Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley continued with a long-standing tradition of releasing an “Honour List,” which was established by the late Mayor Marceil Saddy in 1981.
The list, wrote Bradley in an introduction sent to media, “as always, is a highly personal list, based on my own observations throughout the year in the community, nominations from citizens and media stories.”
Bradley calls the list “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.”
The following, unedited, is Bradley’s list along with his description:
Emily, a school teacher and life-long social justice advocate, became involved in wanting to help Syrian refugees after seeing their images on television trying to escape from their country. She headed up the St. Michael and Sacred Heart Refugee Ministry and, through fundraising efforts, a Syrian family came to Sarnia under their sponsorship.
The sponsorship involves not only setting up their lives but providing ongoing assistance and guidance. Money was used to provide clothing, setting up a household, and food. Emily has gone out into the community speaking at the Lambton Refugee Sponsorship Network Forum and local service clubs citing the successes, challenges and satisfaction in sponsoring Syrian families and to encourage others to become involved. In her presentations she notes that the Syrian people had careers, families and hobbies that they left in their home country. They often arrive with their only possessions in garbage bags. They are people with hopes and aspirations and are not charity cases. Emily’s dedication and efforts have gone a long way in enabling refugee families to become settled in and a part of their new community.
GREG BOYLE AND RICHARD PONIC
Greg and Richard, owners of the Tim Hortons location on Exmouth near Front Street, are recognized for their ongoing commitment to hiring persons with disabilities to work in the business. The gentlemen became aware of hiring persons with disabilities when attending an Ontario Rotary education programme. After learning about the potential of the disabled in the workforce at an event hosted by the Rotary Club of Sarnia, they contacted Community Living Sarnia Lambton and the Job Start programme through the Salvation Army when they had a job vacancy. Greg and Richard have hired over eight people with disabilities.
Evan, an 11-year-old student at Bright’s Grove Public School, successfully raised $5,000 in 2016 towards the purchase of first aid kits for a new clinic being built in Gaali, Zambia. Some of the medical kits were delivered to Zambia as part of the Enactus Lambton at Lambton College. Evan became aware of the project to build a medical clinic in Gaali when he met with a member of Enactus, an entrepreneurship organization led by college students. It is expected the clinic will administer to 4,000 people and cut the walking time to the clinic for many people from three hours down to 45 minutes.
Evan set a fundraising goal of $5,000. Making presentations at local service clubs; setting up an information booth during his school’s talent show and at Bright’s Grove Canada Day; creating his own Facebook page and website were just some of the ways he brought public awareness to his campaign. Evan said you don’t have to be an adult or filthy rich to help others. “It’s about heart.”
RANDY EVANS AND TOM ST. AMAND – STREETS OF SARNIA PROJECT
In 2014 Messrs. Evans and St. Amand volunteered to undertake the task of researching and updating the history of Sarnia’s street names. What began as a thought-to-be six month project turned into two years as Randy and Tom became two modern-day historical detectives, never assuming why a street was named, and always searching for supporting evidence.
Readers of Streets of Sarnia will learn not only why the street was named but also by whom, with historical background, giving context and colour to the name. In addition to contacting local resources such as the media, Registry Office, Sarnia Library, City Hall, and speaking with area residents, they also contacted people from around the world to research a name and its history. Randy and Tom are being honoured for their dedication to preserving and enhancing Sarnia’s history and for leaving a legacy for this generation and future generations of the history of our streets.
LINDA M. GRYNER
Linda has been a very active member in the IODE for the past 16 years working in the IODE store on Maxwell Street. When the organization was forced to move she was a leader in finding a new location. Always looking to find new ways to fundraise, Linda was instrumental in establishing the Annual IODE Christmas Home Tours 10 years ago. She searches for decorators and homeowners to participate each year; organizes meetings throughout the year with the decorators and homeowners; and shortly before the tour she organizes a “meet and greet” social with the homeowners and their assigned decorators.
With the assistance of fellow IODE Members the tours are held over two days with members serving as hostesses in each home. Linda puts together the advertising for the print media to promote the event each year. In the past 10 years over 1,200 tickets have been sold each year enabling the IODE to give large donations where most needed in the community. Linda has gone on to serve as Vice President at the Provincial level of IODE.
KINSMEN CLUB OF SARNIA
The Kinsmen Club is being honoured for their many years of community work and especially their ongoing dedication to organizing the Kinsmen Club of Sarnia Annual Christmas Parade. The parade is a highlight every year where thousands of citizens of all ages from Sarnia and area, line Christina Street to view the parade. Many hours of work is involved in gathering together floats and the marching bands, some who travel from Michigan, to participate in the parade. It is a year-long event in the sense that as soon as the parade finishes, plans begin to stage next year’s event.
