panels, events and other programming to discuss gender diversity and related topics in the music industry.

Poverty to Possibility Award

EcoEquitable (EE) is a small, dynamic charity and social enterprise. We support isolated newcomer women looking to develop connections with their community and increase their financial stability through sewing training.

We recognize that integration is not an overnight process. In order for newcomer women to feel comfortable in Canada, they need significant support and encouragement in a safe environment over an extended period of time.

This program seeks to create long-lasting change in our participants with increased confidence, developed personal and professional networks and pride in new skills learned.

We support our charitable programming by offering sewing services such as delegate bags, conference gifts and our own signature line of upcycled flag products.

Healthy People, Strong Communities Award

Sunny Marriner and Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre

For 18 years, Sunny Marriner has advocated for women, especially marginalized young women, who have experienced sexual violence in Ottawa. Through her work with the Sexual Assault Support Centre and more recently as Executive Director of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, Sunny has steadfastly deployed her extensive experience as a sexual assault counsellor; her knowledge, educational and research achievements; her community leadership; and her support for survivors, advocating for them relentlessly in a variety of contexts, including education, housing, social welfare, criminal proceedings, policing and law reform.

The Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC) is a proactive feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppression organization that has supported survivors of sexual violence for nearly 45 years, providing a wide array of programming to serve survivors’ diverse needs. The ORCC is committed to providing inclusive, accessible and feminist services to all women, gender-fluid, non-binary and trans survivors of violence, while also advocating for change and challenging cultural norms that perpetuate gender-based violence.

Community Impact Award

CMA Companies (CMA/MD Financial Management/Joule)

The CMA Companies include the Canadian Medical Association, as well as two subsidiaries: MD Financial Management and Joule. The CMA Companies have had a tremendous impact on the City of Ottawa. Over the past five years, they have raised more than $5.2 million for charity, including $882,000 for United Way Ottawa.

The Canadian Medical Association unites over 85,000 physicians and physicians-in-training on national health and medical matters. Formed in Quebec City in 1867, the CMA’s rich history of advocacy led to some of Canada’s most important health policy changes. As we look to the future, the CMA will focus on advocating for a healthy population and a vibrant profession.

MD has one main goal: to help Canada’s physicians achieve financial well-being. MD has more than $47 billion in assets under administration and is dedicated to serving Canada’s physicians and their families. MD provides financial products and services, the MD Family of Funds and investment counselling services through the MD Group of Companies.

Joule assists physicians in the pursuit of clinical excellence through the support of physician-led innovation, and by inspiring physician-adoption of knowledge products and innovative technologies and services. Joule’s mission is to help physicians be at their best.

Ambassador Award

Robert Morin has been a United Way Ottawa supporter, donor, volunteer and advocate for the community dating back to the beginning of the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) in 1997.

While he was a senior federal public servant at Industry Canada and Secretary General of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, he was a powerful campaign leader who guided his charitable campaigns to unprecedented heights and multiple awards. For close to 20 years, Robert has been the chair of the GCWCC Retirees portfolio responsible for the largest single account in the entire GCWCC and the greatest contributor to United Way Ottawa and Centraide Outaouais.

Some specific gold stars for Robert include how, for over five years, he has volunteered to personally telephone lapsed retiree donors. Last year this brought in over $60,000 for the GCWCC. He has emceed United Way Ottawa’s Seeing is Believing tours for many years, he has sat on the Community Cabinet and the GCWCC Cabinet, and he was the 2011 Mitchell Sharp Award recipient.

All That Kids Can Be Award

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa (BBBSO) facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower children and youth to reach their full potential. BBBSO has been serving the Ottawa community for 47 years. They began creating Big Brother friendships in 1970 and Big Sister friendships in 1973. Their programs have grown from the traditional 1:1 matches to include a variety of different programs that serve youth in both the community and schools; including Mentoring in School, Meet You In School, Go Girls, Game On and their Conversation Club for newcomer youth to Canada. In 2017, they launched the MPower program, which serves to connect youth ages 15-24 who are transitioning out of child intervention services with a supportive and dedicated adult mentor and in 2018, they will launch PRYME, a new Police Recreational Youth Mentoring Experience program. BBBSO proudly serves over 1000 youth in both the Ottawa and Renfrew County communities on an annual basis.

