Please find below a copy of the Mayor’s 2018 Honour List. This year marks the 36th Honour List. (No list was presented in 1988.)
The Mayor’s Honour List was established by the late Mayor Marceil Saddy in 1981 to honour citizens and groups in the community or surrounding area who have been instrumental in improving the quality of life or making a significant contribution to the City of Sarnia and Lambton County. Helen Keller said it best–“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
The list, as always, is a highly personal list, based on my own observations throughout the year in the community, nominations from citizens and media stories.
The list is a tribute to the unsung people and groups in the community who make a difference in trying to create a good and just community and society. It is living proof that individual citizens and groups can make a difference. Individuals or groups nominated are not notified of their selection to the Mayor’s Honour List until the announcement is made through the media so I request that you not contact those on the list until the embargo is lifted.
A reception will be held in early 2019 to formally recognize the recipients.
Here are 2018’s Honourees:
DR. JAMES C. ACHESON
Dr. Acheson has played an influential role in promoting the spirit of the Port Huron and Sarnia communities. For many years Sarnia and surrounding communities have gathered along the waterfront in early July to watch the fireworks display above the St. Clair River, celebrating the two countries’ birthdays. It was Dr. Acheson who made these shows possible through Acheson Ventures. As well Acheson Ventures played a large role in sponsoring the Sarnia/Port Huron International Powerboat Festival enjoyed by thousands of people who lined the Sarnia and Port Huron waterfronts for many years. Dr. Acheson, founder of Acheson Ventures, is a philanthropist-developer who has invested and donated tens of millions of dollars in improving the quality of life in his hometown of Port Huron. His particular passion has been to restore the natural beauty of Port Huron’s waterfront as a mirror image of Sarnia’s waterfront and encouraging international development of the local boating industry. He has donated a mile of riverfront property to a non-profit foundation in an effort to replenish and sustain fishing on the St. Clair River and lower Lake Huron with lasting benefits to avid anglers on both sides of the border.
Dr. Acheson has been described as “a quiet, humble, honourable, unassuming gentleman who never asks for credit and does not expect lavish praise, but he has certainly earned our gratitude as a true and loyal friend of Sarnia, Lambton County and all of Bluewater Land.”
ALZHEIMER SOCIETY OF SARNIA-LAMBTON
The Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton began serving families in Sarnia- Lambton in 1986. It is the organization’s mission to provide quality service and support to families living with Alzheimer’s, dementia or any cognitive impairment issue. It is their vision to realize a world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The organization provides programmes not only for the diagnosed individual but for their families and care partners as well. The responsibilities include educating community partners such as Bluewater Health, Sarnia Police Services, EMS Staff, nursing home staff teams, Lambton Health Unit as well as local business who deal with this population. Support groups are offered. Locally, one in three families are affected by this set of diseases. Families are in need of more relief in terms of respite and by creating awareness for all the agency does in educating the community it is the hope to reduce the stigma attached to Alzheimer’s and dementia. Social workers with the Alzheimer’s Society become very close to the family members of the person suffering from dementia and it is difficult for them when they cannot do more for the family. The workers are often their only life lines as friends and family seem to disappear because this disease is not comfortable for people. Workers with the Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton are unsung heroes who provide support for this progressive disease.
After 27 years of tireless service Michelle is retiring in 2019 from her role as Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre and Women’s Interval Home. She has dedicated her career to working passionately for the women, children and families in Sarnia and has stood up against all forms of violence. Her dedication and determination led to successful changes in Provincial legislation because of her participation on numerous committees. Even though she is retiring, Ms. Batty’s “devotion to the eradication of violence in all forms will continue.” The Board Members for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre and the Women’s Interval Home expressed “their heartfelt gratitude to an amazing woman who, in fact, did change the world we live in, for her many years of dedicated service to important causes in our community.”