LAMBTON OUTDOOR CLUB
The year 2016 marks the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the Lambton Outdoor Club. What began in 1991 with a group of hikers, paddlers and cyclists meeting and deciding on a name—Lambton Outdoor Club—the membership has grown from 60 to 320. Year round activities are organized, with the paddlers and cyclists taking time off, which suit all interests. Workshops are conducted for cycling, paddling, snow shoeing, winter camping, cross country skiing and dogsledding. A 25th Anniversary Day celebration was held with a gathering on the Howard Watson Nature Trail and the dedication of a bench to allow walkers to take a break.
Mr. Lamoureux, as Chairperson of Information Sarnia Lambton, is responsible in keeping the information of local services in Lambton County up to date. In turn he provides this information to Ontario 211, a province-wide network which provides a database for information services to the public. Norm also offers his computer expertise in assisting residents who attend the Central United Church’s Computer Drop-In Centre. For many years now Norm has assisted the public who stop by the centre in the church during the twice weekly sessions, answering questions, sharing his knowledge of computers and socializing. As well Norm volunteers his time at the Inn of the Good Shepherd and as a camera man with COGECO Community TV.
LAWRENCE HOUSE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Mission Statement for The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts reads as follows: “The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts is a community-based, independent, not for profit, charitable organization committed to encouraging the creation and appreciation of the visual, performing and literary arts in Sarnia Lambton.” Three years ago the Centre faced closure due to a number of issues but with the perseverance of Leonard Segall and Lynne Brogden, who searched the community for new board members, the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts is once again a flourishing success. The Centre with its volunteers was able to extend their hours, open a gift shop to enable the public to purchase the crafts from local artisans and to conduct a children’s art programme. With the new Board’s guidance and re-organization, revenue from room rentals, memberships, and art rentals and sales play a part in allowing the Centre to stay open. The Centre allows artists to get together and share ideas and because of the determination and knowledge of the new Board of Directors, the Centre was brought back from the verge of being shuttered.
With the announcement that SCITS High School was scheduled to close and the students would be moved to St. Clair High School, Susan led the “Save SCITS” Campaign to try and keep the high school open. She also created the Ontario Alliance Against School Closures (OAASC) which has grown to represent more than 850,000 in an area from Sarnia, north to Sudbury and east to the Ontario/Quebec border. Through OAASC people express their concern about the process now in place for the closing of schools. It is a process Susan believes does not take into account what is good for the community as a whole. Susan has attended rallies in Queen’s Park, trying to get the message across that the closing of schools leads to longer bus rides for more students and cutting into after school activities. Closed schools left abandoned leads to an economic impact on the community, the surrounding neighbourhood and families not wanting to move into areas lacking schools. Her goal is to have a moratorium on the closing of any more schools until there is a review of the current policy. Susan is being recognized for her dedication in trying to keep schools open and for the betterment of the communities affected.
MEL AND SHIRLEY MATTHEWS
Mel and Shirley operate a youth bowling programme on Saturday mornings. The programme is open to all young people including youth who are diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Everyone is treated with respect and encouragement to gain competence in a sport where many adults don’t ever gain even the slightest proficiency. The youth are encouraged to go onto Provincial tournaments to bowl with others in their calibre. The Matthews have assisted in keeping a group of kids on the “straight and narrow”. They are committed fully to contribute to the youth of Sarnia-Lambton.
Kyle is a youth mental health champion who has been an avid volunteer for many years since his secondary school days. In recent time he has been involved with Let’s Face It Project at Lambton College and has been a leader in championing the cause to stop the stigma against mental illness. Kyle is a peer leader and regularly gives presentations to secondary school students about the necessary tools required to transition to post-secondary life in order to attend to one’s mental wellness. Kyle also is a member of the St. Clair Child and Youth Centre Board of Directors, volunteers in his spare time with Sarnia Speaks. He is a role model for many people.
Jeff, who works with Community Legal Assistance Sarnia, began as a volunteer at the legal clinic in 2010. He understood the distrust and apprehension that many of the First Nations people had with legal systems but he began developing an outreach programme to assist clients. His understanding and honesty allowed him to connect with First Nations’ clients to build a trust and be part of the process. Clients can relate to his lived experience and also see that he does not judge anyone. His dedication to “Walking Together” with clients throughout the whole access to justice process has become well-known and those utilizing services express gratitude. Mr. Plain worked on the Sarnia Save Jail Committee and his efforts played a vital role in the Province reversing its decision to close the jail. Mr. Plain has assisted Hamilton Community Legal Clinic with the development of their aboriginal outreach programme. Mr. Plain believes strongly in assisting the youth population with legal information and services as they begin the walk to success. Mr. Plain is a proud Anishinabe man who is humble in his achievements which make his dedication and service especially worthy.
