Celebrating Vancouver's most outstanding citizens

February 13 2018 Awards of Excellence awarded in recognition of the contributions that make our city a better place

Awards of Excellence

From a hereditary chief of the shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation to a group of high school students who supported accommodation for homeless people in their neighbourhood, the pride of Vancouver were honoured on February 8, 2018. The winners of the City of Vancouver Awards of Excellence were announced at a celebration hosted by Mayor Gregor Robertson and members of Vancouver City Council.

The Awards of Excellence celebrate those who make Vancouver a greener, healthier, more diverse, accessible, and prosperous city. The recipients of the awards were nominated by the public, recommended by peer review committee, and confirmed by City Council, who assessed their influence, impact, and achievements.

"Vancouver is an extraordinary city that is built upon the remarkable contributions of the people who live and work here," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "The Awards of Excellence are an important opportunity to honour people who are making a real difference within our community. Each of the award winners embodies the values that make Vancouver great and I'd like to thank all of this year's recipients for their inspiring commitment to the city."

Winners of the 2018 Vancouver Awards of Excellence

Accessible City Award

Individual: Michael Blondé

Michael Blondé has been making a difference for over a decade in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities through his volunteer involvement with motionball Marathon of Sport, a not-for-profit that introduces people to Special Olympics through integrated sports and social events. He has served as a passionate motivating force for growing the organization in Vancouver and raised thousands of dollars for the Special Olympics Foundation.

Organization: Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WIDHH) is dedicated to providing services for people in BC who face daily challenges in all aspects of their lives, including exclusion in the workforce, education, and public life due to communication barriers. Through its services and programs, WIDHH envisions an inclusive British Columbia where all Canadians – deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing – can communicate fully and freely with each other and enjoy equal access to their communities.

Civic Volunteer Award

Youth: Nushaiba Nanjiba

Nushaiba Nanjiba is a genuine community leader as exemplified by her efforts as a volunteer with numerous programs and events that promote diversity, inclusion, empowerment, and respect for the environment. The grade 11 student maintains high grades while participating and leading school activities like Link Crew, a mentorship program for new Grade 8s, and community efforts like Girls+ Got Game and Cook It Up! in the community.

Individual: Lillian Howard

Lillian Howard is a member of the Mowachaht-Muchalaht First Nation and passionate advocate for social justice and healing in Vancouver and beyond for much of her life. As founder and co-chair of key organizations, she ensures that issues important to Indigenous peoples are brought to the forefront of discussion at all levels of government and within our society. Lillian is tireless in her dedication and efforts to support the community, ensuring access to engagement, and consultation for those who may not always have had that.

Organization: West End - Coal Harbour Community Policing Centre

The West-End Coal Harbour Community Policing Centre is a community hub where staff and volunteers go to great lengths to create a safe community. Almost 200 volunteers engage in ongoing efforts to reduce street crime and disorder, and increase personal safety in the community. Some of these efforts include community outreach and patrols, graffiti removal, ongoing outreach, and hosting numerous events.

Diversity and Inclusion Award

Youth: Shivani Mysuria

UBC student Shivani Mysuria exemplifies youth leadership to the extreme. As the founder of several volunteer programs designed to welcome new Canadians and ensure that homeless, immigrant, and refugee families feel acknowledged as an important part of our community, Shivani is known for creating a warm, inclusive environment that help foster new relationships, increase understanding, and spread goodwill.

Individual: David C. Jones

David C. Jones has spent most of his multi-decade career as an entertainer, artist, film-maker, and teacher advocating for diversity and inclusion in the arts in Vancouver. Through his own work, and productions he has been involved in, David is committed to ensuring that opportunities and access are available to artists from any background and with any physical and mental ability.

Organization: PACE Society

The PACE Society aims to ensure inclusivity for everyone as an organization that provides critical support for sex workers through peer-driven education and support programs following a harm-reduction model. PACE strives to alleviate disproportionate levels of social and health concerns afflicting sex workers. In addition, PACE offers a successful Gender Self-Identification Project that helps transgender and non-binary persons legally change their names and identification markers on government issued ID, removing a critical barrier faced by these individuals.

