Government House Crest

For Immediate Release
January 23, 2014

Lieutenant Governor to present Governor General’s
Caring Canadian Award to 24 volunteers

VICTORIA — On behalf of His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, will present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 24 volunteers from British Columbia on Friday, January 24, 2014, at 2:30 p.m., during a ceremony at Government House.

Following the ceremony, recipients and their guests will have the opportunity to visit It’s An Honour!, a new travelling exhibit about the Canadian Honours System that is now making its way across the country. Making a stop at Government House on that day, the exhibit will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

About the Caring Canadian Award

Created in 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad. Often working behind the scenes, these individuals volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow citizens.

About It’s An Honour! travelling exhibit

Mounted in a specially designed 1,000 square foot vehicle, the exhibit showcases stories of great Canadians who have been recognized for their extraordinary achievements with national honours such as the Order of Canada, Decorations for Bravery and Military Valour Decorations. Featuring interpretative panels, multimedia elements and artefacts, this unique space provides an opportunity for visitors to learn more about these honours through an interactive learning experience. For more information, please visit

The ceremony schedule and the list of recipients, as well as a fact sheet on the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award are attached.

Media Contact:
Adrienne Dunton
2:30 p.m. Ceremony begins
Lieutenant Governor presents the awards
Remarks by the Lieutenant Governor
3:15 p.m. Ceremony ends
3:20 p.m. Interviews with recipients
4:00 p.m. Recipients visit the It’s An Honour! exhibit
Eric Adamson Richmond
Hideo Araki Hope
Amrik Singh Aulakh Surrey
Raghbir Singh Bains Surrey
Dr. Brian Geoffrey Carr-Harris Victoria
Shala Chandani North Vancouver
Betty Coleman Victoria
Sarina Di Martino Derksen Abbotsford
James Kenneth Fraser Vancouver
Martin Holtz Vancouver
Anne-Marie Koeppen Thetis Island
Maria Manna Victoria
ZoAnn Morten North Vancouver
William (Bill) Nicholishen New Westminster
David (Dave) Obee Saanich
Dr. Kimit Rai New Westminster
Gurpiar Singh Romana Abbotsford
Lieutenant Ronald Shore Abbotsford
Helen Sidney Vernon
Margaret Sutton Dawson Creek
Edith Tobe Squamish
Joan P. Toone North Saanich
Tannis Eileen Wightman Victoria
Jody Woodford Coalmont


Eric Adamson - Richmond, British Columbia
A volunteer since the age of 18, Eric Adamson has collaborated with Community Night Watch Service, the police station front desk, the local bike patrol, and the RCMP Aboriginal Policing Section. He helped organize the annual Aboriginal Policing Service Canoe Journey for at-risk Aboriginal youth and the Unity Run — which supports suicide prevention among Aboriginal young people. Eric Adamson is both a resource and role model for hundreds of aboriginal youth.

Hideo (Ed) Araki - Hope, British Columbia
A volunteer firefighter since 1956, Ed Araki has dedicated over 40 years to his community, from being a minor hockey, baseball and softball coach to ensuring participation and access to affordable recreation, culture and sport services through his membership at Hope and District Recreation, Culture and Airpark Commission. In 2000, he joined the Hope District Crime Prevention Society where he researched crime prevention techniques, organized training courses for other volunteers, patrolled high crime areas and recruited volunteers. There is a saying in the town of Hope, if you need something done, call Ed Araki.

Amrik Singh Aulakh - Surrey, British Columbia
Amrik Aulakh has volunteered with many organizations within his community: the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, Citizens Crime Watch Patrol, as well as traffic safety and speed watch programs. He is also a regular blood donor, and has long assisted new immigrants, seniors, and those on low incomes to submit their income taxes, a crucial point of entry to access social support services.

Raghbir Singh Bains - Surrey, British Columbia
Since 1990, Dr. Bains has worked tirelessly as a volunteer, community activist and educator to promote intercultural understanding and mutual respect. He has raised funds and mobilized support for the Children’s Hospital of Vancouver, the local United Way, the Surrey-Delta Indo-Canadian Senior’s Centre and Alcoholics Anonymous groups, inter alia. He has also spoken at seminars and conferences in Canada and India on topics such as HIV/AIDS awareness, bullying, racial discrimination and drug abuse.

