Table of contents

2021 Award recipients

In December, these outstanding recipients were recognized through an online ceremony.

Youth category

  • Photo of Garrison Dyck, Edmonton

    Garrison Dyck, Edmonton

    Perhaps it is through the time spent helping his grandmother deal with the physical challenges she deals with daily that inspired Garrison Dyck to extend that helping hand out to the most vulnerable in his community and beyond. Whatever the reason may be, this 22-year-old Edmontonian continues to be motivated to help those most in need and by his example, is motivating others to community service.

    In the last year, Garrison, despite the heavy course load as a University of Alberta student, has contributed almost 600 hours of volunteer service, often forgoing personal activities with friends and family to honour his volunteer commitments in support of a number of vital community programs. Supporting the health needs of those in the inner city has become a focus of Garrison’s volunteer activity and has fuelled his desire to pursue a medical career working with marginalized populations. As student lead, Garrison is using his research skills - and time spent working in an opioid use disorder clinic – to design a public education program to help community volunteers respond to the growing issue of drug poisoning. Garrison has collaborated with physicians, outreach workers, and people with lived experience in addictions to develop a reference manual to equip frontline volunteers with the knowledge to respond to victims of drug overdose. The manual also includes an inventory of available supports for those dealing with addictions, serving as a key resource to help to volunteers talk with people about substance abuse and direct them to the help they need.

    Volunteering with the Streetworks medical team, Garrison is involved with overdose response support, monitoring and distributing safe drug and sex supplies, and delivering drug and STI education. In this role, Garrison also helps community members connect with healthcare and social services such as substance use disorder supports and treatments, pregnancy support programs, housing, counselling/mental health services, Indigenous services, and income support.

    As a volunteer with the Edmonton Water Warriors, Garrison raises funds and helps in the weekly delivery of food, water, clothing and health supplies to the city’s homeless population. The Water Warriors are also working to create a safe, inclusive space for unhoused Indigenous peoples who feel unsafe or unwelcome in those shelters that are available. The experience has helped in building more trusting relationships as well as Garrison’s understanding and commitment to Edmonton’s diverse community of marginalized citizens.

    From fundraising in support of diabetes and cancer research, to volunteering in support of medical research projects and mentoring high school students struggling with online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Garrison responds to the needs of those in his community with action, helping to bring a bit light into the lives of those around him…something that volunteer Stars do best!

    Nominated by: Sandra Stoddard, Elk island Public Schools

  • Photo of John Christy Johnson, Edmonton

    John Christy Johnson, Edmonton

    It wouldn’t take a researcher very long to identify John Christy Johnson as a volunteer star. Despite his youth, John has already made his mark as an author, scientist, biomedical engineer, medical student, and health researcher…and all before his 24th birthday.

    Recognizing how the COVID-19 pandemic was impacting the learning opportunities of his fellow researchers, John co-founded the AIC National COVID-19 Volunteer Initiative, recruiting over 100 fellow student volunteers from across Canada. Through the program, volunteers offered their talents in support of meaningful research projects and in return, were able to further their own professional development. To date, the initiative has resulted in over 150 books, audio books, scientific articles and conference presentations and furthering the work of the scientific community.

    While the list of organizations having benefited from John’s volunteer service is long and laudable, it his work within the disabled community that perhaps shines forth most brilliantly.

    A biomedical engineering graduate student, John has leveraged his growing knowledge and expertise to work on behalf of those struggling with disabilities and mental illness and has resulted in the creation of two researched-based social enterprises. UMove was created based on an idea to transform decommissioned wheelchairs into wheelchair trainers while John’s other venture, Click&Push Accessibility, has produced an app that helps wheelchair users chart accessible routes around their community in advance of the trip.

    For disabled scientists, veterans, students, athletes and artists who have set their sites on a journey far beyond their own communities, John has also offered up his talents as a communicator to support of Mission Astro Access. The project is an international effort aimed at expanding the scope of accessibility into space by identify candidates for a historic parabolic flight where they will experience weightlessness as they carry out experiments and observations in conditions simulating lunar and zero gravity. The project will help researchers identify what modifications would be necessary to facilitate space travel for the disabled.