Mr. Chilton is the author of Canada’s all-time bestseller “The Wealthy Barber”, and appeared for three seasons on “Dragon’s Den.” David has family and friends in Sarnia and over the years has taken part in many fundraising events, often donating his speaking fees, enabling more money to be raised. The Huron House Boys’ Home has numerous times been a recipient of Mr. Chilton’s generosity and this past year, the St. Joseph’s Hospice was the recipient of the proceeds from a speaking event with David Chilton in memory of his friend the late Ron Rivait. The sold-out event was a great success in raising money for a most worthwhile cause. Mr. Chilton always makes himself available to appear in videos promoting the Sarnia area which is greatly appreciated. His generosity with his time has gone a long way in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit the Sarnia community over the years. He is a true friend of Sarnia.
CINDERELLA STORY – DEBBIE ANDERSON
The not-for-profit Cinderella Story began when Debbie Anderson’s daughter passed along a formal dress to a young girl whose family was struggling financially. Certain other girls in the community would be in the same situation Debbie organized a group of volunteers to put the word out for the donation of prom dresses. The first year nine girls were helped. The project grew with the organization providing not only dresses but jewellery and goodie bags and having their photos taken. Chosen dresses were altered when required, steamed and put into garment bags so they could be taken home and ready for the prom. Over the past nine years 625 girls have been helped through the Cinderella Story. This past April 127 girls chose a dress with the assistance from over 40 volunteers. It was a difficult decision to make but the current Board Members of the group decided to step away from the project with the hope that some others would take over the concept. Over 1,200 donated dresses are in storage available to a group looking to take on the project.
Ms. Danby has been involved with the local chapter of the IODE since 1993 in many capacities not only at the local chapter level but also at IODE Provincial (Ontario) and IODE Canada. At the local level she has Co-chaired the Christmas Home Tour from 2007-2016 and worked on the tour with Rotary After Hours in 2017. She gathered together historical data about the IODE for Canada’s 150th Anniversary for Sarnia History. At the national level continues to serve (since 2009) on the IODE Education Committee and the War Memorial Bursary Committee. Through Helen’s many years of involvement with IODE she has tried to promote IODE in Sarnia Lambton to bring awareness that this is a charitable organization helping the community. During the 75th IODE Anniversary, 750 tree seedlings were donated to the public and for the upcoming 80th Anniversary a bench will be donated to the City of Sarnia. In addition to her extensive work with IODE, Ms. Danby has volunteered with the Salvation Army Christmas campaign working several hours a week helping with the Christmas Kettle Campaign, volunteers with MADD and has volunteered in the past with the Petrolia Minor Soccer Association.
Karen King, Wilma Maher, Laura Hardy and Arlene Duckert formed 4Friends in 2013 and were later joined by Marion Burr and Shirley Vanderwilen. This incredible group meets once a week to make mittens from recycled wool sweaters. Every dollar made from selling the mittens is donated directly to Community Living Sarnia. Their goal was to raise $10,000 for Community Living to enable the Agency to purchase a wheelchair accessible van for one of the group homes. 4Friends exceeded that goal and has to date raised just under $15,000 for Community Living. The wheelchair accessible van was purchased in 2016. The van opened up the world for the residents in the group home and has made a positive difference in their lives. Five years later these women are still going strong, raising more and more money for Sarnia Lambton Community Living.
This past Fall Liam appeared on the CBC-TV Show “Canada’s Smartest Person Junior.” An 11-year-old student at Errol Road Public School he was in a group of 1,000 young Canadians who applied to be on the show of which 12 children were selected. Liam made it to the final round. He loves sports and would like to be a hockey or baseball broadcaster someday though he is into politics and has an aspiration to be Prime Minister of Canada. Liam was complimented for his kindness and concern for other competing contestants while on the show. All of Sarnia is very proud of the young citizen representing our City.
Laurie lost her son, Ryan, to a fentanyl overdose in 2015. Working with Detective Constable Mike Howell the Sarnia Patch-for-Patch Programme was launched where pharmacists can only dispense fentanyl patches when patients return their used patches. A bill was passed in Queen’s Park making the Fentanyl Patch Exchange Programme law in Ontario. Laurie was pleased with the results of this programme but, feeling there was still a lack of public education and awareness of what services are available in dealing with this matter, in her role as Project Assistant, Residential Withdrawal Management Services through Bluewater Health, she organized “Addiction and Mental Health Recovery Day and Open House” this past September. Representatives from numerous agencies were available to meet with and answer questions from the public. Addiction is a universal problem. It is in Sarnia and as Laurie has noted there is no “look” to an addict. It can happen to anyone. The public needs much more education and it is Laurie’s determination that by holding such events people will become more knowledgeable.
