Civic Merit Award

The Civic Merit Award recognizes individuals for outstanding achievement in a particular field of endeavour in sports, science, arts, or culture within the city and the province, or in recognition of a specific service.

City Council must vote unanimously to honour someone with the Civic Merit Award.

The City began awarding the Civic Merit Award in 1942. Recipients are recognized during a ceremony at Council, in which the Mayor reads a resolution on the recipient's achievements and presents the Civic Merit Medallion and a certificate of the Resolution.

Recipients 2018

Janice Abbott

CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society

Janice Abbott received the Civic Merit Award for her tireless efforts on behalf of all women and children affected by violence, particularly those traditionally marginalized by mainstream society, in her role as CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society for more than 25 years. As a result of her vision and efforts championing barrier-free and low-barrier access to programs and services, Atira has become a multi-service agency with for profit subsidiaries, a development arm and more than 500 staff.

In addition, Ms. Abbott is a fierce advocate for affordable housing and has spearheaded many capital projects that have provided solutions within an innovative social enterprise framework. She is a Governor in Council appointee to the Board of Directors of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation where she sits on the Risk and Human Resources Committee and chairs the Affordable Housing Committee. She has also been recognized with numerous other awards for her work in affordable housing and her vision as a social entrepreneur. 

Dr. Leonora (Nora) Angeles

Associate Professor, School of Community and Regional Planning and Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Program at the University of British Columbia

Dr. Leonora Angeles is recognized for her individual and collaborative efforts around the world in research, education, and capacity-building in community and international development, participatory governance and planning with an emphasis on gender analysis. As a university professor, she has expanded students’ understanding of traditional planning paradigms to include social and cultural policy within the framework of transnationalism, race and gender. She has also inspired a generation of youth to consider planning and development within the context of diversity and inclusion.

Dr. Angeles has been instrumental in advancing Philippine Studies along with increasing visibility and inspiring the voices of the Filipino community in Canada; especially marginalized Filipino youth and young Filipino-Canadian activists, academic scholars, policy makers and community organizers. She is regarded as a change maker and leader who approaches issues with empathy, persistence and enthusiasm.

Ross Beaty

Entrepreneur and founder of Sitka Foundation

Ross Beaty was bestowed with the Civic Merit Award for his many years as a steward of nature conservancy, an outspoken environmentalist and generous philanthropist. As a pioneering leader in the resource and sustainable energy sectors, Mr. Beaty has shepherded several mining and renewable energy companies to admirable success. He has been actively involved in a plethora of environmental organizations’ boards and advisory committees, including the Nature Trust of BC and the City’s Renewable City Action Team.

Mr. Beaty, along with his wife Trish, has provided millions of dollars of funding to Canadian universities, conservation efforts and nature museums as a result of his passion for environmental issues. One of his signature philanthropic acts was the establishment of the Sitka Foundation, which annually distributes $3.5 million to over 70 Canadian environmental organizations. In recognition of his outstanding leadership and efforts to preserve our environment, Mr. Beaty has been recognized with many prestigious awards including the Order of Canada.

Wayson Choy


Wayson Choy has been a significant voice in enhancing the understanding of heritage in Canada through his evocative writing, shedding light on the experiences and realities of first-generation Canadians.

Growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown provided him with lived experience of what it means to be Chinese-Canadian. His memoir, novels and short stories inspired by his childhood and cultural background have provided valuable insight, motivated expanded conversations and made important contributions to our understanding of diversity within Canada.

Mr. Choy is a member of the Order of Canada and he has been the recipient of several prestigious writing and book awards including the Trillium Book Award for both the Jade Peony and All That Matters.

Libby Davies

Politician and Social Activist 

Libby Davies has been a social activist for more than 40 years, including 30 years as an elected official (serving as a Vancouver City Councillor for five consecutive terms and Member of Parliament for Vancouver East for six consecutive terms) inspiring social change, policy reform and embodying a highly praised commitment to bettering the lives of all Canadians.

One of her early projects was as a founder of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association. Ms. Davies’ dedication to advocacy for health, human rights, housing, peace, multiculturalism and social justice has been recognized with numerous awards including the YMCA Peace Medal Award, the Canadian Public Health Association National Public Hero Award, AIDS Vancouver Red Ribbon Award and most notable she was invested to the Order of Canada earlier this year.

Patsy George 

Social Worker and Human Rights Activist

Patsy George has spent decades empowering communities as a prominent advocate for immigrant women, visible minorities, children and First Nations people.

As a Social Worker she served in many positions related to child welfare, public assistance and community development, most notably as a director of Multiculturalism BC and appointee to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Her belief in our individual responsibility to give back has motivated her extensive community involvement and leadership.

Ms. George has served as a leader with many organizations, including: BC Association of Social Workers, Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada and the International Council of Social Welfare, Canada. She is also a director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and president of the Vancouver Branch of the United Nations Association in Canada. She has been awarded the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada and received honorary doctorates from the University of the Fraser Valley and the University of British Columbia.