Brian Geoffrey Carr-Harris - Victoria, British Columbia
A leader with Scouts Canada for over 45 years, Brian Carr-Harris has helped enrich the lives of children by providing them with opportunities to travel, camp, hike, and build life skills. For the past seven years, he has also served with the Friends of Mengo Hospital Canada, supporting the work of a Ugandan hospital and in particular its programs for those affected by HIV/AIDS.

Shala Chandani - North Vancouver, British Columbia
For 20 years, Shala Chandani has helped new immigrants integrate into Canadian society. A woman with a deep sense of social responsibility, she volunteers within the Ismaili community and the community at large. Recently, she was appointed to the National Ismaili Council, where she now coordinates the work of volunteers across Canada.

Betty Coleman - Victoria, British Columbia and Brandon, Manitoba
Betty Coleman believes in fostering the potential of young Canadians. She helped found the Brandon Army Cadet Corps and was involved with it for many years. She was a sponsor of HMCS Brandon, a leader with Girl Guides Canada, a member of the Brandon Military Ball Committee, and president of both the Brandon General Hospital Auxiliary and the Brandon Kinette Club.

Sarina Di Martino Derksen - Abbotsford, British Columbia
Sarina Derksen believes in building bridges when issues divide us. She is the co-founder and national executive coordinator of Cycling4Diversity, a four day ride through nine cities to celebrate our differences and build inclusive communities. She has also been actively involved in the GirlKind Foundation and is known for mobilizing pharmacies and medical supply stores to send antibiotics, bandages and pain relief to those affected by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

James Kenneth Fraser - Vancouver, British Columbia
James Fraser began volunteering with competitive ballroom dancing in 1976. Since then, he has served on local, national and international DanceSport Federations. He was instrumental in the formation of the SnowBall Classic, the first North American competition sanctioned by the World DanceSport Federation and now one of the largest competitions in Canada. James Fraser’s volunteer work also extends to Sharing Our Future Foundation, the Rotary-Club of Burnaby-Metro town, and the Vancouver Bach Choir.

Martin Holtz - Vancouver, British Columbia
Martin Holtz came to Canada as an immigrant many years ago and since then has been committed to giving back to his adopted country. He has lived in many communities, including Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver, and has given back as a volunteer in all of them. Still an active volunteer today, Martin Holtz now contributes his time and experiences to the Cavell Gardens Retirement Residence in Vancouver.

Anne-Marie Koeppen - Thetis Island, British Columbia and Edmonton, Alberta
Anne-Marie Koeppen spent 20 years as an administrator of volunteers in Alberta. She has served with the Lamont County Community Adult Learning Council, Volunteer Cowichan, Volunteer BC, the United Way Cowichan, the Duncan Business Association and the South Island Community Connection Council. Her actions behind the scenes inspire volunteerism in her community and enable others to succeed.

Maria Manna - Victoria, British Columbia
A jazz singer with a busy performance schedule, Maria Manna also gives back to her community. She was one of the founders of the Universal Jazz Advocates and Mentors Society, which acts as a resource for young musicians in the community. She also raises funds for charities through her appearances at community events.

Zo Ann Morten - North Vancouver, British Columbia
Zo Ann Morten keeps one foot in the creek and the other under the boardroom table. As executive director of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, she is dedicated to incorporating stream protection into new policy and projects throughout the province of British Columbia. She is also a founding volunteer member of the North Shore Streamkeepers and Morten Creek Salmon Enhancement Project. Zo Ann Morten has made science easy to understand and approachable, and has trained many other volunteer stewards to protect habitat and wildlife.

William (Bill) Nicholishen - New Westminster, British Columbia
For over 12 years Bill Nicholishen volunteered at Bear Creek Park as a park facilitator, and before that at campgrounds throughout British Columbia. Although he no longer returns to the Park, his work lives on: those who know him remember his love of the wilderness and praise the man who always offered a helping hand to a camper in tough straits.

David (Dave) Obee - Saanich, British Columbia
David Obee is committed to preserving British Columbia’s genealogical and historical records. A member of several genealogical and historical societies, he is well known as a speaker and author. He is particularly regarded as a champion of placing early records online, notably through which, by making available100,000 pages from the oldest newspaper in British Columbia, has revolutionized historical and genealogical research.

