Mayor's Achievement Award

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

The Mayor's Achievement Award recognizes remarkable dedication to improving the quality of life for the citizens of Vancouver.  

Consideration is given to those whose achievements have also brought positive public recognition to the City.

Recipients are selected by Mayor Gregor Robertson and are not open for public nomination.

2018 recipients

Marpole Students for Modular Housing

Youth category

When members of the Marpole community expressed concern about a plan to build modular housing for homeless people in the area, a group of high school students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary researched the issue and started their own grassroots effort to show their support for the initiative. The Marpole Students for Modular Housing believe that by having tough conversations to address concerns, and discussing issues related to homelessness, that community fears about the new project can be resolved.

Recognizing that diversity brings strength to the city, the students made a cogent case for welcoming new members to the community who need housing, many of whom were already relying on a nearby church soup kitchen for meals. By encouraging community dialogue, engaging in public education efforts, and conducting rallies to demonstrate their support for the housing project, the Marpole Students for Modular Housing has been a valuable voice for inclusivity and diversity in Vancouver.

Vanessa Richards

Individual category

Vanessa Richards, born in Vancouver, is an artist and community engagement facilitator. Her work focuses on creativity and participatory culture as central to civic and personal well-being. It explores the question, “What can life become when we turn more often toward each other than away from each other?”

She is the founder and song leader for the Woodward’s Community Singers, a drop-in, no-cost, low-barrier choir, and director of Creative Together, a song based facilitation process. She volunteered for 7 years on the City of Vancouver Black History Month Citizen’s Advisory and more recently the Hogan’s Alley Working Group and has been a Big Sister. In May she began working with 312 Main, Vancouver’s new centre for Social and Economic Innovation as the Director of Community Engagement.

The Overdose Prevention Society

Organization category

Since the fall of 2016, the volunteers of the Overdose Prevention Society have aimed to reduce the number of opioid related deaths in Vancouver by providing a safe space for drug users, and providing assistance to clients in the event of an overdose. 

That simple but incredibly important goal remains and since then, the Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) has provided a harm reduction and overdose prevention site in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver that saw over 105,000 visits and recorded reversing 239 overdoses in its first year of operations thanks to its volunteers and peer-based services. 

Soon after it began with a few tables under a tent with a supply of naloxone and clean needles, OPS started receiving support from the provincial government. That enabled the continuation of its work which inspired the creation of almost 20 other sites throughout the province that have collectively reversed hundreds of overdoses.

OPS is now housed in a building on East Hastings Street, and remains unique in that it sits right next to an alley which offers privacy to clients and it provides a space for clients . 

2017 recipients

Jesse Costucci-Phillips, individual youth category

Jesse, a former foster child with Vancouver Aboriginal Children and Family Services, confronted her hurdles head on and turned her life around entirely. This strong young woman is a motivational speaker and outdoor enthusiast offering inspirational talks at the TEDxKids Youth Conference, National Youth Conferences, and mentors at-risk youth. Her resume includes guest speeches for Britannia Support Society, Rotary Club, FEAT Canada, “Indspire”, and the Big Sisters Luminary Soiree event.

As a gifted actress, Jesse worked with the IMAGI'nation collective as the lead actress in Beneath the Surface, a production about mental health and suicide awareness. She then became an ambassador and workshop director with the society, running suicide prevention workshops with youth.

She also became a youth ambassador for the Vancouver Marathon Society, having run four full marathons and seven half-marathons herself. Her passion for helping others continues with her current enrolment in the Native Indian Teacher Education Program at UBC, making a difference for the next generation.

Maxine Davis, individual category

Since 1998, Maxine has been the executive director of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation, and has taken the lead on the foundation’s outstanding commitment to compassionate HIV care. She works passionately to develop progressive approaches for improving both the health and social conditions of those living with the conditions.

Maxine takes a particular interest in the correlation of discrimination and mistreatment due to sexual orientation, gender identity, mental illness, addictions, homelessness, and poverty. Maxine oversaw the establishment of the original temporary Dr. Peter Centre and its transition to a modern facility in 2003, resulting in the day health program and 24-hour specialized nursing care facility expanding in size.

