2020 Award recipients
In December, these outstanding recipients were recognized through an online ceremony.
Amanda Hardman – Stony Plain
Winner of the 2019 4-H Alberta Premier’s Award, Amanda Hardman is a leader by example. Through her dedicated support and long-time involvement in the Stony Riders 4-H Club, contributions to several advisory committees, volunteer support of 4-H, community and school projects and events, and local athletics programs, Amanda is helping inspire young Albertans to community service and inspiring leadership in a younger generation.
In eight years with 4-H, Amanda has volunteered at numerous 4-H and community events and served the club executive as president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary. Amanda is in her first year as Junior Leader and 4-H Alberta Ambassador. As an Ambassador, she runs the 4-H Alberta Ambassadors Twitter account, interacting with members, leaders, sponsors and other 4-H bodies. She also co-ordinates volunteer community service projects, interacts with sponsors and promotes the 4-H program, serving as chair of the 4-H Alberta Website Redesign Task Team. Amanda also provides input to 4-H Alberta at board meetings, speaks at community events, mentors younger members and helps foster positive youth development.
As Parkland 4-H district key member, Amanda is a key contact and conducts training for 4-H members in the district and provides member input to the Parkland District Council. Now a third-year 4-H Canada Youth Service Leader, Amanda participated in the Rimbey Agricultural Centre beautification project and has organized and participated in several community service projects across the country, including a senior’s day in Manitoba, a beach cleaning and sand dune sea grass planting in New Brunswick, and a day creating hygiene kits with Global Medic in Toronto.
A past member of the 4-H Canada Canada-Wide Science Fair team, Amanda has become an advocate and mentor encouraging youth interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), delivering presentations on 4-H programming in science and as a panellist at Calgary’s Science and Technology Awareness Conference. She used a $750 Rising Youth grant to purchase soil testing kits for the Parkland County Libraries for their Youth Makerspace Kits, which helps encourage youth and women in agriculture and STEM. Currently, she is a member of the University of Alberta’s WISEST Youth Council, volunteering in projects and providing input to help shape WISEST programming.
Representing rural youth and bringing attention to issues they face, Amanda has attended many national youth conferences and sits on a number of advisory councils including MLA Searle Turton’s youth advisory council and the RCMP’s National Youth Advisory Council.
Nominated by: Pamela Fald, Stony Plain
Brennan O’Yeung – Calgary
On his first day at the University of Calgary, the Schulich School of Engineering’s new student, Brennan O’Yeung, was struck not only by what he saw… but what he didn’t see. While impressed to see the diversity and a fair representation of both genders in the student population, Brennan noted the lack of Indigenous students in Engineering. In that moment, a vision was born.
'Escape with STEM' is a non-profit organization that delivers STEM-based 'escape room' puzzles and experiences to inspire Indigenous students to explore education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Although Escape with STEM was an unproven concept in its early stages, Michael Crothers from Shell Canada was the first to believe in Brennan and connected him to Christy Morgan and staff of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC). Empowered by their unwavering support, Brennan delivered the first Escape with STEM experience to the Grade 5 and 6 classes at the Piitoayis Family School in 2018. The school teaches Alberta Programs of Study through an Indigenous lens. After receiving enthusiastic reviews from students and teachers, the impact of the unique, fun learning experience was demonstrated as Grade 6 volunteers helped to deliver Escape with STEM to students in Grade 4 and 5 when the school again hosted the program in 2019.
Escape with STEM has since been delivered to Indigenous youth at the TsuuT'ina First Nation’s Chiila Elementary School, through BGCC’s Iiyika’kimaat program, and was featured to 800 Indigenous high school students at Shell Canada’s 2019 Indspire Soaring Indigenous Youth Empowerment Conference.
When the COVID-19 pandemic brought in-class delivery of the program to a halt, Brennan quickly pivoted to online learning by creating interactive and engaging online escape rooms for students to enjoy and explore. Brennan also supports organizations such as IndigeSTEAM, which supports Indigenous youth in STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), and Cybermentor, which inspires girls in science and engineering by developing online escape rooms to support their efforts.
To date, more than 1,000 Indigenous youth have been exposed to science and technology through Escape with STEM with thousands more from the CBE online hub learning about STEM through virtual offerings. The United Way of Calgary and the Calgary Flames Foundation have been instrumental in spreading the word about Escape with STEM online. As well, Shell Canada and TC Energy, Brennan’s current internship company, have provided ongoing financial support to help deliver programs to students.
In the past year, Brennan’s volunteer story included over 500 hours of service to the Escape with STEM program, AC Robotics (which encourages youth skills development in STEM through experimental learning and hands-on projects), the Calgary United Way Cabinet, American Society of Mechanical Engineers – Southern Alberta Student Branch, and Gen Next which brings together young professionals to enable social change in the community. He has also supported fellow students through the U of C Emerging Leaders Program.