    John’s dedication and commitment have inspired a new generation of highly skilled volunteers and opened new avenues of exploration for those whose abilities are too often overshadowed by disability. For helping those in their journeys both here on earth and in the vastness of the skies above, John Christy Johnson is a worthy Stars of Alberta Volunteer Award recipient.

    Nominated by: Austin Mardon, Antarctic Institute of Canada

Adult category

  • Photo of Clayton Bos, Medicine Hat

    Clayton Bos, Medicine Hat

    Like a lot of parents, Clayton introduction to volunteerism was helping out with his own children’s activities, but if there is such a thing as a “volunteerism bug”, Clayton caught it! Blending his passion for engineering and the sciences with his volunteerism, Clayton demonstrates his philosophy that volunteering is essential to helping communities become more sustainable and contributing to a more connected world.

    Each year, Clayton contributes an average of 500 volunteer hours in support of a wide range of projects and activities. As Dean of the School of Arts, Science and Education at Medicine Hat College, it is not surprising that a focus of Clayton’s volunteerism is sharing the joy of scientific discovery and learning. And as a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) and chair of the organization for three years, Clayton is well positioned to help budding scientists in that journey of discovery.

    Bos engages youth in a wide array of science demonstrations, always willing to take time out to share with students his knowledge and engineering experience. Consider it training for another of Clayton’s volunteer activities, the APEGA Science Olympics. Students in grades one through 12 are given a series of problem-solving challenges that combine fun and learning and allow students to see how science impacts our daily lives.

    Whether it is tutoring students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics, contributing to the Kiwanis Science Fair or a playing host to international high school students through the Canadian Homestay Network, Clayton is always willing to step up in support of youth education. And knowing that there is more to life than study, he has also offered up his time and talents to support local sport, a driving force behind fundraising and event planning and serving as an Ambassador for the Alberta Winter Games. Add to that stints as chair of the Medicine Hat High School Booster Club and 15 years of volunteer service with APEGA, and it’s easy to see where those 500 hours go each year!

    As one committed to life-long learning, Clayton is inspiring a new generation and arming them with the tools to explore the world around them and realize their academic dreams. A volunteer Star helping students navigate a pathway to success!

    Nominated by: Shirley Layne, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)

  • Photo of Bev Lanz, Lethbridge

    Bev Lanz, Lethbridge

    It’s unlikely that Bev Lanz is going to end her contributions toward building a stronger, more prosperous Lethbridge anytime soon. But if she did, she could do so knowing that she has already helped to put the southern Alberta city on the path to a brighter future.

    In her five years as volunteer on the board of the Lethbridge and District Exhibition, Bev has successfully guided one of the city’s most valued institutions through a period of transitional change. A true leader, Bev has never failed to put in anything less than her best efforts and by her example, has inspired those around her to do the same. That hard work and Bev’s unwavering commitment to her community, the board and team at the Exhibition were pivotal in securing nearly $71 million in funding for the Exhibition’s marquee development; the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre.

    A mammoth undertaking by any standards, the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre will create nearly 400 jobs during construction and 50 new full-time permanent positions upon completion of the facility in 2023. The impact of the facility will benefit generations to come in Lethbridge as a community hub that will transform the way Lethbridge hosts international events and showcases the rich food sector of Southern Alberta. Along with the new facility that Bev has so fiercely advocated for, will come legacy programming that mentors college students and business incubation that scales up local entrepreneurs. Once operational, the new facility is expected to contribute more than $90 million every year to the regional economy.

    And when she is not busy championing a paradigm shifting project and helping to shape her community’s future, Bev is contributing her time and talents as an active volunteer with the Lethbridge Rotary Club. As a founding member of the joint scholarship initiative between Rotary and the Exhibition, Bev has helped create a program that will support local post-secondary institutions in opening new learning opportunities for the next generation of agricultural leaders. Bev has also volunteered on the boards of Heart of Our City and Downtown Business Revitalization Zone where she served two terms President, and as a member of the University of Lethbridge Senate.