Sharon is a tireless retiree who gives much of her time to community projects. Sharon is the Co-Chair for the Sarnia Lambton Suicide Prevention Committee where she has been instrumental with many activities in this organization. For the past few years she has been educating and training many volunteers throughout Lambton County with Safe Talk (a three-hour awareness course on knowing the signs of suicide). Sharon was instrumental in writing grants to secure an Administration Co-ordinator for the committee and also was involved in co-ordinating World Suicide Prevention Day. She is actively involved with Working Together for Kids Mental Health where she has been leading the task for a co-ordinated effort to address suicide prevention, early identification, intervention, and post-intervention. Sharon is involved with many other committees which address children and youth health in Sarnia.
SARNIA GOLF & CURLING CLUB CHARITY PRO AM COMMITTEE
The Sarnia Golf & Curling Club Charity Pro Am Committee celebrated its 40th tournament in 2016. In the 40 years over $417,000 was raised. The dedication, hard work and ongoing commitment of the committee members over the years has enabled the funds raised through the tournament to be put back into the community to assist organizations such as the Sarnia Rotary Children’s Fund; the Lambton Shrine Club; Big Brothers; Sarnia Firefighters (Muscular Dystrophy); Heart & Stroke Foundation; Lambton Hospital Foundation; S.O.D.A.; and the Kidney Foundation. The Committee members are recognized for their dedication to the betterment of the community.
The year 2015 marked the launch of the South West International Film Festival, known as SWIFF. The idea of a film festival in Sarnia was launched by former resident Ravi Srinivasan who is a programming associate with the Toronto International Film Festival. The first year was a great success with film director and former Sarnia resident Patricia Rozema attending along with a number of up and coming film directors. Screenings were held at the Imperial Theatre. Buoyed by the success of the first year and Ravi’s commitment to expand arts and culture in the community and to continue to bring well-known artists to Sarnia or bring them back to their hometown, SWIFF was once again organized by Ravi. Over four days in 2016, 12 feature films and two short film programmes were shown at the Imperial Theatre as well as live music events, workshops and an exhibition at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery. Attendance increased over the first year’s Festival and Ravi is already organizing SWIFF 2017.
DONNA STEWART – (POSTHUMOUSLY)
Donna was described as being one of those unknown, unheard heroes in the community. She worked for many years in the office of St. Luke’s United Church; was a volunteer and executive member with the Sarnia Starfires Girls Hockey Programme and was a longstanding Board Member of the Sarnia Organ Donor Awareness Association. Born and raised in Sarnia she was the heart and soul of SODA’s successful Jazz & Blues in the Village event. Tens of thousands of dollars has been raised through this event to assist transplant patients and families in Sarnia-Lambton. The event just completed its 13th year. When asked to comment on the success of the event, she would always direct the recognition to others, praising the work of her fellow volunteers. She was described as being “A very, very special lady. She embraced life and fought hard.” Donna passed away in the summer of 2016 but the SODA Committee will continue forward to carry on what Donna started.
For many years now Anita has been a passionate advocate for safe bike riding in the community. In addition she has been a Team Captain for a large contingent of riders who participate in the Annual MS Ride from Grand Bend to London. Anita is very much committed to organizing her team and goes to considerable lengths to make the event enjoyable for riders of all ages and abilities. In 2016 over $50,000 was raised by her team and during her time as Captain, her team has raised over $300,000 for the MS Society. Anita’s 2016 team had the largest number of riders with 90.
Mr. Wager has served on the Sarnia Heritage Committee since 1985 and currently serves as Chairperson of the Committee. He works each year along with fellow Committee members in organizing a display of heritage buildings that Sarnians can view during Heritage Week. When the rail tunnel mural was on the verge of being removed due to the need for major restoration, Wayne led the way to see that the mural was preserved. Wayne is very passionate about preserving Sarnia’s history.
Dr. Wells came to Sarnia in 1955 from Alberta to teach math at SCITS. Over the years he became Director of Education for the public school board. Later he served as Administrator for the Community Awareness Emergency Response (CAER), and taught at Lambton College. His community work included being Chairperson of the United Way, and serving as secretary of the Annual Central Forum Speaker Series. He volunteered with minor hockey and soccer programmes in Sarnia and with the Bluewater Buccaneers Marching Band. Dr. Wells and his wife recently moved to Oshawa to be closer to family. His many years of living in Sarnia had a great impact on not only the people he taught but on those he worked with in the community.