Nominated by: Christy Morgan, Boys and Girls Club of Calgary
Joyce McCoy – Didsbury
Joyce McCoy is passionate about her community and believes that volunteer community service plays an important role in making a great community even better.
Within months of moving to Didsbury in the mid 80s, Joyce joined Kinsmen/Kinettes, helping to raise funds for playgrounds, a new pool and waterslide, a curling rink, park, and seniors’ affordable housing. It was the beginning of three decades of volunteer community service. Contributing more than 1,000 volunteer hours over the past year to local organizations supporting health, education, recreation and sport, Joyce’s impact is felt throughout the community.
Those contributions are making a difference in the lives of youth in the community and beyond and include support of the local 4-H program and school field trips. Joyce has been a dedicated supporter of Didsbury’s young figure skaters as a volunteer with the Skate Canada program, serving on the provincial Skate Canada board, as Central Alberta Region committee chair, registration chair for the Skate Canada Challenge, data specialist and official.
The Mountain View Colts, a Junior B hockey team Joyce supports as COVID-19 Communications Manager and Social Media Manager, are among a number of groups that have benefited from her social media skills. Other community projects that have enjoyed an enhanced online presence include Shop Local Didsbury (promoting local businesses), A Better Didsbury (sharing local news, features and event information), and Caremongering-Didsbury Community response to COVID-19
Joyce is passionate about seniors and supporting healthy aging in place and demonstrates that passion with action, volunteering as a member of the Mountain View Seniors Housing Foundation. She is also helping to keep seniors active and engaged through her support of Mountain View Tours, using her social media skills to promote senior’s bus trips that run out of Didsbury. Joyce also organizes the destination, bus, timing and tickets and acts as tour guide.
An advocate for the value of volunteering, Joyce promotes positivity, community and teamwork and encourages others, including her family, to step forward and volunteer. By example, she is inspiring volunteers to engage in projects they will be passionate about. Joyce initiated the first Remembrance Day Poppy-A-Thon at the Didsbury Museum in 2019, attracting over a dozen ladies to knit and crochet poppies. What started as a small personal project has become ingrained in the community and is now an annual even with dozens of “Poppy Peeps” from as far away as Calgary.
The monthly Poppy-A-Thon gatherings are now organized by the museum, allowing Joyce to find the next great community project to help get others engaged in volunteerism.
Nominated by: Kevin R. Bentley
Jayanta (Jay) Chowdhury – Calgary
Jay Chowdhury’s volunteer contributions are as diverse as the community he serves. Contributing more than 500 hours each year to various organizations and initiatives, Jay’s efforts have touched the lives of Calgary’s youth, newcomers and seniors.
As chair of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, 538 Buffalo Squadron, Jay is working to help young Calgarians to become strong citizens within their community and to develop career skills with an eye to future opportunities. Recognizing the unique challenges facing young people arriving from war-torn countries, Jay volunteered to work with youth in the Forest Lawn community. From offering rides and aiding newcomers in their job search to assisting in research projects at the Calgary Immigrant Support Centre, Jay has become a leader in the local South Asian community.
Having survived a serious bout of Covid-19 which left him in a coma for 25 days, Jay recovered and became a vocal advocate of preventative COVID-19 protocols, initiating the “Wear a Mask and Complete Your Task” campaign to create awareness.
With a passion for people, Jay continues to volunteer his time and talents in support of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, Calgary Stampede and a member of the South Asian Advisory Board of the Calgary Police Service.
Nominated by: Sam Arshi, uTurn Project Inc.
Frieda Maynard – Edson
From Residential School survivor to an Edson community icon, Frieda Maynard has encountered much and has given back even more to the town that she says aided her in her healing journey.
As an elder of the Indigenous community, Frieda is a familiar face in Edson’s kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms, engaging youthful students in Indigenous activities and sharing the tragic story of Canada’s Residential Schools with senior classes. Frieda also conducts blanket exercises, an interactive educational program that teaches the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, for organizations in Edson.
Motivated by a fierce loyalty to the community, Frieda has contributed over 900 volunteer hours, supporting a range of local nonprofit organizations and initiatives including the Edson Friendship Centre, the Edson and District Recycling Society and the Edson Music Festival. Her love of music has opened up yet another volunteering opportunity and she is welcome performer at the Edson Senior Pioneer Cabin and the extended care facility of the Edson Hospital.
In any outing Frieda makes, whether it be to a restaurant, a trip to the grocery store, a stop at the local bank or during one of her many visits to a local school, she can be seen talking about the many opportunities available in the community. She is a vital connector, linking people to the programs and resources they are looking for and, in doing so, encouraging her fellow citizens to get involved.
