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The Shortlisted Nominees

Nathalie Boivin

Nathalie Boivin set up the first online training program in French Canada to educate health professionals, students in the field and their instructors, about health literacy. Adult literacy is a major problem in French-speaking New Brunswick, where 68% of people over 16 do not meet minimum iteracy levels.  For Francophone seniors over 65, the rate increases to 92%, and the literacy gap has a major impact on the broad health of the francophone population in New Brunswick. Nathalie recognized that health professionals in the province did not have an understanding of the literacy needs of the francophone population. 
Nathalie engaged the community, researchers and health professionals to develop training modules that could be integrated into health education curriculum and train-the-trainer programs in New Brunswick and to the rest of the Canadian Francophonie.

« Le caractère innovateur de ce projet se situe dans sa démarche faite par et pour la clientèle des apprenants adultes. Dans ce projet, ce sont les apprenants adultes qui sont les experts de leur situation. »



Gladys Berringer

Gladys brought together many community agencies as well as local business to establish a project called “A Kitchen for our community” that provides a space for families and individuals to come together and learn about healthy food choices, and prepare food in an environment that is respectful of all people. Implemented in an area that is a “food desert” that lacks local grocery stores, this initiative addresses poverty and food security as well as life skills and a sense of belonging. Gladys initiated meetings and connections with other community agencies who work with food security issues, consulted with others, submitted proposals to secure funding and involved and listened to others as the project was shaped and developed. Gladys brought in other people from the community to help staff develop a common vision and to reflect on how we service families.

“She sometimes had to make hard decisions based on what is best for the organizations and the families we serve.”
“She is a visionary; she has the ability to see the whole picture.”


Pamela Bowes

Pamela Bowes has been addressing an often overlooked casualty of cancer and chronic illness: financial hardship. For over two decades she has been providing expert advice and assistance to those suffering financial difficulties due to chronic disease, and has focused on the needs of cancer patients since 2002.  Pamela developed the Wellspring Cancer Support Network’s Money Matters program and established the Money Matters Resource Centre to support individual cancer patients, and train social workers working in cancer centres across Ontario, in addressing the financial difficulties associated with living with and battling cancer. Pamela has also worked with a variety of organizations and advisory panels to reduce the stigma associated with financial challenges and to address the issue at a policy level.

“From the very beginning Pamela demonstrated a dogged determination and conviction that financial issues were important to cancer patients.”

“Through her work to reduce the stigma and raise the profile of the financial impact of cancer Pamela has helped thousands of men and women living with cancer cope with the devastating financial impact of their diagnosis.”

Shelly Cressy Hassel

Shelley Cressy Hassel stepped up for a part of her community which did not have a voice. Through her ASK Wellness agency, Ms. Cressy Hassel has helped the homeless population of Merritt BC, find housing and develop new skills. Merritt BC has a history of poor health statistics. In 2005 the town of Merritt was ranked the worst in overall in socio-economic indicators in the province of British Columbia. What originally started as outreach services for those working through addiction, has now become a social enterprise where youth to age 29 are trained in various skills that can then be used to assist others in their community. In addition to creating opportunities for those marginalized citizens, ASK -Wellness provides support for those living with blood-borne diseases. Since founding ASK Wellness, Merritt has experienced an improvement in health indicators.

“Shelley is passionate about her work and has focused her attention to helping those most in need in the community, treating all members of society with respect and kindness, advocating, directing them to other community supports.”

Noor Din

Noor immigrated to Canada from Pakistan in 1990. After working in the IT sector for 15 years, he made a decision to turn his energies to work that has a direct impact on the community.  He started a non-profit organization called Human Endeavour, and set up HOPE, a seniors’ wellness program that focuses on the needs of underserved ethno-racial communities.  Today, HOPE serves 600+ seniors in five York Region (Central LHIN) locations. The HOPE initiative includes evidence based research and quality validation techniques that will create an even wider impact across Ontario in the future.  Noor has a passion for creativity and a desire to engage community members to meet their needs.  His strong cultural roots have strengthened his understanding of the experiences of ethno-racial communities in the GTA.  He is able to think ‘outside the box’ and inspire others in the process. The HOPE initiative has made a contribution toward inclusion and health equity for the seniors who are served.

“He believes that all great journeys start with the first step of an individual, but as s/he makes progress in the right direction, more people step in to join and make it a caravan.”

“This rare ability to vividly imagine the flow of an initiative makes his leadership unique. However, this ability is nothing without humble recognition that solo-flights don’t circumvent the entire globe and far-reaching impacts are best possible through partnerships and collaborations.”

Joe Gallagher

Mr. Joe Gallagher is the Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations Health Society. His traditional name is Kwun-ah-men, meaning “one with a vision”.  His diplomatic leadership style has resulted in effective working relationships and ongoing high-level engagement with and amongst groups that historically did not work together.  A first for Canada, Mr. Gallagher has supported BC First Nation in the development of a comprehensive health network of Community Engagement Hubs where First Nations come together to communicate, collaborate and plan around community health and health services integration. Over four years, 175 of 203 BC First Nations have signed on to 32 community engagement hubs.  From a partnership perspective, his strong negotiation and diplomacy skills have contributed in large part to positioning BC First Nations as the first in Canada to enjoy control over health programs and service delivery.