Greenest City Leadership Award

Youth: Maggie Fong

Maggie Fong is a volunteer extraordinaire when it comes to food security and sustainability, gardening, local food, and food justice. Her involvement in school programs and with the Collingwood Neighbourhood House provides a strong youth voice in the food sustainability movement. Through participation in a variety of events, programs, panels, and conferences, Maggie is a testament to the power of youth in helping forge our society's future.

Individual: George Patrick Richard Benson

As a tireless champion of climate change adaptation and mitigation, George Benson is focused on the impacts of climate change that are sometimes hard to see, such as climate-related financial disclosures and climate change-driven population displacement. Through advocacy, research, writing, public speaking, and community involvement, George encourages and supports community members, businesses, and individuals who may not consider themselves to work in the "climate field" to take action, mitigate their emissions, and help build a more resilient city.

Organization: London Drugs

London Drugs' What's the Green Deal Program is a four-pillared approach to encouraging and fostering a more sustainable world by working with customers, staff, vendors, government, and communities to create opportunities for recycling, waste reduction, and environmentally-conscious decision-making. In 2017 over one-and-a-half million pounds of post-consumer materials were diverted from landfills as a direct result of this program.

Healthy City for All Award

Youth: Ellen Sy

Ellen Sy is a student activist, volunteer peer tutor, president of the BC Federation of Canadian Secondary Students, and passionate advocate for amplifying the student voice and equalizing the disparity of opportunity for disadvantaged youth in Vancouver and across the country. She is the founder of a national organization that matches ambitious students from low-income backgrounds with prestigious internships and has been a driving force in trying to narrow the access gap for youth.

Individual: Carole Christopher

Dr. Carole Christopher is what many would call a renaissance woman. For over three decades she has been a passionate advocate and respected leader, promoting and effecting social and economic change through her commitment to creating a world in which social, economic, and environmental justice is available to all. With a background in nutrition, Carole's ability to create an inclusive environment for people to collaborate, contribute and make meaningful connections has contributed greatly to Vancouver being a thriving, healthy city.

Organization: Local Economic Development Lab

The Local Economic Development Lab is a social innovation program that works with local initiatives to support economic and social change in the Downtown Eastside. Initiated and supported by Ecotrust Canada and RADIUS SFU, the LEDLab takes a ground up approach using local knowledge and expert skills to test and scale solutions that create an income stream for Downtown Eastside residents, and support the local community through sustainable positive economic change over time.

Mayor's Achievement Award

Youth: Marpole Students for Modular Housing

Marpole Students for Modular Housing is a group of students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School who have supported modular housing for homeless people in their neighbourhood. In doing so, they opposed concerns of some area residents and shared their belief that a diverse and supportive community is a stronger one. By encouraging community dialogue, engaging in public education, and conducting rallies, the students have offered a valuable perspective towards discussions of homelessness and inclusivity in Vancouver.

Individual: Vanessa Richards

Vanessa Richards is an artist and community engagement facilitator. Her work focuses on creativity and participatory culture as central to civic and personal well-being. 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 seven years on the City of Vancouver Black History Month Committee 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.

Organization: The Overdose Prevention Society

The Overdose Prevention Society (OPS) is a volunteer, peer-based harm reduction and overdose prevention site for drug users in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Their goal is to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in the city. As a result of their efforts hundreds of overdoses have been reversed, and their model has been recreated in almost 20 cities around British Columbia.

Canada 150+ Award of Excellence (special award for 2017)

As a hereditary chief of the shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation, Eagle Eyes, also known as Gordon August Sr., has been sharing his knowledge and experience of First Nations people, arts and culture for over 30 years in numerous volunteer roles. He has also been a passionate environmental activist. In 2017, Eagle Eye's enthusiastic participation, kind and thoughtful leadership, and generous sharing of his time and experiences were instrumental in making the City's Canada 150+ events memorable and meaningful.

Read about past Awards of Excellence winners