With her amazing spirit, resiliency and captivating calm, Frieda is an inspiration to anyone who has been touched by her genuine smile and loving demeanour.
Nominated by: Martin Long, MLA West Yellowhead
Kathleen (Kathy) King – Edmonton
Turning tragedy into compassion, Kathleen King is a committed, caring social advocate working tirelessly to create awareness and spur action on missing and murder women and the elimination of sexual exploitation.
A clinical social worker (BSW, MSW) and co-author of a text book on Child Sexual Abuse in 1987, her support of the vulnerable and exploited became more personal after her daughter, who had begun to experiment with drugs and eventually disappeared from the streets of Edmonton in 1997 was discovered, a victim of violent crime. Becoming one of the families who have lost loved ones through murder, in 1998, Kathy became an active volunteer with "the Victims of Homicide Support Society as well as" CEASE, the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation.
Through her work with CEASE and as an independent social advocate, Kathleen has initiated or lent her support to numerous projects that focus on raising awareness and educating the public on the challenges facing vulnerable young people who may be prone to addiction or exploitation and to inspire a more accepting and collaborative attitude toward meeting their needs.
Kathleen launched 'Missing Cara.ca', a website named for her daughter, as a source of inspiration and information. The site shares Kathleen’s own story while documenting and memorializing the other victims of exploitation and violence. Kathleen has lent her support to Project Change, a photographic exhibition to create awareness about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and collaborated with Edmonton photographer Mufty Mathewson on the Red Dress Photography Project to honour missing and murdered women. She is an ongoing participant in annual awareness events including the CEASE August 14 Memorial, the February 14 Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women of Edmonton, and served as fundraiser and committee member for the CEASE Men of Honour Annual Awards.
Kathleen’s efforts are also directed at changing the behaviours that contribute to sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, having served as educator with both CEASE and the Edmonton Sex Trade Offender Program (STOP). She has also contributed as a volunteer supervisor and field instructor for Masters level students at the Walk-In Clinic of Edmonton (later known as Momentum) and was involved in the development and delivery of a trauma recovery group.
By documenting, educating, advocating, and sharing her own story, Kathleen is inspiring others to get involved and take action while supporting those who share the common sorrow of loss and enduring hope for change.
Nominated by: Kathleen Quinn, Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE)
Breaking Barriers – anti-racism category
Salima Versi – Edmonton
Edmonton’s Salima Versi has a commitment to building welcoming, inclusive, and diverse communities.
As founder of the Muslim Feminist Collective of Edmonton, Salima is bringing Muslim women together to address issues facing Muslim and other marginalized communities. Salima stepped up as producer, director, and actor in the organization’s benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Salima also works to give voice to the organization through updates and information via social media.
Within Edmonton’s Ismaili Muslim community, Salimia is an Alwaeeza, a scholar, preacher, and spiritual caregiver, writing and delivering regular sermons, providing spiritual care as needed to community members, running classes and workshops, and conducting and presenting research on topics impacting the community.
With the race-related death of George Floyd in the United States and subsequent anti-racism protests, Salima took action within her own community. She took it upon herself to design and develop a curriculum to teach her community about racism and empower people to become actively anti-racist, facilitating and hosting the delivery of the 10-week anti-racism curriculum and group discussion. The program designed for the Ismaili community, also introduced the experiences of Indigenous people in Canada and black history within North America. There have been 20 active participants in this initiative and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with a waiting list for a second run of the sessions.
While serving on the board of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Action and Education, Salima organized and attended various events, national and international conferences and promoted interfaith work. In 2018, she hosted a full-day youth workshop on pilgrimage and spiritual journeys and helped to organize a 3-day conference on the same topic for 200 people from across North America.
Her support of youth was also evident in her contributions as career counsellor with the Aga Khan Education Board for Edmonton and the Ismaili Council for Edmonton. In this role, Salima conducted career assessments and career planning interviews with high school and university students, as well as their parents when necessary. Her involvement with multi-faith families with the Ismaili Council has provided a space for non-Ismaili spouses/partners to become actively involved and included with the community, promote shared understanding, and increased cohesion within families.
Salima’s approach in working for inclusive communities is evident in her how she works with others to realize shared goals; bringing many voices to the table and empowering others to share their own passions and create their own initiatives and supporting through either cheering from the sidelines or by actively participating.
Nominated by: Sabia Remtulla-Wilson, Calgary
Breaking Barriers – fighting gender discrimination category
Anjum Mullick – Edmonton
Anjum has dedicated much of her volunteer efforts to the advancement of women in engineering and the sciences. From a corporate and industry leader of employee resource groups dedicated to women in the organization, to working with a pre-eminent national organization for the advancement of women in engineering, science, and the trades, to reducing barriers for women and girls to pursue a career in engineering and geoscience as chair of the Women in APEGA (Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta) advisory group—Anjum’s work is opening doors for countless numbers of women and girls to follow her lead into successful careers in these fields.