Changing the course of young lives changes the future of communities. A 2013 study by Boston Consulting Group determined that of those mentored through BBBS programs: 63% completed post-secondary education, 47% hold senior leadership positions and 50% are more likely to volunteer themselves.

Sharmaarke Abdullahi has helped initiate dozens of community projects, including homework clubs, youth leadership and mentoring programs, and a youth basketball league over the past seventeen years. In 2015, Sharmaarke also helped create a civic engagement campaign to inspire Canada’s Muslim Voters. He is the vice president of the Awakening Conference, all about empowering Somali youth in Ottawa. We presented Sharmaarke with a surprise award at the Awakening Conference January 13 with presenter Sarah Onyango.

Kevin Waghorn is a champion of the Carlington community. He is always one of the first people to show up when the community faces a challenge, and advocates on behalf of a strong & diverse neighbourhood for all. He manages the Alexander community rink, volunteers with the St. Elizabeth Catholic School parent council, Carlington Community Association and many local arts organizations. Presenter Gord St. Denis surprised Kevin with a Community Builder Award at the Carlington Cup shinny tournament on January 27.

Andy Sparks is a four-time Ontario University Athletics Coach of the Year and a strong mental health advocate. He has more than 120 career wins, and has led the Gee-Gees women’s basketball program to five national championship appearances. He is the founder of two competitive youth basketball leagues in the city and has been a volunteer coach for many teams at the provincial and national level. He puts the mental well-being of his athletes first. Andy became a sounding board for other coaches in the league whose players were facing mental health challenges, and he helps create a culture where winning does not sacrifice the players’ well-being. Andy Sparks received a Community Builder Award on February 17.

Elaina Martin is the founder of WestFest, one of Ottawa’s only entirely free arts and music festivals. Her policy with WestFest is to be inclusive, accessible and welcoming – specifically to LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities. Growing up, Elaina had a passion for making a difference. She would organize fundraising events for local causes, and has always been excited about giving back to her community. Since moving to Ottawa in the 1990s, she has volunteered for numerous not-for-profit boards, including Minwaashin LodgeOdawa Native Friendship CentreYouth Services Bureau of OttawaSAW GalleryOttawa FestivalsSacred Fire Productions, and Capital Pride. She has also volunteered her time for the Juno Host Committee, and the Ottawa Mission kitchen.

Aditi Sivakumar is a passionate leader and advocate for women empowerment and global health. Her volunteer work has spread across the city and beyond, affecting the lives of many people from diverse backgrounds for more than nine years. She has volunteered with Breast Cancer Action Ottawa, the Alzheimer Society of Canada, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and a few local retirement homes. To kick off National Volunteer Week, Suzanne Pinel, a member of United Way Ottawa’s recognition team, presented this incredibly deserving young woman with a Community Builder Award on Friday, April 13. Learn more about Aditi.

Andy Waterman has coached hundreds of Ottawa high school students for more than 25 years, mentoring them in sports, school and on the importance of giving back. Coach Waterman founded and is head coach of the Ottawa Phoenix Basketball Club, which provides students with opportunities in competitive sports. For this extraordinary volunteer work with youth in our city, Sarah Onyango, a member of United Way Ottawa’s recognition team presented him with a Community Builder Award by on Saturday, April 14 as part of National Volunteer WeekLearn more about Andy.

Rawlson King is a community leader and advocate in the Overbrook neighbourhood. He is president of the Overbrook Community Association, and led the organization when it organized and fundraised for a successful community musical project last year that brought together more than 120 volunteers to entertain nearly 800 people. Rawlson is also involved with the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource CentreProactive Education for All Children’s Enrichment and he is a past President of Gallery 101. Presenter Stefan Keyes surprised Rawlson with an award on Saturday, April 21 at the Overbrook Community Centre during their pancake breakfast. Learn more about Rawlson.