Immigrant Services Society of BC, organization category

Since it started providing services in the late 1960s, Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) welcomes newcomers of all stripes and with the most diverse needs. Innovating and retooling as required, ISSofBC aims to effectively respond to the ever-evolving needs of immigrants from different parts of the world.

ISSofBC is the largest multi-ethnic immigrant-serving agency in western Canada, serving over 25,000 clients annually through 15 offices and sites in nine communities in Metro Vancouver and Squamish. For over 45 years, ISSofBC has worked with all levels of government and numerous community partners to carry out its mission: to help immigrants build a future in Canada.

2016 recipients

Austin Wang, individual category

Austin Wang is grade 12 student who recently graduated from David Thompson Secondary.

He is passionate about sustainable energy and conducts research at UBC on the conversion of waste into electricity using bacteria. His recent projects won him the top prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the International BioGENEius competition, and the Canada-Wide Science Fair.

Aside from research, Austin is an internationally recognized composer and enjoys playing the piano. He hopes to continue his research work in Princeton this fall. 

Janine Fuller, individual category

Janine Fuller is a businessperson and writer. She is the manager of Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is best known for her role as an anti-censorship activist in the bookstore's ongoing battles with Canada Customs, which culminated in the Supreme Court of Canada case Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium v. Canada (Minister of Justice) in 2000.

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Fuller began advocating for gender equality at a young age, fighting to be allowed to start a girls' soccer team in Grade 6. She was later an employee of the Toronto Women's Bookstore, and was working there when the store was firebombed in 1983. She moved to Vancouver in 1989, taking a job at Little Sister's the following year, and became an active fundraiser and freedom of expression activist as the store was drawn into legal battles when Canada Customs regularly confiscated and impounded its shipments from publishers.

Following a diagnosis with Huntington's disease in the late 2000's, Fuller has also become an activist and speaker on issues relating to the condition.

Tradeworks Training Society, organization category

Tradeworks provides carpentry training to vulnerable individuals living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to help them rebuild their lives and find meaningful employment.  Tradeworks uses carpentry as a vehicle to assist some of Vancouver’s most deserving residents with life and employment skills.

Tradeworks also operates a social enterprise called Tradeworks Custom Products, which employs program graduates. Graduates are given an opportunity to create custom work for clients such as BC Housing, CIBC, BC Technology Industry Association, the City of Vancouver and others.

This important first work experience assists individuals in building their skills and is often the first step in their career journey.

2015 recipients

Alex Pang, individual youth category

Alex Pang has a passion for sports, particularly figure skating and basketball. The 18-year-old dual-sport athlete has medalled at both the Summer and Winter Special Olympics Games. He has won three gold medals, one for basketball, and two for figure skating.

Alex is competing as a member of the BC GRRRizzlies basketball team at the 2015 Special Olympic Summer Games. He will be strapping on his skates to compete in the 2016 Special Olympic Winter Games in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.

Alex is also an active member of the Special Olympics BC Athlete Leadership and Youth Activation Council. He lives in East Vancouver where he is a student at Churchill Secondary School.

The Mayor’s Achievement Award recognizes Alex’s athletic excellence and commitment to leadership.

Dr. William “Bill” McMichael, individual category

Dr. William McMichael is the driving force behind the 2015 Vancouver-Yokohama Golden Jubilee. As chair and project manager of the 50th anniversary celebration of this dynamic “sister-city” relationship, he has helped create an exciting program of events that promote intercultural awareness

As an active volunteer at the local, provincial, and national levels for more than 30 years, Bill has held many leadership positions. His roles have included director of the Canada-Japan Society, founder of Vancouver Mokuyokai Society, chair of the Pacific Community Resources Society, and president of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House board.

Dr. McMichael is a retired senior lecturer with the Department of Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia. He continues to focus on bringing marginalized voices to the forefront. The Mayor’s Achievement Award recognizes Bill’s contribution to the success of the 2015 Vancouver-Yokohama Golden Jubilee.

