It's a salute to 13 individuals, corporations, community groups and organizations who really made a difference.
The Calgary Awards, established in 1994 by City Council, recognize Calgarians who have had a significant impact on quality of life in the City.
The 2016 award recipients were recognized by Mayor Nenshi and members of Council at a ceremony held late last month in the Municipal Building Atrium.
Calgary Awards are presented in five major categories:
- Community Achievement
- The Signature Award
- The Environmental Achievement Award
- The Award for Accessibility
- The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
2016 Calgary Awards Recipients
The Community Achievement Awards
Kathi Sundstrom, Arts
Kathi Sundstrom immediately became a fan of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) while attending the 1984 premiere production of Body and Soul. In 1993, after several years on DJD’s Board, Kathi left her secure private sector job to assume the position of General Manager, with a commitment to the dance company for two years. Twenty-five years later Kathi is still leading DJD as Executive Director.
Under her direction, DJD has evolved from a struggling local arts organization to one of Canada’s most innovative and successful dance companies. In addition to being one of Calgary’s largest recreational dance schools, DJD has created more than 60 new dance productions. Understanding the importance of community outreach, the company has offered in-school residency programs and annual school tours, and has been recognized for their inclusiveness in providing space to other dancers and dance companies.
Kathi’s pinnacle achievement occurred last year with the opening of the $26-million DJD Dance Centre. It has been through her extraordinary ability to form strategic partnerships, and engage corporate and community support, that Calgary now boasts this new facility. Through DJD, Kathi has strengthened Calgary’s arts community and brought recognition to our city.
Joanne Young, Commerce
From humble beginnings in 1977 as a one-person, home-based business, Greenery Office Interiors has become an internationally recognized operation with a staff of 18, and a 3,000 sq. ft. showroom, office and warehouse. Owner Joanne Young is a leader and innovator in the North American interior landscape industry, receiving many awards for her outstanding work.
One such award was for “The Winter Garden” and “The Living Wall” located at Jamieson Place in Calgary. It was described by her peers as “The Installation of the Decade” in recognition for her excellence in design, installation and maintenance in the landscape industry,
Joanne is a sought-after educator, speaker and panelist at major industry events in Canada and the United States. Giving back to the community has been a priority for Joanne. She has played an instrumental role in raising funds for many local charities, such as the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Ovarian Cancer Canada. She has generously donated plants and her expertise to create healing environments at Wellspring Calgary’s cancer support centre and the Kerby Rotary House. With her business success and presence in the community, it is not surprising that Joanne will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Greenery Office Interiors this year.
Cheri Macaulay, Community Advocate
Cheri Macaulay has made an extraordinary contribution to urban neighborhood development and vitality in Calgary. In her northwest community of Brentwood, she has assisted in its revitalization, while setting precedents for other aging communities in the city. She has championed transit in the neighborhood, leant her artistic flair in the creation of murals, and, successfully initiated the first Free Little Library. There are now over 100 of the charming little neighborhood libraries in every corner of the city.
Reaching out to the larger community, Cheri believed citizens needed a stronger voice in civic matters. In 2009, from a Kensington coffee shop, a public advocacy group called CivicCamp was born. After the election in 2010, Cheri became the first member of the Mayor’s Civic Engagement Committee. She was also a key organizer for Votekit, a useful tool for first time voters. These initiatives would not have been possible without Cheri’s leadership and innovation.
In conjunction with the Mayor’s Office, Cheri spearheaded the very meaningful 3 Things for Calgary, with the belief that people can affect positive change with acts of kindness. Out of this program blossomed Three Things for Canada, in celebration of the 150th anniversary. As an advocate, Cheri’s significant contribution serves as an inspiration in understanding the difference one person can make in our community.
Calgary Corporate Challenge, Community Advocate Organization
Calgary Corporate Challenge (CCC) is a professionally run, non-profit organization operating in the Calgary community for over 22 years. The organization initiates team-building events that bring together the corporate community in friendly competition as a way of building employee relations, raising funds and distributing food, clothing and other goods to those in need.
Working closely with ten local Calgary charities, Calgary Corporate Challenge has raised over $6.2 million since 1996. This has been achieved through programming such as the annual September Games, where over 15,000 participants from 160 companies are engaged to join the competition. KidSport Calgary is one beneficiary of this program. In 2016, over $85,000 was raised, to go toward registration fees and equipment for children who otherwise would not be able to participate in sport.
