Community Services


Nominees in the category of Community Services

Centennial College

Laura Arndt

Mother, Daughter, Wife and Secretariat Lead, Survivors' Secretariat
Developmental Services Worker, 1984

The child of a residential school survivor, Laura Arndt is a proud Haudenosaunee woman who has devoted her life and career to advancing healing for Indigenous people and communities in Canada. In 2021, Arndt was named secretariat lead of the Survivors’ Secretariat, an organization overseeing a survivor-led search for unmarked graves of children who died while attending the Mohawk Institute, the first and longest-running school in Canada. Prior to joining the Survivors’ Secretariat, Arndt held senior roles focused on Indigenous rights and well-being at the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth and at Centennial College.

Georgian College

Donna Big Canoe

Chief, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation

Native Education - Community and Social Development, 1998

General Arts and Science, 1995

Donna Big Canoe was elected Georgina Island First Nation chief in 2007 at the age of 31 and has been re-elected every term since. Under her leadership the community enjoys improved drinking water, health services and employment opportunities. The community successfully fought a proposal to dump treated sewage into Lake Simcoe's watershed and she collaborated with First Nations chiefs and governments to settle two historic treaty disputes. She's been honoured with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Board of Governor's Distinguished Alumni Award at her alma mater. A collaborative, consultative leader, Big Canoe stresses any achievements are shared with her council, staff and entire community.

Niagara College

Mark Carl

Chief Executive Officer, Habitat for Humanity Niagara

Business Administration - Marketing (Diploma), 1997

International Trade (Post-Graduate Certificate), 1997

As CEO of Habitat for Humanity Niagara, Mark Carl is his community's foremost fundraiser for low-income, working families enwrapped within Ontario’s unprecedented housing crisis. Mobilized by his learning disability to start volunteering, he witnessed firsthand how lived traumatic experiences trap individuals into homelessness, mental health struggles and opioid addiction. His advocacy energized a run for city council, where he influenced affordable and social housing legislation, engaged local organizations and compelled all levels of government into action. His current goal is to build 30 affordable family homes over the next five years by fundraising $10 million, with $4 million already secured.

Fanshawe College

Mamta Chail

President and CEO, Youthdale Treatment Services
Law and Security Administration, 1997

Mamta Chail is a results-driven mental health advocate with a focus on children and youth, where she believes resources and services have the greatest impact and return on investment. A recognized expert in her field and current CEO/president of Youthdale Treatment Service, Chail sits on the board of directors for Children's Mental Health Ontario and the mental health and addictions subcommittee of the London Police Services Board. Throughout her career, Chail has influenced policy and system-level standards to support better mental health outcomes, advocated for funding and resources and worked to ensure equitable access and supports for all families.

Durham College

Christine Cunningham

Founder and Executive Director, Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario (Self-Employed)
Social Service Worker, 2015

After experiencing the effects of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD) during her third pregnancy, Christine Cunningham was determined to help other women who have experienced the same struggle. Since returning to school and switching careers, she has become a leader in the field of perinatal mental health, running a successful counselling private practice. She is also the founder and executive director of Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario, a not-for-profit organization that provides free to low-cost mental health supports to those living with a PMAD. Her knowledge, experience and dedication has made a difference in the lives of countless women.

Sheridan College

Travonne Edwards

Assistant Professor, School of Child and Youth Care, Toronto Metropolitan University
Child and Youth Care Worker, 2014

Travonne Edwards is an assistant professor at Toronto Metropolitan University and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, researching the overrepresentation of Black families in Ontario’s child welfare systems. He is a transformational leader who rose from his experiences of anti-Black racism to become a leading academic, intent on improving the lives of Black children, youth and families navigating the child welfare system. His work has been recognized with many prestigious awards and fellowships. His research projects, peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and fact sheets support front-line practitioners, agencies and policy makers in their decisions to support Black families.

Mohawk College

Clare Freeman

Executive Director, Hamilton Community Legal Clinic
Child and Youth Worker, 1995

Clare Freeman is an accomplished and respected non-profit leader, speaker, instructor and trauma clinician. She has led key organizations in Hamilton, including serving as executive director of Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice and Interval House of Hamilton, a domestic violence shelter. She now serves as executive director at the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic. She is a passionate advocate in her community and beyond for social justice, rights-based inclusion, sex-gender-based equity, violence against women, male engagement in anti-violence, children’s mental health, child welfare and palliative care. She has served on several provincial advisory committees and presented at national and international conferences.

