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Governor General to present the Caring Canadian Award to 14 volunteers in Toronto

September 25, 2008

OTTAWA – Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 14 volunteers at a ceremony in Toronto on Wednesday, October 1, 2008, at the Wellesley Community Centre in Toronto, at 2 p.m.

Created in 1996 by the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc, the award is presented to individuals and groups whose unpaid, voluntary contributions provide extraordinary help or care to people in the community. Recipients have served over a number of years and normally have not been recognized previously by a national or provincial honour.  The award consists of a framed certificate and a lapel pin for everyday wear. The award symbol represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others.

The names and citations of the recipients follow. Additional information about this award can be found at www.gg.ca/honours/awards/cca/index_e.asp.


Media wishing to cover the event should call Rideau Hall Press Office before October 1st, 2008.

Media information

Marie-Paule Thorn
Rideau Hall Press Office
On October 1st, 2008, please call 613-301-2764
www.gg.ca / www.citizenvoices.gg.ca


Balliram Chadee

Ajax (Ontario)

Margaret E. Cooper et L. Elaine Simpson

Toronto (Ontario)

Pat Davidson

Toronto (Ontario)

Almas Dhrolia-Jiwani

Mississauga (Ontario)

Tom Jeary

Waterloo (Ontario)

Father Howard J. Keon

Toronto (Ontario)

Bahi Krishnakhanthan

Ajax (Ontario)

Thomas William Manley

Toronto (Ontario)

Jack Clifford McFarland

Hamilton (Ontario)

Marilyn Mecke

Brantford (Ontario)

Joan Winnifred Rogers

Toronto (Ontario)

John L. Wright

North York (Ontario)

Katie Zeppieri

Whitby (Ontario)


Balliram Chadee, Ajax, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Known as “the Sadhu from Ajax”, Balliram Chadee is a Hindu spiritual leader and volunteer chaplain whose many trailblazing efforts have supported new arrivals to Canada and have fostered greater inter-cultural understanding. For over 20 years, he has created many outreach programs for Durham residents, and has actively served on a variety of municipal committees, ranging from the Community Development Council to the Durham Regional Police. With his founding of two charitable missions, many immigrants and refugees have benefited from counselling services, disaster relief and language training. Always ready and wiling to serve, Mr. Chadee is an example of vision, dedication and leadership.

Margaret E. Cooper and L. Elaine Simpson, Toronto, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Since 1944, Margaret Cooper and Elaine Simpson have volunteered with the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. They have assisted hospital staff with long-term, chronically ill patients, and have participated in many hospital events, including the monthly Sherry luncheons, the annual garden party and the holiday patient gift wrap. Ms. Cooper has helped staff to feed patients and has participated for many years in programs to develop public speaking skills, while Ms. Simpson has served on many fundraising and social committees, and has delivered Meals on Wheels for over 20 years. To this day, they both continue to give generously of their time and energy towards the comfort and care of those in need.

Pat Davidson, Toronto, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

A passionate and dedicated volunteer, Pat Davidson’s exceptional commitment and efforts over 20 years have benefited many women and children facing stress and hardship. Since 1984, she has served as a counsellor with Camp Oochigeas, sharing her skills as a former nurse to care for children with cancer.  She later served as a member of the camp’s governance committee, assisting in the opening of a second camp for young people who have lost their siblings to cancer. In addition to her work with children, Ms. Davidson volunteered with New Directions, where she provided much-needed peer support and referrals to women undergoing separation, divorce or bereavement. 

Almas Dhrolia-Jiwani, Mississauga, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Following her arrival in Canada in 1979, Almas Dhrolia-Jiwani’s continuous support of and dedication to a variety of humanitarian causes has touched the lives of many. She has been active within the Ismaili community for over 18 years, serving on several volunteer committees and boards for the Aga Khan Council for Canada. She was the national vice-chair for the Council’s Settlement Committee, which oversaw and coordinated the arrival of Afghan immigrants. For the past six years, she has volunteered with the United Nations Development Fund for Women as its national director, and has helped to raise thousands of dollars for the relief of poverty among women in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  

Tom Jeary, Waterloo, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

For over 30 years, Tom Jeary has endeavoured to improve the quality of life of others. In his basement workshop, he has designed and created hundreds of custom-built gadgets and equipment that help adults and children with disabilities to achieve greater independence. Since the early 1970s, he has created adaptive inventions for numerous organizations such as KidsAbility, the Track III Ski Program and the Independent Living Centre. Through his Web site, Workshop Solutions, he has provided free online plans and a forum where inventors from around the world can share knowledge about building adaptive devices for persons with physical disabilities. A devoted Rotarian, he lives by his personal motto: “Nothing is impossible”.