As co-chair of the fall 2018 Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) Conference, her efforts helped to ensure impactful professional development activities for women at all stages of their career, diverse programming to purposefully and meaningfully include Indigenous youth, and an increase in male participation and attendance at the conference. Anjum and the other members of the CCWESTT organizing committee were recognized for their efforts and achievements when they received the Women in Engineering and Geoscience Champion APEGA Summit Award in 2019.
One of the biggest barriers to the participation of women in engineering and geoscience is the lack of female role models, female mentors, and even greater lack of women in leadership and senior roles in the professions. As Director of Engineering Services for the City of Edmonton, Anjum is a trailblazer through her own career achievements - a female leader in engineering and inspiring role model for women and girls with aspirations of a career in engineering and geoscience.
Her efforts to ensure gender diversity within the workplace are making a difference throughout the industry and beyond. As a result of her volunteer work, Anjum is often asked to be a guest speaker or conference panel member to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion in engineering, or women in leadership, again, as a volunteer. Her contributions to her department’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee has led to Anjum’s involvement as a member of the City of Edmonton’s Corporate GBA+ Advisory Committee, providing expertise and guidance on developing and implementing GBA+ across the organization.
Anjum’s work on behalf of women in traditionally male-dominated professions and to inspire women and girls to overcome their own barriers and follow a path into a non traditional career in engineering or the sciences, is a demonstration of what one person with drive and passion can do.
Nominated by: Mohamed El Daly, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, Edmonton
Breaking Barriers – LGBTQ2S+ inclusion category
Kelly Ernst – Calgary
Dr. Kelly Ernst’s scope of lifelong volunteer activities is vast, ranging from organizing fundraising campaigns, assessing community needs, three decades of LGBTQ2S+ activism and education, engaging and organizing the local community to support LGBTQ2S+ refugees, monitoring of refugees’ integration, participating in group activities, providing individual support, and being a mentor to many.
Kelly’s most recent volunteerism is being co-founder and President of the End of the Rainbow Foundation based in Calgary. The foundation’s mission is to improve socio-economic conditions for LGBTQ2S+ people with a particular focus on LGBTQ2S+ refugees. Thanks to Kelly’s innovative leadership, his ability to bring people on-side, and his talent to recognize the most needed supports, Kelly has established a prominent LGBTQ2S+ refugee serving organization in Canada. As a part of his presidency of the End of the Rainbow Foundation, Kelly is a member of the Canadian Rainbow Coalition for Refuge which educates and advocates for the development of sponsor groups for bringing LGBTQ2S+ refugees to Canada.
Highlights of his past volunteerism include being a founding board member of the Rocky Mountain Civil Liberties Association and its president for six years. Kelly was co founder and an original endowment advisor at the Calgary Foundation’s Chinook Lesbian and Gay Endowment Fund. He was a co-founder of the Basic Income Canada Network. Kelly is a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Association. He was a Vice-President of both the Fairytales Presentation Society and Calgary OutGames Legacy.
For his dedicated volunteer work as Chairperson of the Alberta Hearings on Legislation regarding Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta Schools, Kelly received the 2015 Alberta Civil Liberties Human Rights Award.
Kelly’s understanding challenges faced by newcomers to Canada comes from the personal and professional experiences he had when he spent considerable time in Costa Rica where he ran a business. Not knowing the culture and language are barriers he can relate to and these experiences have helped motivate Kelly’s commitment to volunteerism, especially regarding newcomers to Canada.
In 2016, Kelly was contracted to rebuild Calgary Outlink, one of the oldest LGBTQ2S+ organization in Calgary where he met many LGBTQ2S+ refugee claimants from countries that criminalized homosexuality, He learned that there was no significant support in Calgary for these vulnerable newcomers. To meet this need, Kelly founded the MAIA LGBTQ+ New Canadians Resiliency Project (for refugees and immigrants). He also began to act as a witness during Immigration and Refugee Board hearings which he continues to do to this day.
This work eventually led Kelly to start a successful collaboration with the Centre for Newcomers. Kelly eventually accepted a position on the executive team at the Centre for Newcomers. Today, he leads a team of LGBTQ2S+ refugees who continue to collaborate and grow the LGBTQ+ Newcomers program and the broadly based Vulnerable Populations program. He continues to volunteer beyond this role to ensure vulnerable people get the services they need, even when he cannot provide it in his professional role.
Nominated by: Boban Stojanovic, Calgary
Past Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards Recipients (PDF, 220 KB)
For detailed information on past award recipients, contact the program office.