NEWS RELEASE

OTTAWA, May 14, 2018 – Senator Betty Unger today awarded the Senate of Canada’s 150th Commemorative Medal to three Alberta residents and four Alberta organizations in recognition of their significant contributions to their communities.

“Albertans embody the spirit of volunteering,” Senator Unger said. “In the last General Social Survey from Statistics Canada in 2013 it was found that at least 50 percent of Albertans do volunteer work every year – a rate with surpasses the Canadian average.”

“This medal celebrates the sesquicentennial anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate on November 6, 1867, and was created to recognize Canadians and organizations who – through generosity, dedication and volunteer work – make their home town, community, region, province or territory a better place,” Senator Unger said.

“Canada’s 150th birthday is the perfect time to honour Canadian residents and organizations who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.”

Today’s recipients were:

  • Dennis Grant, Grande Prairie
  • Melanie Mitchell, Edmonton
  • Patrick Souliere, Edmonton
  • Catholic Social Services
  • Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association
  • The Mustard Seed
  • The Society for Support to Pregnant & Parenting Teens, Grande Prairie

The awards ceremony was held at Government House in Edmonton. Senator Unger was joined for the presentation by Her Honour, the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, CM, AOE, LLD, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.

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Medal Recipients (L-R): Dr. Troy Davies (Catholic Social Services), Dennis Grant, Melanie Mitchell, Her Honour Lieutenant Governor Lois E. Mitchell, Senator Betty Unger, His Honour Honourary Colonel Douglas Mitchell, Susan Jensen (Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association), Dalene Pilat (Society for Support to Pregnant and Parenting Teens), Doug Wile (The Mustard Seed), Patrick Souliere.

Medal Recipients with Senator Unger (L-R): Melanie Mitchell, Dr. Troy Davies (Catholic Social Services), Susan Jensen (Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association), Patrick Souliere, Senator Betty Unger, Dalene Pilat (Society for Support to Pregnant and Parenting Teens), Dennis Grant, Doug Wile (The Mustard Seed).

About the recipients

Mr. Dennis E. Grant, Grande Prairie

Dennis Grant has a long and exemplary record of volunteer service to his community. This service includes but is not limited to the following: He served as a member of the Board of Directors and Venue Director for the 1995 Canada Winter Games, he was Vice-Chair of the Alberta Student Finance Advisory Board, and he sat as a member of the Grande Prairie Chamber of Commerce. He is also a founding member of the Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Foundation Board, a past member of the Board of Directors for the United Way, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Covenant Health Authority.

Ms. Melanie Mitchell, Edmonton

Melanie Mitchell exemplifies the Alberta volunteer spirit, having logged thousands of hours of volunteer service. Ms. Mitchell has volunteered at the Marian Centre in Edmonton, preparing and serving hot lunches to those in need, as well as serving in various capacities at St. Joseph’s Basilica Parish for over 25 years. She has volunteered at the Commonwealth Games, the Universiade Games, has served as Grounds Committee Coordinator of the Grandin Green Cooperative for 9 years, and has logged over 2500 volunteer hours at the Cross Cancer Institute.

Mr. Patrick Souliere, Edmonton

Patrick Souliere has been a life-long volunteer. He has coached minor sports for over 40 years, including soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, swimming and football.  He joined the Knights of Columbus at the age of 18 and has continued to be active in the organization for the last 44 years.  Along with many other volunteer contributions, Mr. Souliere has served on the Corporate Professional Committee of Catholic Social Services and on the Royal Alexander Hospital Fundraising committee.

Catholic Social Services

Catholic Social Services (CSS) has a long history of serving people with humility, compassion, and respect. With over 1,800 staff and the support of hundreds of volunteers, who on an annual basis provide more than 45,000 hours of service, CSS cares for and offers hope to individuals and families throughout Edmonton and Central Alberta. Among 100 different programs, CSS supports the settlement of newcomers to Canada, offers a safe place for women leaving abusive relationships, helps homeless youth to build better lives, and enables people with disabilities to live life to its fullest. Agency volunteers are essential to helping CSS improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Dr. Troy Davies, CEO of Catholic Social Services, will be receiving the award on behalf of the organization and its volunteers.

Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association

The Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association (CCIVA) is a not for profit volunteer group whose mandate is to enhance patient care and comfort at the Cross Cancer Institute. The CCIVA began their work in 1962 with 24 volunteers serving refreshments to patients and families in waiting areas and driving patients to and from appointments. Today’s volunteer team is 350-strong, and they provide over 20 programs and services that support cancer patients and their families. Over their 55 years of service, CCIVA volunteers have contributed over 1,500,000 hours of service, raised over 6 million dollars to support patient care and comfort, and have benefitted hundreds of thousands of people. Susan Jensen, President of the Cross Cancer Institute Volunteer Association, will be receiving the award on behalf of the Association and its volunteers.

The Mustard Seed

The Mustard Seed has been serving people experiencing poverty and homelessness in Alberta since the 1980s. It has become a haven for those needing help, which is offered through open hands with unconditional love. The Mustard Seed offers an expansive range of innovative programs and services. With the help of 28,000 volunteers last year, thousands of people were able to rely on the organization for food, shelter, clothing, counselling, housing assistance, employment coaching, education programs, health and wellness services, and spiritual care.  Stephen Wile, CEO of The Mustard Seed, will be accepting the award on behalf of the organization and its volunteers.

Society for Support to Pregnant & Parenting Teens

The Society for Support to Pregnant and Parenting Teens is a community-based service which helps pregnant and parenting teens achieve their personal best.  Serving Grande Prairie and the surrounding area, the program promotes pre-natal care and healthy parenting to pregnant teens to ensure optimum health for mom and baby during the pregnancy and after birth. The program also enhances the opportunity for pregnant or parenting teens to successfully complete their schooling, and works to help teen moms achieve self-sufficient, independent living while decreasing dependence on financial assistance. Volunteers are a key part of this program and provide support in numerous ways including helping out in the daycare program, serving on the board, and assisting in fundraising efforts. Dalene Pilat, Chairperson of the Society for Support to Pregnant & Parenting Teens, will be accepting the award on behalf of the organization and its volunteers.

About the medals