Calla Barnett is a dedicated and passionate advocate for Ottawa’s LGBTQ+ community. As co-founder and president of the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity (CCGSD), Calla has helped thousands of LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and supported by providing them with various programs and services. She continues to have a positive impact on the LGBTQ+ community through her every day work with the CCGSD and her constant advocacy. Thanks to Calla’s leadership, Ottawa will be home to the world’s first LGBTQ+ Museum by 2021. With the help of Jeremy Dias and presenter Derek deLouche, we surprised Calla with her Community Builder Award at a CCGSD Pride Week panel discussion on Wednesday, August 15. Learn more about Calla.

Shelley Rolland-Poruks has volunteered in every city she’s lived in since she was a child. Dedicating thousands of hours to various charities and working tirelessly as a federal employee, Shelley has become a leader, advocate and role model in the Ottawa community. Making volunteering a priority, Shelley has generously volunteered for organizations like United Way Ottawa, The YWCA of DurhamThe Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign and many more. Her passion and dedication to making Ottawa a home for all is why we were honoured to present Shelley with a Community Builder Award at the Senate of Canada this past June during National Public Service Week, with the help of Senator Vern White & the Honourable George Furey. Learn more about Shelley.

Gregory Motayne joined an agency in 2007 whose mission was the same as his own – helping at-risk youth better their lives. At the time, it was called the Eastern Ontario Youth Justice Agency, and its main focus was providing high-risk youth and young offenders with the programs and services they needed to turn their lives around. With Gregory’s guidance, this agency quickly transformed into what is now known as Youturn. Gregory’s passion for helping people has resulted in hundreds of lives changed for the better (so far!), and his work with YouTurn has been a positive force in Ottawa. Learn more about Gregory.

Marie Hackett is a dedicated local volunteer who has spent much of her life creating and maintaining groups and programs that make the world a better place. Her efforts have supported a nursing program and a primary school in Kingston, Jamaica for over 25 years. Here in Ottawa, Marie is a founding member of the Riverside Grannies, a group that raises money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, a fund supporting African grandmothers and millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Marie also coordinates the Outreach and Social Action Network, a group based out of the Riverside United Church, in its goal of building a world of justice, peace, and compassion by working together. Sarah Onyango surprised Marie with her award at the Jamaica Night fundraiser in October that Marie founded and helped plan. Learn more about Marie.

Lesia Gilbert dedicates a great deal of time and effort to organizations that improve the lives of people living in Ottawa. Notably, she has been instrumental in helping her local community association achieve new and loftier goals. Lesia has been an integral part of the Riverside South Community Association — showing her local love by serving as the Treasurer, Volunteer Coordinator, Event Coordinator, and Director. One of her greatest achievements has been distributing thousands of toys to children in need around the city through her team’s Toy Mountain campaign. Lesia received her Community Builder Award on a snowy evening in November with her community association colleagues. Learn more about Lesia.

Ali Tejpar has been a leader of many local programs and initiatives, such as the #myCanada150 Photo Exhibit. The exhibit shared inspiring stories of more than 90 Canadians from around the world with an audience of thousands during Canada 150 celebrations. Ali’s commitment to an Ottawa that reflects diversity and takes care of its communities informed his coordination of free workshops for immigrants and newcomers on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership. He also led Ottawa’s first Mayor for a Day which encourages youth of all backgrounds to engage with their community and share their ideas on how to improve the city. Ali received his award at Youth Ottawa‘s November Youth Action ShowcaseLearn more about Ali.

Brenda Richardson is a leader in the Kanata Beaverbrook Community Association. She led an update to the KBCA’s mission to strengthen its goal of making the community better. When the KBCA’s work was stalled due to a vacant Treasurer position, Brenda stepped in to make sure the Association could continue to run smoothly. When it came time to celebrate the community, she managed presentations celebrating Beaverbrook’s history for its 50th anniversary by collecting community stories to share. Brenda received her award at the CSED Unleashed conference, an event that she had a large part in organizing. Learn more about Brenda.