    Bev has amassed a number of significant achievement in the past five years and is helping to lay the ground work for many more success in the future. And as one of only two women to have served as president in the 124 year history of the Lethbridge and District Exhibition, Bev is a worthy role model for women volunteers, executives and entrepreneurs and given her achievements to date, the sky is not the limit – just new territory for this volunteer Star to shine.

    Nominated by: Mevisha Maistry, Lethbridge & District Exhibition

Seniors category

  • Photo of Bill Jackson, Turner Valley

    Bill Jackson, Turner Valley

    The Millarville Racing and Agricultural Society was created to fulfill the mission of building community spirit and few exemplify that mission more than Bill Jackson. In fact, some might say that the Millarville Racing and Agricultural Society was created so Bill Jackson would have another outlet where he is able to expend his seemingly endless supply of volunteer energy.

    Since 1970, Bill has been a volunteer force, driving numerous Society-hosted events and activities. Bill has been a leader in the organization and staging of the Priddis and Millarville Fair, one of the community’s most popular events, since he was 16 years old when he came on board as Beef Cattle Committee director. His ongoing involvement has included hands on work to prepare the fair grounds, organizing classes and introducing new attractions such as educational displays and entertainment.

    His work with the Society has also included support the annual Millarville Christmas Market and serving on numerous committees including the maintenance committee and hall committee. As a member of the Financial Stability Committee, Bill was instrumental in a fundraising initiative to support the Society’s Legacy Mural Project, his own efforts securing more than $50,000 to help honour the Society’s life members and past presidents. Having served in the role of president for four years, Bill can appreciate the contributions of those he has helped to recognize. For the record, only one other individual in the 116 year history of the Society, has served as president longer.

    Bill has been actively volunteering for over six decades, supporting a wide array of community organizations and events in the Millarville area. His involvement as a member in the local 4-H Beef Club at 12 years of age quickly transitioned into a leadership role. For more than 60 years, Bill’s support of various 4-H clubs has touched the lives of countless young people and in 1985, his dedication was honoured with the presentation of the Calgary Regional 4-H Council Plague, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the 4-H movement in his community.

    His commitment to life-long volunteerism is evident in Bill’s long association and support of the Christ Church of Millar. From the age of 14, Bill has meticulously and lovingly cared for the grounds and the church itself and was part of a team of volunteers who came together to implement the church’s beautification program. Bill later coordinated volunteers to complete the extensive landscaping program in time for the church’s 100th anniversary and, for good measure, co-chaired the organizing committee for the three-day anniversary celebration. In his six decades as member of the Church Vestry Committee, Bill has served as both People’s and Rector’s Warden, supervises and supports student staff and manages all aspects of cemetery operations.

    Bill has never shied away from getting involved in projects that have and continue to make a difference in the life of his community and those who reside there. And he has never hesitated to bring friends and family along with him, his example inspiring others to step up and follow his example.

    For all this and more contributed over a lifetime of service, much of it behind the scenes hidden from view, it is time for Bill Jackson to take centre stage as Volunteer Star.

    Nominated by: Anna De Paoli, Millarville Racing & Agricultural Society

  • Photo of Shirley Scott, Kitscoty

    Shirley Scott, Kitscoty

    No one should have to walk the path of grief alone.

    That realization has been a guiding force in Shirley Scott’s life since losing her daughter Audra in a car accident and the catalyst behind the creation of the Walking Through Grief Society.

    With no access to counselling or other supports available, Shirley was left to struggle through her own loss alone. But rather than be overwhelmed by the tragedy, Shirley emerged from the experience with renewed purpose and a determination to see that no one should have to walk through grief alone.