Kimit Rai - New Westminster, British Columbia
Kimit Rai is the founder of Operation Rainbow Canada, which provides free reconstructive surgery for those with cleft palates in developing countries. Through Operation Rainbow Canada, Dr. Rai has not only helped many children and young adults, he has also offered a learning opportunity for doctors and medical support staff to develop their own surgical skills.

Gurpiar Singh Romana - Vancouver, British Columbia
Since 1983, Gurpiar Romana has been involved with the Dasmesh Punjabi School, which teaches Punjabi and Sikh Studies to children. His long engagement with this initiative is how he puts into action his belief in the importance of respecting and preserving family heritage.

Ronald Shore - Vancouver, British Columbia
From a young age, Ronald Shore has volunteered in his community. Since he was a child, at the side of his father, he has now been involved with the Abbotsford Airshow for 40 years. A recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award, he is also now on the board of the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award Society.

Helen Sidney - Vernon, British Columbia
A retired teacher, Helen Sidney is the dessert and pastry chef at Vernon’s Schubert Centre for seniors, where she has volunteered for over 18 years. She arrives early five days a week to bake the breakfast muffins and pastries, and she never leaves without giving a hand with the dishes and the clean-up. Helen Sidney gives nourishment and inspiration to her community.

Margaret Sutton - Dawson Creek, British Columbia
Margaret Sutton’s commitment to her community is inspiring. She is actively involved with the South Peace Seniors Access Services Society, the CNIB, Ark Christian Youth Centre and the Young Life Christian Organization. She also goes above and beyond to help her neighbours by offering rides to doctor's appointments, making food for those in crisis or visiting them while in hospital. Her spirit and generosity has enriched the lives of many in her city.

Edith Tobe - Squamish, British Columbia
Edith Tobe has long raised public awareness of the importance of a healthy ecosystem in Squamish and throughout the Sea to Sky Corridor. As a volunteer, she has helped develop education programs for elementary schools, restored wildlife habitat and mentored youth in enacting social change. She has also created working partnerships between multiple levels of government, First Nations groups and community organizations. Her many endeavours make her a role model of environmental stewardship.

Joan P. Toone - North Saanich, British Columbia
Joan Toone has been involved with the Post-Polio Awareness and Support Society of British Columbia since 1988. Affected by polio when she was young, she has become an advocate for others suffering from this disease. Notably, she also initiated a Member Medical Assistance Program which provides assistive devices to polio survivors who otherwise could not afford them. Her objective is to empower others to triumph over the disease.

Tannis Eileen Wightman - Victoria, British Columbia
Tannis Wightman began volunteering in high school with the Red Cross during the Second World War. Since then, she has given her time to organizations in Ottawa, Vancouver and Lahr, Germany. Most recently, she helped operate a second hand charity store and volunteered at Woodwynn Farm, a therapeutic community for the homeless. Tannis Wightman has led a life dedicated to the service of her community and her country.

Jody Woodford - Coalmont and Tulameen, British Columbia
Jody Woodford joined the Coalmont/Tulameen Volunteer Fire Department in 1998 and became Fire Chief in 2008. Through her work, she has put the department on a sound financial footing and enabled it to respond to a variety of crisis situations. Her unpaid efforts as a volunteer firefighter lift spirits in times of crisis.


When the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada, he was determined to thank the thousands of caring people who give so much to their fellow citizens — the unsung heroes who volunteer their time, their efforts and a great deal of their lives to helping others, and who ask for nothing in return. In 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created.

The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character.

Eligibility criteria

The award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.

Nomination process

Nominations can be made directly through the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. They will be received by the Chancellery of Honours and reviewed by the advisory committee which will make recommendations to the governor general. There is no deadline for submissions. Nominations are accepted throughout the year.

If you know a friend, neighbour or member of your community who deserves this unique award, please share their stories by completing a nomination form at

Description of the award

The award’s emblem represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others. The maple leaf symbolizes the people of Canada and their spirit; the heart depicts the open-heartedness of volunteers; and the outstretched hand portrays boundless generosity. The blue and gold colours, which appear on the viceregal flag, indicate the award’s connection with the governor general.

The Caring Canadian Award consists of a certificate and a lapel pin presented to recipients by the governor general or by lieutenant governors, territorial commissioners, mayors or partner organizations. Where this is impossible or if a recipient requests an early presentation for personal reasons, the award will be sent by mail.