Frank Giustra

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Frank Giustra, President and CEO of Fiore Capital Corp is known for extensive philanthropic efforts locally and globally which have provided life saving disaster assistance, societal improvement, economic development and cultural advancement. His professional background in the investment, mining and entertainment industries provided the foundation from which his philanthropy has grown, particularly his creation of the Radcliffe Foundation in support of local and international disaster relief, economic development and homelessness charities.

His support close to home includes BC Children’s Hospital, Canuck Place and the Streetohome Foundation.

Globally, Mr. Giustra is a trustee of the International Crisis Group; an international non-governmental, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to prevent and resolve deadly conflicts through high-level advocacy. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Clinton Foundation, and partnered with former US President Bill Clinton to create the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership aimed at developing initiatives to alleviate poverty in the developing world.

Rodney Graham


Rodney Graham was recognized with a Civic Merit Award for his contribution to contemporary visual arts in Canada and around the world. He is known for his conceptual sculpture, text-works, photography and films often with a common theme examining situations related to modern life with wry references to cultural and intellectual history. He has represented Canada at several international exhibitions, including the 1997 Venice Biennale and has received multiple awards for his art, including the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in the arts.

Mr. Graham was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016 for his contributions to Canadian contemporary art.

Chue George Ing

Retired Military Officer and Community Advocate

George Ing has been a champion of preserving the historical significance of Chinese Canadian service in the military through his involvement in various community initiatives. He was instrumental in the City of Vancouver’s Apology for Historic Discrimination Against Chinese Canadians as a member of the advisory group and he provided valuable insight and perspective to UBC’s A Journey of Hope publication that marked this historic apology.

He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for 32 years, rising through the ranks to become Lieutenant Colonel, and held a variety of leadership roles in Canada and overseas including time in Europe with a significant NATO post. He was recognized for his service with both the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal and NATO Decoration.  Lt.-Col. Ing is an active community volunteer, serving with many local and national organizations including Pacific Unit 280 (comprised of Chinese-Canadian Veterans) and the Chinese Canadian Military Museum. 

Jennifer Wade

Human Rights Advocate

Jennifer Wade has spent most of her life championing human rights issues around the world. As a founding member of Amnesty International in Vancouver in 1974, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of prisoners of conscience and other people facing injustices throughout the world.

Dr. Wade, a retired university teacher, has served on the local and national boards of the Elizabeth Fry Society and on the boards of other organizations dedicated to human rights, justice issues and those who are disadvantaged in society. She has also created a number of funds to provide scholarships and bursaries for students who have undergone great difficulties, or students who are the first in their families to study in B.C. at the post-secondary level.  She has also established two scholarships in the Maritimes. 

Dr. Wade is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Sovereign’s Medal, the Renate Shearer Award and the BC Civil Liberties Reg Robson Award. She has received an honorary doctorate from the University of New Brunswick and an honorary doctor of laws from the University of Vancouver Island. She is a recipient of the Order of British Columbia.

Maggie Ip

Community Organizer 

Maggie Ip received the Civic Merit Award for her pioneering efforts on behalf of immigrants. She created SUCCESS, which started as a settlement service for new Canadians and has grown into a multi-service multi-cultural organization with over 20 service locations in Metro Vancouver and BC, and three overseas offices.

SUCCESS was established in 1973 when Ms. Ip recognized that Vancouver was sorely lacking in services to support the surge of new immigrants from Hong Kong and Macau at the time. Her work through SUCCESS has spanned education, culture, immigration, housing, seniors and youth.

She also served as chair of the SUCCESS Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars since it began in 1986, and she volunteered with United Way, AMSSA and YWCA.

Ms. Ip was formerly a teacher and served as a Vancouver City Councillor in the mid-1990s. She has been awarded the BC Community Service Award and was recognized as one of the province’s 150 most Noteworthy British Columbians during Canada’s 150 celebrations. 

Judith Marcuse

Artist and Social Change Advocate

Judith Marcuse is an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and the Founder and Co-Director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change. As an artist (dancer, choreographer, director, producer), she was drawn to the field of art for social change and has become a prominent leader and advocate for the integration of arts-based dialogue into diverse social-change contexts.

The impact of Dr. Marcuse’s work (over 100 original works exploring social issues) has led to collaboration with a range of community groups, non-governmental organizations and educational institutions in Canada and other countries.

She is a senior fellow of the prestigious Global Ashoka Fellowship, is in the first of a three-year appointment as a mentor with the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation’s Mentorship Program and is the Principal Investigator of a five-year national research project involving 25 researchers, six universities and 15 community partners; the first of its kind in Canada. She has received several awards and accolades for her achievements, including an honorary doctorate from SFU.  