    What began in 1991 as a conversation over coffee with a few others who had shared a similar experience, has today, 30 years later, evolved into a multi-level support system for adults and children dealing with loss and the grief that lingers long after. After completing her own training as one of the first graduates of Lakeland College’s Community Mental Health Certificate program, Shirley has overseen the training of a team of more than 200 compassionate, capable volunteers, ready to answer the call for help in Vermilion, Wainwright and Lloydminster and in surrounding communities.

    Her work has lead to collaborations with local and provincial mental health initiatives, including Vermilion Is Being Empowered, a member of Alberta Health Services’ network of Mental Health Capacity Building sites. Shirley has been a valuable resource, her input helping to support the development of programs to support and create awareness of resources to help the bereaved.

    A founding member of the annual Walk of Remembrance, she continues to volunteer at the event 11 years after its inauguration, bringing the community together to mark World Suicide Day. Shirley also remains directly involved, providing support through one-on-one meetings with those who have shared in the pain of losing a loved one to illness or other tragic circumstance.

    Retirement has only give her more time to pursue her vision and for the last decade, Shirley has contributed more than 1,000 volunteer hours each year, helping to develop and update resources, coordinating volunteer facilitators and fundraising to support the society in its mission.

    For the thousands of Albertans who have found support and strength in their own journey through grief, Shirley’s vision of 30 years ago has been realized. Walking Through Grief is the legacy of child lost and a mother’s unfailing dedication to honour her daughter’s memory and the memories of those who seek out her compassionate care. The light of volunteer Star helping to pierce the darkness of despair.

    Nominated by: Patricia Calyniuk, Vermillion Is Being Empowered Mental Health Capacity Building (VIBE MHCB)

Breaking Barriers – Anti-racism category

  • Photo of Hong (May) Han, Calgary

    Hong (May) Han, Calgary

    With the coming of the COVID-19 pandemic has come an increase in the incidence of cultural and racial discrimination against those in Alberta’s Asian community. One of the leaders in campaign against anti-Asian hate has been May Han.

    May has always been a tireless community volunteer working as a board of director for major community associations, projects of importance such as the City of Calgary Tomorrow’s Chinatown project.  Since the start of the pandemic, May has been working to engage the community in actions in support of anti-racism and anti-Asian sentiments.  Recognizing youth as a force for change, May initiated the Covid9teen Tomorrow Youth Volunteers Team, with 3 chapters in Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa. Youth members participated in a number of events to raise awareness including the Stop Asian Hate Rally, Rally Against RCMP Brutality in Calgary and the kickoff of Asian Heritage Month. The Tomorrow Youth Team is the only Albertan team invited to join Global News National 26-minute Special Edition on Hidden Hate, together with the first Canadian Governor General of Minority. They were also invited by nearly all major media outlets including Global News Calgary, CBC Radio, and Calgary Herald to speak up against Anti-racism. Some of her youth team members also become Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Youth Council and Minister of Education Youth Advising Committee members with the positive impact they’ve made.  Her Panel Discussion Series with Alberta Ministries and Industry Leaders Series was sponsored by the TD Bank Prairie Region  and were attended with audiences from nation-wide.

    The group’s first activity for Alberta Children’s Hospital Kids for Kids Fundraiser   immediately won them Top Fundraising Group of the Year. They also helped teens from across the country offer free tutoring, connect with their peers, learn new skills, contribute to the wider community, and encourage positive mental and physical well-being during the pandemic.

    When COVID-9teen Tomorrow Youth was itself targeted for online hate speech, rather than back away from the reality of discrimination, May began work in organizing the first Canadian Youth Forum on Discrimination and Mental Health. Students in ages ranging from high school to university level from across Canada were invited to join events and workshops and to take part in panel discussions with guest speakers as they explored ways to navigate social situations and solutions around racial discrimination. COVID-9Teen Tomorrow Youth was also invited to take part in ACT2ENDRACISM, a cross-country video campaign to raise awareness and provide communities with the tools to combat racism and anti-Asian discrimination.