“Mr. Gallagher’s visionary leadership has resulted in the establishment of an entire structure for First Nations health in BC over the past five years, a structure that is inclusive of the diverse roles, responsibilities, and areas of expertise in First Nations communities.“

Joyce Helmer

For 13 years, Joyce involved individuals and excited community members about the possibilities of having a Medicine Lodge in a new hospital in Sudbury.   Joyce’s vision of the Medicine Lodge replete with fire and encompassing academic and research elements has now become a reality.  The Medicine Lodge is unique and distinct in both the provision of health care and health science education and it will be pivotal as the demographics change in the urban centres and to individuals seeking culturally appropriate care. Joyce was also instrumental in leading the ground-breaking Teaching Radiology at a Distance Project with a number of partners. This initiative provides an online training program for remote First Nations communities and is captured in a variety of Aboriginal languages.   

“Joyce’s single focus and quiet persistence resulted in the Lodge as a vital entity for the Indigenous Peoples, families and communities in Northeastern Ontario.”

“All of Joyce’s efforts for many years have focused on contributing and creating a welcoming, vital and safe community for Indigenous people.”




Dale Howatt

Dale Howatt is the Executive Director of Community Support Connections-Meals on Wheels and More in Waterloo Region, Ontario. Dedicated to enabling seniors and people with disabilities live at home with independence and dignity, it is one of the largest community support services in this Region. The services offered help build and maintain the social support networks for seniors living in their own homes. Dale inspires staff, board members, volunteers and others in the community. Her commitment, work ethic, belief in the organization, its mandate and innovation makes her an inspiration that motivates others.

“She comes up with creative ideas and partnerships that no one around the table would have dreamed up and logically pursues these ideas until they become reality.”

“One of her greatest strengths is her ability to recognize the strengths of others- to ‘play to people’s strengths’”.




Linda Sibley

Linda has shown tremendous leadership in program development and strategic planning at the Addiction Services of Thames Valley (ADSTV) based in London, Ontario.  Because of Linda’s leadership, Board and staff at her organization have worked together on behalf of the changing needs of those with substance abuse or gambling addictions.  Linda takes a compassionate and inclusive approach to addictions and strives to involve clients as the true experts in their recovery.  She spearheaded the development of innovative programs for women who are pregnant or caring for young children and specialized programs for adults who are homeless.  She also helped to develop programs which clients find housing and re-integrate into the workforce.  Linda has taken risks to challenge the status quo and reduce stigma towards those with addictions.  She has helped to build knowledge by creating specialized assessment tools for admission and discharge—now the provincial standard for clients entering the addiction system.

“Throughout her career, Linda has proven time and time again that she is willing to take calculated risks for the betterment of the agency, the community, and the entire addiction field.”

“She leaves her imprint on every client she connects with through her ability to empower clients to recognize that they are the experts in their recovery, and ultimately, their own lives.”

Kelly Sexsmith

In 2006, Kelly Sexsmith - a former midwife, community activist and local community member - initiated Art on the Street, an art show for people served by Street Health Centre in Kingston, Ontario.  She is the Methadone Case Manager and has stepped beyond that to galvanize an opportunity for people affected by poverty, drug addiction and homelessness.  Kelly’s leadership has engaged artists, funders, landlords and the broader community to bring recognition to the artistic talents and gifts of clients. Art on the Street has become an annual event giving addicted and homeless people an outlet for artistic expression.  Kelly’s ability to motivate others and to build partnerships helps her community include and welcome people who are usually marginalized.

“Kelly leads from a down-to-earth, genuine and compassionate place.”

“Kelly motivated a variety of people and brought together disparate resources to make the idea a reality. She has been able to engage different social groups.”




Julie Thompson

Julie joined community Justice Initiatives in Kitchener, Ontario in 1998. Through her work there she saw a way to bring people in the community together with women who are federally incarcerated.   Using principles of restorative justice, Julie initiated the Stride program at Grand Valley Institution for Women to help develop supportive relationships between the women in prison and community members.  The Stride programs developed by Julie are the only initiatives of this kind designed for federally sentenced women in Canada.  Her approach demonstrates how prisons can establish partnerships; the benefits extend to the community beyond the walls of the prison. Community members become engaged in working towards creating a more socially just society.

“Julie has been a trailblazer in the establishment of innovative community partnerships designed to enhance community reintegration for women.”



Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams has been involved with food security issues in Nova Scotia since 2001. Nova Scotia has consistently reported rates of food insecurity higher than the Canadian national average. Through a community-driven participatory leadership model, Dr. Williams and her team have been engaging a diverse group of community, government and university partners across Nova Scotia and Canada in participatory action research on issues related to food access and local, sustainable food systems. The varying perspectives of all these partners have allowed for a deeper understanding of food security in the province and across the country.  Patricia’s leadership has led to a partnership agreement for a Community-University Research Alliance called “Activating Change Together for Community Food Security "committed to furthering collaboration, capacity building, awareness and policy change to support food security in Nova Scotia.

“Patty has focused on involving those most affected by the issue, nurturing leadership in others and fostering the development of meaningful, respectful relationships amongst all partners.”

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