Ms. Hooghiem has been Co-ordinator for the local Adopt-A-Scientist Programme since 1994 and the Bridge Building Programme since 2003. She has taken the Adopt-A-Scientist Programme from being four volunteers with no experience and no support funding to a very busy group of 19 volunteers with 244 requests during the 2016 school term. The programme is a one-of- a-kind in Canada where retired professionals such as chemists, engineers, computer specialists, and teachers, etc. provide free assistance in the teaching of science subjects to elementary schools by presenting designed hands-on science activities. The volunteers willingly donate their time for the design and construction of the equipment, the experiments and the subsequent presentations. Wendy has a special skill in keeping this group active, seeking funding to cover the costs of materials and transportation, recruiting new volunteers, and supporting new ideas. Her character and leadership skills are the glue that has kept the programme together and being such a success. The Bridge Building activity for elementary school is very popular in Lambton and Kent counties where students in teams build bridges using glued popsicle sticks. The bridges of various designs are tested for load carrying capacity. Strongest bridge wins. Wendy once again co-ordinates the school requests and volunteer participation from local engineers. Wendy has played a crucial role in the management of youth centered programmes which foster education and the pursuit of interest in technical subjects.
Mr. Jagoo is a huge advocate for the City of Sarnia in supporting local charities and businesses. Mr. Jagoo is the father of three beautiful children who were all diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Mr. Jagoo works hard to raise funds for Cystic Fibrosis Canada and to date has raised $400,000. He is also an avid supporter of the Sarnia Sting and has sponsored their “7th Skater” initiative for the past 4 years giving many children the chance to have an integral part in a Sting game. Quietly in the background he supports other causes and charities. Mr. Jagoo’s “love for this city is second only to his love for his family and friends.”
LiUNA LOCAL 1089
LiUNA Local 1089 has made numerous sponsorships and donations to organizations and events in Sarnia. Visions of Harmony Daycare where LiUNA arranged for the donation of a hard surface and provided all labour for a badly needed new parking lot; annually provide for labour and transportation for the teardown of Celebration of Lights; partnered with the Sarnia Sting to provide thousands of free tickets for the “Do It For Lucien” Sting Game which raised money for Lucien Nadeau who is suffering from a rare form of brain cancer; Gold Sponsor of the Bluewater Heath Foundation Gala; Gold Sponsor for Noelle’s Gift; make annual donations to the St. Joseph’s Hospice; and a $250,000 donation to Bluewater Health to create a separate child and youth Mental Health Wing. LiUNA sponsors dozens of youth sports teams and provides their arena suite to charitable organizations for their use. LiUNA gives back to their community many times over.
Lee is a legendary broadcaster who retired at the end of 2018. For 40 years she shared the news, weather and sports with Sarnia Lambton in her folksy, opinionated style that was loved by many. Lee is also a humanitarian, who for many years now has been working to better the lives of people living in Cuba.
Mr. Morrison, teacher at St. Patrick’s High School (and previously St. Christopher’s) goes above and beyond what is asked in the education curriculum to involve his students in current events, government and politics of the day. For the past six years a citizenship court has been held at St. Pat’s where Mr. Morrison’s Grade 10 class is able to view the event. This came about through Blake’s long-standing friendship with Justice George Springate. Justice Springate advised if the school could meet certain requirements established by the Citizenship and Immigration then he would travel to Sarnia for the ceremony. This past year 35 new Canadians took their citizenship oath in St. Pat’s gym which was transformed into a citizenship court. Having the citizenship court at the high school allows students and others to welcome new Canadians to their new country but also educates students on the importance of citizenship as part of their mandatory civic courses about Canadian citizenship and responsibility.