    May continues to serve as a voice for Asian Albertans and was among a group of Chinese and Asian Canadian community leaders invited to join the Calgary Police Service’s Diversity Resource Team “Super Board” and Asian Advisory Board, a community outreach effort aimed at supporting greater understanding between communities within Calgary, identifying needs and exploring ways to ensure culturally appropriate service delivery to meet those needs.

    From producing grand-level events such as the Cultural Performance of Calgary Chinatown Street Festival, Calgary Stampede Spirit Talent Show, and 2020 6-City-7-Hour Canada Day Carnival, to serving on numerous municipal boards and committees promoting the culture and giving voice to the concerns of Calgary’s Asian community and to having the beautiful youth volunteer team more engaged with community volunteerism, May Han continues to lead and inspire change for a more diverse, equal and inclusive Alberta.

    Nominated by: Honourable Jason Copping, MLA, Calgary-Varsity

Breaking Barriers – Fighting gender discrimination category

  • Photo of Dr. D. Gaye Watson Warthe, Calgary

    Dr. D. Gaye Watson Warthe, Calgary

    With the compassion of one dedicated to community service and the knowledge and wisdom accumulated through years of study dedicated to combating domestic violence, Dr. D. Gaye Watson Warthe is an often unseen, unknown hero to countless women and children forced to escape a home that has become a very dangerous place to be.

    As Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning in the Faculty of Health, Community and Education at Mount Royal University, Gaye’s research spans dating, domestic and sexual violence and current projects are focusing on the prevention of dating violence on post-secondary campuses.

    This wealth of expertise Gaye brings to her role of President of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, a network of more than 40 emergency and second-stage sheltering organizations providing safety and support for women and children fleeing violence and abuse. Not content with just taking on the challenges and demands of the president’s role, Gaye has also offered up her time and talents as member of the Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee, the Social, Legal and Ethics (SLEC) Committee and the Awards Committee, helping to ensure that ACWS remains an effective and enduring advocate for women and children and the organizations that are there to help in times of crisis.

    And thanks to her foresight and seemingly boundless energy, ACWS member organizations have successfully weathered the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and numerous natural emergencies. Spurred on by the experience of the 2013 Calgary floods, Gaye contributed to the Council’s disaster preparedness initiative, developing recommendations to ensure shelter readiness in the event of a sudden emergency. Those efforts were brought to bear when shelter evacuations were necessitated by forest fires in Slave Lake, Sucker Creek and Fort McMurray), severe hail storms in Taber, and floods in both High River and Fort McMurray.  When COVID-19 forced the relocation of shelter occupants, Gaye’s work helped to limit the impact on the already traumatized shelter occupants.

    The same knowledge and unbounding community spirit that Gaye has brought to ACWS has also helped guide the work of the Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society (2006-2016), RESOLVE Alberta, and the Advisory Committee for SHIFT - The Project to End Domestic Violence. Gaye’s ongoing commitment and the impact of her contributions in support of some of Alberta’s most vulnerable citizens has not gone unnoticed. Gaye has been recognized twice by the Province of Alberta as recipient of the Inspiration Award both individually and as part of the MRU team who developed Stepping Up, a dating violence prevention program.

    Helping to shine a light on the issue of domestic violence and violence against women, to help victims and to find concrete solutions and path to the elimination of such violence, Dr. D Gaye Watson Warthe is an Alberta Volunteer Star.

    Nominated by: Jan Reimer, Alberta Council of Women's Shelters

Breaking Barriers – LGBTQ2S+ inclusion category

  • Photo of Émanuel Dubbledam, Edmonton

    Émanuel Dubbeldam, Edmonton

    Emanuel Dubbeldam’s efforts on behalf of Alberta’s Francophone LGBTQ+ citizens began even before the organization he now represents was created and it was in large part due to his efforts that the Comité FrancoQueer de l'Ouest was established.

    In 2017, Emanuel joined the then “Mon AAH, c’est mon genre!” , a team of people offering workshops on Gay Straight Alliances for francophone youth and operating as part of Francophonie jeunesse de l’Alberta, an Alberta Francophone youth organization. The isolation he felt as a LGTBQ+ youth in Alberta was compounded by the fact that the French language itself, without the vocabulary and terminology needed to convey clearly information on LGBTQ+ matters, made discussing those matters all the more difficult. The small but mighty team set to work creating resources, helping organizations adapt and understand LGBTQ issues and hosting workshops for service providers and schools.

