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Ontario Spirit Award

Archived Backgrounder

Ontario Spirit Award

Tsunami 2004: Committed To Action And Generosity

Office of the Premier

  • Premier Dalton McGuinty is inviting nominations for a one-time award to recognize and honour Ontarians whose generous response to the tsunami disaster exemplifies the Ontario spirit of compassion and giving.
  • Following the December 26, 2004, tsunami disaster in South Asia, people across the province responded immediately to provide monetary, personal and practical support.


  • Nominations for the Ontario Spirit Award are invited from registered not-for-profit charities, faith organizations, service clubs, schools and professional associations.
  • Achievements can include volunteer action, technical or professional leadership, fundraising efforts, youth initiatives, partnerships and research.
  • There are no age restrictions.
  • Completed nomination forms for the Ontario Spirit Award must be received no later than September 30, 2005.
  • Nominees will receive a certificate and a commemorative pin to acknowledge their contribution to tsunami relief efforts.
  • Among those nominated, a number of exemplary children and youth will be selected by the Ontario Spirit committee to receive special recognition at a ceremony in the fall.
  • The nomination form and more information about the award can be obtained by visiting the website www.gov.on.ca/citizenship or by e-mailing: ontariohonoursandawards@mci.gov.on.ca
Ontario Spirit Committee

Following the tsunami disaster, Premier McGuinty asked the Honourable Hilary Weston and Peter Godsoe to co-chair a committee to lead Ontario's long-term efforts to assist victims of the tsunami disaster by supporting rebuilding and reconstruction in South Asia. Premier McGuinty is adding eight members to the Ontario Spirit committee.

Committee co-chairs Peter Godsoe

Peter Godsoe is a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and an officer of the Order of Canada. He has held various senior positions at Scotiabank in international, corporate and investment banking and was Chairman and Chief Executive Office up until his retirement (March 2004). He is chair of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts and Sobeys Inc., and a director of a number of non-profit institutes, including Mount Sinai Hospital.

The Honourable Hilary Weston

The Honourable Hilary M. Weston served as the 26th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario and is a member of both the Orders of Canada and of Ontario. Mrs. Weston is chair of the Renaissance ROM campaign and a patron of several organizations dealing with social issues and causes. Mrs. Weston had a career in the business and fashion industries prior to serving in public office.

Committee members Fareed Amin

Fareed Amin, Deputy City Manager of the City of Toronto, who oversees citizen focused services such as Building, City Planning, Fire, Municipal Licensing & Standards, Solid Waste Management, Engineering, Emergency Management, Environmental Services, Transportation, Toronto Water, Waterfront and Clean and Beautiful City, has held prominent positions in the Ontario Public Service, including Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Yani Hamdani

Yani Hamdani is an occupational therapist whose clinical practice and research focuses on youth with disabilities. Her family was directly affected by the tsunami disaster in Indonesia -- more than 20 of her relatives were killed, and other family members lost their homes and livelihoods. She has been actively involved with the Indonesian community in publicizing the scope of the tsunami's damage and fundraising, and is currently working with family and others in Indonesia to explore best ways to assist in rebuilding efforts.

Zul Kassamali

Zul Kassamali is a businessman and consultant specializing in program evaluation and delivery of services to seniors. He is president of the Multicultural Alliance for Seniors and Aging (MASA), Senior Advisor, Aga Khan Health Board for Canada, Seniors Portfolio and a member of the Mayor's Round Table. He is also a member of the Toronto Police Chief's Advisory Council and a member of the Board of Governors of Seneca College. He is the first vice-president of the Association of Progressive Muslims of Ontario, Vice-Chair of Canada Kenya Chambers or Commerce and chair of the Human Relations on Multicultural Council of Oshawa Durham (MOCD).

Rukhsana Khan

Rukhsana Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and came to Canada with her family at the age of three. She began writing for community magazines and children's publications and has authored seven books. She is an award-winning children's author and storyteller. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three children.

Mark Kielburger

Mark Kielburger is the co-founder and executive director of Leaders Today, a program providing leadership training to over 100,000 young people every year throughout Canada and the United States. He also serves as executive director of Free the Children, the largest network of children helping children in the world. He is the co-author of Take Action! A Guide to Active Citizenship and Take More Action! -- national bestsellers used by school boards. He is also co-author of Me to We: Turning Self-Help on its Head which outlines a philosophy of living that challenges the world.

Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips is the director of the Canadian Auto Workers' (CAW) International Department, and has a wealth of experience in projects related to disaster relief and international development. As CAW's international coordinator, she was responsible for the union's Tsunami Relief Response which saw CAW members raise $2 million. An initial donation was made to the Red Cross for humanitarian relief with the remainder being allocated for longer-term reconstruction and development.

Larry Tanenbaum

Larry Tanenbaum is the chair and CEO of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Ltd., a private investment holding company with investments in a number of industries throughout North America. The company is headquartered in Toronto and invests mainly in private companies, both directly for its own account, and indirectly through a fund it manages for significant financial institutions and pension funds. Besides Kilmer's investment in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, it currently has a significant investment in Lafarge North America Inc. (having merged its Warren Paving and Materials operations into Lafarge in 2001), and investments in the food, media, electronics and other manufacturing sectors. He is the NBA Governor for the Toronto Raptors, the NHL Governor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the chairman of the Board of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. In July 2003, he was named the most influential sports figure in Canada.

Suresh G. Thakrar

Suresh Thakrar is a Commissioner and Chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Board at the Ontario Securities Commission. He is former Vice-President of RBC Financial Group where he held a variety of senior positions with the bank for over 30 years. Mr. Thakrar has served on the boards of numerous business/community/social/cultural/arts/philanthropic groups and is currently serving on a number of not-for-profit boards and committees. In this capacity, he has played a leadership role in many community and philanthropic endeavours. Most recently he provided leadership to the Gujarat (India) Earthquake Relief Fund, a Canadian community-based initiative providing humanitarian assistance for relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction required for the thousands of people affected by the massive earthquake in India.