ROBERT AND MARION ROUND
Robert and Marion, lifelong Sarnia residents, began their remarkable journey in roller skating at Rose Garden Roller Skating Rink and at the Sarnia Arena while they were in high school. They progressed as successful competitors while skating in competitions in Port Huron. They took time off from the sport they loved to raise a family. In 1951 they resumed roller skating as amateur competitors with a club in Hamilton. Now 51 years of age, they faced competitors many years younger. Practicing from 11:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. three nights per weeks at roller rinks in Port Huron and Hamilton over a four-year period, their determination and devotion to the sport rewarded them with winning Ontario Championship Gold Medals in Original Dance and Dance Set Pattern in 1987 and 1988. They also went on to become Gold Medal Roller Skating Dance Champions of Canada in those same years. In 1988 they attended a National Awards Dinner in Toronto and were honoured along with Mike Weir and Elizabeth Manley for their great accomplishments in their respective sports in Canada. In 1989 the Rounds were honoured to be chosen to participate in the opening ceremonies of the Skydome.
ST. PATRICK’S HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS OF ART, CONSTRUCTION, MANUFACTURING & DESIGN
Under the guidance of their teachers (Matt Abbott, Mike Adams, Rich Prudom, Kelly Gordon) students in the class of Art, Construction, Manufacturing & Design, constructed a replica of the historic Sarnia cenotaph. The detail of the replica was incredible. When the citizens of Sarnia, especially the veterans, walked into the Sarnia Arena this past November 11th to view or participate in the special 100th Anniversary ceremony of the end of World War I, they were in awe of what they saw. It was touching to see these St. Pat’s students care so much about the service and sacrifice of the veterans’ service to Canada.
Lou, a local photographer, volunteers his photo taking abilities for numerous community events such as the Terry Fox Run, Kidney Foundation, Light Up the Night for Noelle, Huron House Boys’ Home, Celebration of Lights, Sarnia Canada Day Celebrations, ARTZscape, Kinsmen Santa Claus Parade, Rotary Art in the Park, Kinsmen Ribfest, Sexual Assault Survivor’s Centre, International Symphony Orchestra, Jazz and Blues in the Village, Organization for Literacy to name just a few—and this was just for 2018. Some of the listed events he has attended for more than 10 years. Lou has always been a supporter of the veterans and in 2018 photographed six Remembrance Day events for the Legion and Cadets. He has volunteered for YourTV/Cogeco for over a decade and many of his photos can be seen on YourTV.
Mr. Stewart has been a long-time community supporter in Sarnia. Active for many years with the RCAF Association 403 Wing he is involved in the organization of Remembrance Day services at the cenotaph. He was the driving force behind the F86 Sabre monument in Germain Park. John is a retired Colonel in the RCAFA. He is a member of the Rotary Club and participates in the Annual Labour Day parade as a judge. John never declines an invitation to help with any community activity.
Mr. Thibert is very active in the community through Scouting where he has been a Leader with the 23rd Scouting Cub Pack since 2011. In 2016 when the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community was looking to develop a Beaver Scout Programme, Douglas volunteered as a leader and was involved in the planning, organizing and running of weekly meetings during the initial crucial stages. The programme was successful and continues to run in the community. He has participated in the Scouting’s Hike for Hunger food drive and has volunteered for many years to assist with the delivery of Christmas hampers by the Salvation Army. Douglas volunteers with numerous Scouting events including running a jamboree each May which attracts 800 participants from Ontario and Michigan. In 2017 he participated in a Brotherhood Project with Scouts Canada in Uganda. He was the youth leader for this project, leading a team of 11 for a two-week trip to Uganda in building a small dorm and building a spring well to provide clean, fresh water for a village of 1,000 people. Douglas took on critical roles in the fundraising and arranging for transportation for the group. Douglas has accomplished this all while in his early 20s and continues to do so.
AL AND MICHELLE WEISS
The “Al Weiss and Friends” concert held in October 2018 at the Imperial Theatre raised $38,000—the donation divided between Bluewater Health Mammography Department and Breast Cancer Society of Canada. The fundraising concerts began following Michelle’s onset of breast cancer in 2012/2013. The four concerts held raised a total of $90,000. Al and Michelle have organized all aspects of the event from the music, the musicians, sponsors and donors. Similar events might have five to ten people working on sub-organizing committees, but Al and Michelle do it themselves “working from our kitchen table”. The organizing is year around and the Weiss’s decided the 2018 concert was their final concert. The community’s response to the concerts has been remarkable.