Last year, over 13,000 pounds of food was donated to the Calgary Food Bank and 4,000 books donated to Calgary Reads. Calgary Corporate Challenge not only raises funds and collects goods, it provides participants with an exposure to the charitable needs in our community, and instills the practice of giving back to our community.
Donald B. Smith, Education
For over 20 years, Professor Smith taught hundreds of students Western Canadian and First Nations History at the University of Calgary. Early on in his career, he recognized his responsibility as an educator in presenting the whole history of Canada, and in particular, the integral role of the First Nations. Don’s scholarly work on the history of the indigenous peoples of Canada has received well-deserved recognition, and he is highly praised amongt this community for his insightful portrayal of their history.
Don’s interest in local history is captured in the writing of Calgary’s Grand Story. This historical resource on Calgary’s Lougheed Building and Grand Theatre represents a notable time in our cultural history, while emphasizing the importance of preserving the buildings that teach us about our past.
After retirement from the University of Calgary, Don launched the educational initiative, the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners, which offers monthly public lectures for older, often retired, adults. Don is well respected at local historical associations, societies and archives, and continues to be a much sought-after guest lecturer, and regular contributor to numerous publications.
Through his dedication, research practices and exceptional abilities as a storyteller, Don has played a vital role as an educator in our community.
Gordon J. Hoffman, Heritage
In 2003, Gordon Hoffman founded the Alberta Champions Society in Recognition of Community Enrichment, which honours Albertans who have made a significant contribution to Calgary and area. To honour these champions, the “Fields of Fame” or groupings of six steel “sheaves of wheat” have been installed in public spaces around the city. On each of these 13 ft. sculptures, there is a photograph and descriptive panel outlining the contributions of these worthy individuals; from Harry Hays to Chief Walking Buffalo to Nellie McClung.
Another component of this project is an essay contest organized by the society in collaboration with both Calgary school boards. Students in Gr. 4-9 are encouraged to write about the historical figures and invited to participate in the unveilings to further enhance the learning experience. The fifth and most recent installation took place September 2016 at Heritage Park Historical Village, and the sixth and seventh sculpture parks are in the works.
The “Fields of Fame” serve to educate and foster an appreciation for our local and regional history, while enhancing our public spaces as works of art. This outstanding project would not be possible without Gordon’s extraordinary contribution and appreciation for the importance of preserving our heritage.
Emily Gubski, Youth
Emily immigrated with her family to Canada in Gr. 4 and, at 17 years of age, has made a significant contribution to our city through her vision, leadership abilities, and unrelenting desire to help people.
At 14, Emily founded “JunioTech Kids Academy," a highly-successful robotics program with the University of Calgary. This educational program teams high school and university students in a dynamic learning environment. At the same time, Emily initiated a dance group called the “Calgary Stars," for immigrant children aged 4-17. With Emily`s leadership as volunteer coach and choreographer, this group continues to proudly perform at different multicultural festivals and events around the city.
Emily also volunteers for many causes in the community, such as Kids Cancer Care and Youth Calgary. As a youth leader, she helped recruit donors for the Calgary Blood Donor Clinic, working three hours a week to assist at the clinic. Asa student at Sir Winston Churchill High School, Emily has been involved in many programs, from Model UN to the development of a mentorship program for incoming Gr. 10 students.
As a participant in the 2017 Canada Wide Science Fair, she received honours for her project on experimenting with HIV immunity in patients. Emily’s extraordinary achievements at such a young age and in a very brief time make her a worthy recipient of this year`s Youth Award.
Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, Grant MacEwan Lifetime Achievement
For over 35 years, Robbie Babins-Wagner has been in the forefront of mental health issues in our city. In 1996, she assumed the role of CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre. Under her leadership, the centre has become one of Canada’s premier support services for people with mental health issues and a hub of research excellence.
As an expert in the field of domestic abuse and violence, Robbie has worked tirelessly in the Calgary community to bring about change. She has provided invaluable support on the steering committee of Resolve Alberta, a research network that supports ending violence. She also played a pivotal role with Homefront, an organization that teams police and community partners to end domestic violence. In a creative and strategic partnership with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary, Robbie has lead ground-breaking research projects in the areas of family violence and the treatment of abusive men and women.