Dr. Gabor Mate

Author and Researcher

Dr. Gabor Maté received a Civic Merit Award for his extensive work on addiction treatment and his contributions to understanding mental health and youth related to addiction, stress and childhood development.

With over 20 years of experience in family practice and palliative care, Dr. Maté has written extensively about these issues with several of his best-selling books published internationally. He spent 12 years working in the Downtown Eastside (including time spent with Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site) with patients dealing with drug addiction, mental illness and HIV.

His mind-body approach to understanding addiction and the compassionate treatment protocols he developed based on the impact of early childhood experiences have garnered international attention and accolades. He has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Northern British Columbia, an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University and the Martin Luther King Award from Mothers Against Teen Violence.

Dr. Julio Montaner

Clinician and Researcher

Dr. Julio Montaner is an internationally recognized and multiple-award winning clinician and research leader in the field of HIV/AIDS. His medical breakthroughs and achievements revolutionized HIV/AIDS treatment globally and have contributed to AIDS changing from a death sentence to a manageable syndrome. To this end, he pioneered the triple-drug therapy protocol which has become the gold standard worldwide for HIV treatment.

Dr. Montaner created the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS known as 90-90-90 which would lead to an approximately 90% decrease in HIV progression and new infections globally. He has authored and co-authored hundreds of scientific publications on HIV/AIDS, was instrumental in establishing Vancouver’s Supervised Injection Site, has been awarded many prestigious research grants and received multiple awards for his work (including being inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and being called to the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada).

Dr. Montaner is a Professor of Medicine, Chair of AIDS Research, director of Providence Health Care and Head of the Division of AIDS in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC. He is also the National Co-Director of the Canadian HIV Trials Network and Past-President of the international AIDS Society.

Eyob Naizghi

Former Executive Director of MOSAIC

Eyob Naizghi is recognized for more than 25 years of service to new Canadians through his tenure with MOSAIC, one of the largest settlement organizations in Canada serving immigrants, newcomers and refugees in the Metro Vancouver area.

As executive director from 2001-18, Mr. Naizghi provided enviable leadership as he and his team developed the organization into a highly respected, multi million-dollar service with 26 client-accessible sites, over 300 staff, 450 volunteers and 300 contractors. As a result of Mr. Naizghi’s expertise and experience and MOSAIC’s history of successful collaborations with many different organizations, MOSAIC was well-positioned and able to play a leadership role in the response efforts associated with settlement of the recent large influx of Syrian refugees in Metro Vancouver.

Mr. Naizghi has been a member of several Vancouver committees related to immigration and led a public forum at Vancouver City Hall on the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Debra Sparrow


Debra Sparrow, known by her ancestral name as θəliχʷəlʷət (Thelliawhatlwit), is a Musqueam weaver, artist and knowledge-keeper whose work has brought Indigenous art and culture to the local and international stage. She has been instrumental, along with her sister Robyn, in reviving Musqueam weaving techniques, reconstructing traditional methods and rejuvenating historical crafts.

Ms. Sparrow has designed programs to teach children and adults about Musqueam culture and history through the UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver School Board and Urban Weavers Project. She designed the logo for the Canadian Men’s 2010 Olympic hockey team and Unity Scarf for 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She has also been commissioned to create unique works for other significant events, special collections (both public and private) and has authored several publications related to textiles and crafts.

Ms. Sparrow is also a recipient of the BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations’ Art.

Chief Maureen Thomas

First Nations Leader and Advocate

Chief Maureen Thomas, know by her ancestral name as Si’lhe-Ma’elWut, has served as both a Tsleil-Waututh Nation Councillor and Chief since 2003. She is a strong advocate for First Nations issues, and a collaborative leader who has worked with many First Nations communities and negotiated with various levels of government and business with regards to resources, land and rights. 

Chief Thomas was instrumental in the Tsleil-Waututh Nation obtaining First Nations Financial Management Board certification and has worked hard to integrate modern business practices with important historical and cultural teachings to advance her Nation in today’s world.  She played an integral role with the Four Host First Nations during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and continues to be a leader in the environmental protection of Burrard Inlet.

Chief Bill Williams

First Nations Leader and Advocate

Chief Bill Williams, whose ancestral name is telálsemkin siyám, is one of sixteen Hereditary Chiefs of the Squamish First Nation. He has served for several decades as a Squamish Nation elected representative and been involved extensively in the political and cultural interests of his community. Over the years, he has held several portfolios with the Squamish Nation including: Recreation Director, Councillor and Band Manager.

Chief Williams has also worked tirelessly to protect the interests of the Squamish First Nation through territory and rights negotiations, creating opportunities for job training and economic advancement, preserving cultural and historical sites and practices, and ensuring responsible stewardship of the environment. He has served on many provincial and national committees including time as a Director of Administration of the Assembly of First Nations, is one of the original trustees of the Aboriginal Electoral Endowment Trust and was appointed by the Prime Minister as its representative on the National Revenue Committee.