Guangzhou-Vancouver Friendship Society, organization category

Since 1984, Guangzhou-Vancouver Friendship Society has been opening doors and sharing resources between the two sister-cities.

The society’s undertakings have been impressive. For example, in pre-internet 1986, UBC Medical School doctors were linked to Guangzhou’s No 1 Hospital staff via satellite to demonstrate new surgical techniques. For the past 30 years, The Vancouver-Guangzhou Friendship has continued to facilitate the sharing of technical and professional expertise between the two cities.

The Vancouver-Guangzhou Friendship Society has established valuable, enduring relationships between hospitals, universities, sustainability organizations, high schools, businesses, port authorities, and legal associations. As well, it has coordinated sports and cultural exchanges celebrating each city’s uniqueness. And most importantly, the society has strengthened the bonds of friendship and opened new opportunities.

The Mayor's Achievement Award recognizes The Vancouver-Guangzhou Friendship Society for bringing two cities, half-a-world apart, much closer together.

2014 recipients

Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School Senior Boys Basketball Team, individual youth category

The Churchill Bulldogs are reigning Provincial Champions in one of the most competitive high school sports in BC. The basketball program at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary had humble beginnings and the journey to this year's championship took years of dedication and discipline. After a hard-fought season, the senior boys delivered a stunning victory in the Provincial finals to emerge as the best team in the province.

The Bulldogs edged Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders 67-64 in the tension-filled 4A final to capture the first senior boys’ title in school history. They were led by the 30-point performance of tournament MVP Mindy Minhas and became the first public school from Vancouver, other than four-time winner Kitsilano, to capture the title since the 1961 Magee Lions.

Led by Coach Rick Lopez, and supported by an enthusiastic community of fellow students, teachers and family members, the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs are outstanding athletes who have demonstrated great sportsmanship as this year's Senior Boys Provincial Championship Team.

Katrina Pacey, individual category

Katrina Pacey practises criminal, prison, mental health and human rights law, and is Litigation Director for Vancouver’s Pivot Legal Society.

Pacey received her law degree and a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies from the University of British Columbia. She has led Pivot’s campaign for sex workers’ rights for over 10 years. Stigmatized and maligned, sex workers from the Downtown East Side (DTES) have experienced unspeakable violence and systemic discrimination for decades.

Pacey spearheaded projects that brought sex worker safety and rights to public attention. Gaining the trust of the sex workers required that she bridge the enormous gulf between her privileged status as a feminist lawyer and DTES sex workers. Her work with Sex Workers United Against Violence led to the Supreme Court of Canada’s precedent-setting ruling supporting the group rights of all marginalized communities.

Pacey's belief in the inherent worth of all people fostered trust and then vital change. A tireless campaigner and advocate for the rights of marginalized people, she has made a tremendous impact on the lives of people not only in Vancouver but across the country.

Khalsa Diwan Society, organization category

The Khalsa Diwan Society is a pioneer Sikh society formed on July 22, 1902 and formally established in 1906. In 1908, the Society purchased and built the first Sikh Gurdwara in Canada at 1866 West 2nd Avenue in Vancouver. The Gurdwara was inaugurated on January 19, 1908. This is believed to the first Sikh Gurdwara in the whole of the American continent. This Gurdwara Sahib served the Greater Vancouver Sikh community until the new Gurdwara Sahib was established on 8000 Ross Street in South Vancouver in 1970.

The Khalsa Diwan Society has played a major role in the social and economic development of British Columbia for over a century. The society has been a pioneer in raising Sikh-related issues and getting recognition for Sikhs in Canada. The Society played a key role as a voice for justice during the Komagata Maru episode in the early 1900s and has been instrumental in marking the Komagata Maru's 100th Anniversary this year.

The society has always advocated for equal rights and continues to work to build a strong community. The Society provides services to seniors, new immigrants, youth and families, and plays an important role supporting the South Vancouver Community Policing Centre. Every year the society arranges a Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan Procession, one of the largest public celebrations in Vancouver.

The Khalsa Diwan Society continues to build interfaith, intercultural and intergenerational understanding, and is an integral part of Vancouver.