This work has gained international recognition. In 2015, in recognition of Robbie’s accomplishments in mental health, she was the recipient of theLieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction True Leadership Award, and the University of Calgary ARCH Alumni Achievement award. Robbie’s leadership, vision and innovation in the field is transforming how people perceive, receive and deliver mental health services both in Calgary and the wider community.
Dr. Lucy Miller, Citizen of the Year
In 2016, Lucy Miller retired as President and CEO of the United Way. During her tenure as CEO, she made a remarkable contribution to Calgary and area, through her ability to bring people and organizations together to share resources and champion causes.
This is recognized in the creation of the All in for Youth program whereby schools, corporate partners, philanthropists, government and social agencies work together to improve Calgary’s high school completion rate and promote further education. This endeavor has changed the lives of thousands of children and continues to change the culture in Calgary.
With former Chief of Police, Rick Hansen, she helped to launch the Safe Communities Opportunity Resource Centre (SORCe). This program brought together 17 agencies in a common location to provide improved and preventative measures for groups over-represented in the justice system.
Acknowledging her leadership in the community, Lucy was recruited to serve on numerous boards, including the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, the Calgary Homeless Foundation and Premiers Advisory Council for Alberta`s Promise to Children.
Lucy made significant advances in the United Way’s key priorities to overcome poverty, ensuring children are successful and building strong communities. But hard work alone does not fully describe ucy. She has earned a widespread reputation as a kind and compassionate individual who really cares.
The Signature Award
Robert (Bob) Brawn
Calgary-born, Bob Brawn, has succeeded in many business ventures over the past 50 years, contributing to Calgary’s position as a leader in the oil and gas industry. Throughout this time, Bob has generously given back to the community with many volunteer and philanthropic endeavors.
One of his more noteable governing roles saw him serve as President of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. In 1984, as President, he was instrumental in the creation of the Calgary Economic Development Authority, which he later co-chaired with former Mayor Al Duerr.
Bob has provided leadership and countless volunteer hours to a number of organizations, including the 1988 Olympic Winter Games organizing committee, the Calgary Airport Authority, The Van Horne Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of Canada, and the 746 Communications Squadron, where he served as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel.
Asa respected business leader, Bob was also appointed to several Alberta Government committees. He served as chair of the Alberta Economic Development Authority, and co-chair of the Alberta Competitiveness Council with former Premier Ed Stelmach. He was also a member of the Premier’s Council for Economic Strategy.
In 1980, with his wife Carole, he established the Brawn Family Foundation, which has contributed up to $1 million annually to many charities in the city. With a focus on health, education and sporting activities, they have generously supported The University of Calgary, SAIT, the Alberta Children`s Hospital, Heritage Park and the Springbank Park for all Seasons.
Bob has been honoured with many prestigious awards for his contributions to the community, and is most worthy of the latest, The Signature Award.
The Environmental Achievement Award
Dr. Joe Vipond
Believing the population’s health is the responsibility of physicians, doctor and eco-leader Joe Vipond, has stood behind his vow to bring about change. Understanding the serious health and environmental impact of coal-generated electricity in our province, as an astute leader and spokesperson, Joe played a critical role in the Alberta Government’s adoption of a coal phaseout plan by 2030. This is a significant achievement when recognizing that each year, pollution from coal plants is estimated to cost the health-care system $300 million and leads to 100 premature deaths. Even more impressive, this single coal phase-out campaign will result in the largest emissions reduction in North American history.
Continuing to educate and engage the public on environmental matters, Joe manages the Facebook pages for the Alberta Acts on Climate Change and Canadian Coal Phase-Out. These sites routinely reach 10,000 people weekly, generating dialog and dispensing up-to-date information on these topics. Joe currently sits on the board of the Alberta Wilderness Association and Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment; and was previously on the board of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association - Southern Chapter.
Joe’s unwavering commitment and effectiveness as a campaign leader have made him a valued contributor in the promotion of environmental stewardship.
Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society – Nature Calgary
In 2016, Nature Calgary (officially known as the Calgary Field Naturalists’ Society) celebrated its 60th anniversary. Over the years, Nature Calgary has been involved as a stakeholder in numerous projects and plans affecting Calgary’s natural areas. Through its 60-year history Nature Calgary has been a prominent voice in promoting an understanding, appreciation and conservation of Calgary’s biodiversity and natural history assets.