Father Howard J. Keon, Toronto, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Since 1980, Father Howard Keon has demonstrated a strong commitment to community service, devoting his retirement years to visiting school children and seniors. While living in Alberta, he served as liaison for a number of schools in the Lethbridge area. He has also served as a volunteer marriage counsellor to thousands of couples with the Marriage Encounter programs of Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer and Toronto. He has provided comfort to many people in distress and continues to spend time with seniors in nursing homes, offering companionship and assistance to many ailing residents. 

Bahi Krishnakhanthan, Ajax, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

A passionate advocate for women and immigrants, Bahi Krishnakhanthan has supported a diverse number of causes over many years, ranging from the Community Development Council of Durham to the YWCA. A dedicated spokesperson, she has delivered educational and inspirational messages about racism, domestic abuse and South Asian culture to a wide variety of organizations. She has been a volunteer associate for the Ajax-Pickering COPE Mental Health Program since 1995, and was also actively involved in the Canadian Tamil Women’s Community Services. Her extensive board work with a number of not-for-profit agencies has given hope to many residents of the Durham region, and has helped to improve the quality of life for many newcomers to Canada.

Thomas William Manley, Toronto, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

For almost 25 years, Thomas Manley has demonstrated exemplary leadership and dedication through his work with children and with the Toronto Police Service. He has also served as a Big Brother in Scarborough and did extensive committee work in support of this organization. In 1992, he joined the Toronto Auxiliary Police as a volunteer police constable and has assisted with many community events, including parades and street festivals. With his team, he has undertaken many essential tasks, including evidence collection and searches for missing persons. For three years, Mr. Manley also chaired the Toy Drive, which has helped to raise thousands of dollars in food vouchers and toys for women and children at risk.

Jack Clifford McFarland, Hamilton, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Following his retirement from military service in 1976, Jack McFarland began working on behalf of veterans for a variety of causes. He has been involved with the United Council of Veterans for over 30 years, helping to provide assistance to aging veterans, and has also advocated on their behalf through his extensive work with the Hamilton Veterans’ Committee. He is an executive member of the local Prisoner of War Association and played a key role in the construction of the Dieppe Memorial Monument, honouring the memory of soldiers who died during the Second World War. He continues to serve his community, participating in Remembrance Day events and speaking with students about veterans and Canada’s role in past conflicts. 

Marilyn Mecke, Brantford, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Marilyn Mecke’s community service has benefited not only the residents of Brantford and Brant County, but also many children both here and abroad. She is the driving force behind “Marilyn’s Clothing Giveaway”, a massive yearly charitable campaign, which has provided used winter clothing, linens, boots and toys to many distressed families and individuals during the harsh winter months, as well as hundreds of hygiene kits for homeless persons. She has also taught literacy to children and initiated the Children’s Benefit project, which provides backpacks filled with school supplies to underprivileged students. A truly caring citizen, she is a regular St. Vincent de Paul volunteer and has spearheaded a Shoe Box program to send aid to African children affected by HIV/AIDS. 

Joan Winnifred Rogers, Toronto, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

Over the past 50 years, Joan Rogers has worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of her fellow citizens. She assisted working mothers and mothers of children with special needs with the establishment of various low-cost daycare services in Toronto. She has actively supported her church, particularly with the creation of a Meals on Wheels program, and has volunteered regularly with the Canadian Cancer Society, serving in many key roles to help improve living conditions for cancer patients. Her extraordinary efforts also include the co-founding of Hope Air, which provides free air travel to Canadians in need of medical treatment or diagnosis. In over 22 years, Hope Air has helped more than 3 000 Canadians from remote areas of Ontario to receive essential care and treatment.

John L. Wright, North York, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

A retired police officer and a veteran of the Second World War, John Wright has volunteered with many charitable organizations in the Toronto area, such as the United Way. He has also held numerous positions with the Ontario Provincial Police Veterans' Association, where he has acted on behalf of members who are ill or in need of assistance. In addition, Mr. Wright is an active member of the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, where he is highly regarded for his exemplary work with seniors, with whom he visits regularly and escorts to medical appointments.

Katie Zeppieri, Whitby, Ontario
Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award

A champion for human rights, Katie Zeppieri has demonstrated exceptional leadership and an abiding commitment to social action. As a former group leader of Students Together Against Racism and as a member of her school’s Culture of Peace Committee, she effectively promoted harmony and diversity among students as well as in the community at large. She helped to produce educational texts and a CD about issues of youth and multiculturalism, and has also participated in community efforts to develop strategies to combat violence against children. Notably, she co-organized and ran an educational conference for youth to help build awareness and create action plans to aid young victims of abuse.

Updated: 2008-09-25
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