    The group and its potential for positive change expanded along with the need for services grew and the decision was made for AAH to strike out on its own as an independent, incorporated organization. Under the leadership of Emanuel and his fellow volunteers, in January 2019, Comité FrancoQueer de l'Ouest was born with Emanuel among the first board members, serving as Director of Youth Membership and taking a leading role in creating the bylaws and governance structure of the new organization.

    From grant writing and fundraising, to managing the CFQO website, Emanuel is a hands-on steward of the organization. His commitment and enthusiasm is evident in that he not only handled the onboarding and supervision of CFQO’s first employees, but took on the work of positions that had yet to be filled.

    With a goal of supporting LGBTQ+ youth while creating greater awareness and understanding, Emanuel has shared his learnings through presentations to students and educators throughout Canada, providing mentorship and support to other francophone organizations seeking to improve LGBTQ+ inclusion.

    As expressed in Emanuel’s nomination for the Stars of Alberta award:

    “He may not have been the first participant to the Comité, but through his participation and his work the CFQO has gained visibility, credibility and a sustained presence in the francophone community. In doing so, the French-speaking youth are liberated to live their truth.

    “The CFQO, and leaders like Émanuel, provide a chance to rally these people in a space where their francophone Heritage and their LGBTQ+ identity are celebrated.”

    Nominated by: Gabriel Kreiner, Comité FrancoQueer de l'Ouest

Special Recognition

  • Photo of Nicholas Kingfisher, Edmonton

    Nicholas Kingfisher, Edmonton

    What can a person share with others, when each day is a struggle to secure even the most basic elements of survival? Nicholas Kingfisher gives his time, his enthusiasm and perhaps unknowingly, a whole lot of joy to a lot of people.

    Nicholas was introduced to the staff at the Edmonton Oliver Primary Care Network clinic in a chance meeting with one of the clinics nurse practitioners. Life on the streets of Alberta’s capital city has made Nicholas a bit leery around strangers, but it wasn’t long before he stepped up to serve as an informal volunteer, lending a hand when the need arose.

    Whether keeping the grounds around the clinic safe by collecting used needles tossed aside by those dealing with addiction or cleaning up the litter to make the area a more pleasant place to be, Nicholas’ simple acts of kindness have lightened the load and served to inspire those he’s come to know as friends.

    Staff at the clinic have been impressed and appreciative of Nicholas’ work ethic as he grabs a shovel and clears their path to work on a snowy day or washes the clinic windows to allow the spring sun to shine through. But they have been awed by his willingness to step forward to save the life of an unresponsive man behind a locked door - calmly, methodically and with a quiet determination working that lock until the door swung aside allowing staff to successfully treat the incapacitated stranger.

    While Nicholas’ efforts to make life a little better – a little brighter – for the staff and visitors to the clinic are valued, it is perhaps the manner in which he approaches life that has had the greatest impact on those around him. With little in the way of material goods, no visible signs of income and no fixed address, Nicholas continues to demonstrate a spirit of generosity that is often lacking in those with much more to give, willingly sharing what he has with those less fortunate. By working to improve his own health, he has inspired others to pay more attention to their own wellness. And the courage, determination and empathy he shows in the face of hardship serves only to underscore the real value of his contributions to the community.

    For contributing what he has and for sharing who he truly is, we honour Nicholas Kingfisher as recipient of Stars of Alberta Volunteer Special Recognition.

Past recipients

Past Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards Recipients (PDF, 360 KB)

For detailed information on past award recipients, contact the program office.


Connect with the Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards program:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-910-8902
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-427-4155
Email: [email protected]

Was this page helpful?

All fields are required unless otherwise indicated.

Your submissions are monitored by our web team and are used to help improve the experience on