2018 Ontario Senior Achievement Award Recipients
The Ontario Senior Achievement Awards recognize people who have made outstanding contributions to their communities through voluntary or professional activities after the age of 65.
Campbell D. Brown of Strathroy, a retired elementary school principal who enriches the lives of young people through his volunteer work at Camp Keemokee. He spent decades as a board member and Director at the camp, donated generously to improve camp facilities and often sponsored campers' registration fees himself.
Trèva Cousineau of Orléans, a passionate supporter of French education and culture in Ontario. She is the past president of Mouvement d'implication francophone d'Orléans, which advocates for French-language programs and services in the Orléans region.
Ronald J. Desrocher of Kitchener, a carpenter and contractor who volunteered his skills to make his retirement community a better place to live. He undertook several carpentry and landscaping projects, designing, building and maintaining many of the improvements himself.
Christopher A. Harris of Ottawa, a community leader with a strong commitment to fairness, equality and social justice. He has spent decades working with the Ottawa Police Services, the RCMP and Ottawa city council to improve cross-cultural understanding and promote the hiring of visible minorities.
Margaret E. Harris of Dorion, the founder and president of the Friendship Club 55 Plus, the only seniors' group in the Dorion and Hurkett area. Her club organizes weekly meetings and group excursions, giving seniors in her rural community a chance to remain active and engaged.
Eleanor Kane of Stratford, a major contributor to Stratford's cultural community. She is the cofounder of the Stratford Chefs School, one of Canada's premier culinary institutions. She was also chair of a committee that built an outdoor Market Square behind Stratford City Hall, creating an attractive and accessible community space.
Samuel Laldin of Kingston, founder of the Christian Cultural Association of South Asians, which helps members connect with government services and other non-profit organizations. He leads needs assessment seminars and creates programs for seniors to help them remain active and engaged in their communities.
Brian Leyes of Whitby, president of the resident's council at the Village of Taunton Mills retirement community. He operates a general store that is staffed entirely by residents, and works with staff to promote accessibility and resident-focused decision making.
Christine McMillan of Toronto, the founder of Oasis Senior Supportive Living, which provides services to seniors living in privately-owned apartments. The program anticipates the needs of Ontario's changing population and is a model for the potential future of retirement living in the province.
Ajit Singh Rakhra of Brampton, a founding member of the Senior Social Services Group. In 2016 he successfully lobbied for a lower poverty line threshold to help more seniors qualify for free medication. He also advocated for more low-cost funeral services in the Greater Toronto Area and secured permission for the traditional funeral custom of dispersing ashes to be practiced on selected Crown lands.
Richard Taylor of North Bay, a ski instructor who co-ordinates the Nipissing Trackers, a free skiing program for children with disabilities and special needs. Richard secured sponsors to help with equipment and registration costs and led the classes himself.
Janet Tipping of Tottenham, a long-time volunteer for Simcoe Village Long-Term Care Centre. She runs a snack shop and an ice cream cart, and shares her musical talent at church and special events. She holds sing-alongs for patients with dementia and helped create over 75 different memory aid books to help the patients with discussing their memories.
Chau Thi Vo of Vaughan, a prominent advocate for seniors in the Vietnamese community. At 95 years of age, she represents the Golden Age Village for the Elderly at fundraiser events and accompanies the Village's board of directors to meetings with local politicians. She also knits hats and scarves for the homeless and leads charity efforts for disaster relief funds.
Lilian M. Wells of Toronto has spent decades advocating for seniors' welfare in Toronto. She is a founding member and served two terms as president of the Toronto Council on Aging. She helped design many programs to empower seniors, and her work helped Toronto receive the Age-Friendly City designation from the World Health Organization.
Ru Yi Xie of Toronto, cofounder of the Golden Maple Leaf Seniors Association, dedicated to improving the quality of life of immigrant seniors. The association hosts programs like music and drama lessons, arts and crafts workshops, and Canadian culture and history classes.
Mohammad Omar Zahidi of Scarborough, an experienced teacher and a founding member of the Ontario Afghan Family and Seniors Services Association. He designs curriculum and teaches language and civics classes for Afghan seniors, helping them become more engaged in their communities.