Fleming College

Heather George

Executive Director, Woodland Cultural Centre
Museum Management and Curatorship, 2008

Heather George is a prominent leader in the Canadian museum sector. As executive director of the Woodland Cultural Centre, she has been a strong advocate for promoting Indigenous perspectives and creating opportunities for Indigenous artists and curators. She was elected as president of the Canadian Museums Association in 2021, where she has led a national review of museum policies and their relationship with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples. George's leadership in advancing reconciliation and promoting Indigenous perspectives has been widely recognized in the Canadian museum sector.

St. Lawrence College

Natalia Hanson

Executive Director, Humane Outreach for Latin Animals (HOLA)
Veterinary Assistant, 2010
When it comes to leadership in animal activism, Natalia Hanson knows no bounds. A proud global citizen, her groundbreaking achievements in campaigning for animal welfare have spanned the globe. Having volunteered in countries in Africa and Latin America, Hanson has shared her passion and expertise with various organizations to help promote their causes. Currently splitting her time between Canada and her Colombian homeland, she is the co-founder of HOLA, a charity that backs accessible and low-cost neutering. She’s also a skilled marketing and communications professional and continues to inspire animal advocacy via social media and other online forums.

Algonquin College

Adam Joiner

Chief Executive Officer, BGC Ottawa (formerly the Boys and Girls Club Ottawa)
Social Service Worker, 2003
Adam Joiner is an experienced chief executive officer with a demonstrated history of working in the field of children and youth and overall business management. Over his 25 years of working for BGC Ottawa, Joiner has held various positions from youth worker to camp counsellor to youth outreach worker, before becoming manager of the Don McGahan Clubhouse in the Vanier community of Ottawa. He next rose to senior manager, followed by director of program and is now the CEO. He is skilled in non-profit organizations, program planning, event planning, strategic planning, public speaking and media relations.

Seneca Polytechnic

Armand La Barge

Professional Consultant, La Barge Consulting Services

Investigative Sciences and Police Studies, Advanced, 1986

Advanced Applied Management Techniques, 1985

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, 1985

As chief of York Regional Police 2002-2010, Armand La Barge was a trailblazer, setting the standard for police leadership as a champion of diversity and inclusiveness. His progressive outlook over his 37-year career earned him respect in York Region's multicultural societies as well as in the policing community. He was elected president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and won numerous awards for his service to diverse communities. In 2022, he was appointed to the Order of Ontario in recognition of his lifelong commitment to diversity, inclusion, social justice, human rights and community activism.

Humber College

Deepa Mattoo

Executive Director, Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Fundraising and Volunteer Management, 2007

Deepa Mattoo is an award-winning feminist lawyer whose work is rooted in equity and anti-oppression. She joined the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic as a legal services director, later becoming the executive director. In her current position, she has overseen legal, counselling, interpretation and intervention services to racialized and marginalized populations of women and survivors of gender-based violence. A YWCA Women of Distinction Award winner, Mattoo has appeared before parliamentary committees and United Nations civil society meetings, while her expertise and law reform work have brought her to the Supreme Court of Canada to speak on a wide range of human rights and social justice issues.

George Brown College

Kayla Moryoussef

Death and Grief Worker, Good Death Doula Private Practice
Community Worker Program, 2018
Kayla Moryoussef has made significant contributions in the area of death and grief counselling. Through her company, Good Death Doula, as well as her work with the Home Hospice Association and Death Cafe, she has positively impacted her community and brought a pragmatic and compassionate perspective to care for persons at the end of their lives.

Northern College

Kristin Murray

Executive Director, Kunuwanimano Child & Family Services

Social Service Worker, 2003

Drug and Alcohol Counsellor, 2003

Kristin Murray is a helper, speaker and advocate who is passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion. Experienced in community development both personally, professionally and in her current role as a councillor with the City of Timmins, Murray was the first person of colour to become the mayor of the City of Timmins. As a Black and Indigenous woman, Murray’s intersectional identities help her empathize with diverse communities and bring compassion and kindness to her work. She is the descendant of a signatory to Treaty 9, who speaks passionately about integrating every individual’s personal responsibility into action toward reconciliation and decolonization.

Lambton College

Nicole Paquette

Real Estate Agent, Remax Sarnia Realty Inc., Brokerage
Practical Nursing, 2009

Nicole Paquette is a passionate advocate for the health and well-being of marginalized children. As the co-founder of Noelle's Gift, she has helped to raise over $3.3 million since 2013, positively impacting the lives of over 15,000 children. The volunteer-run charitable organization has received local and provincial recognition for providing nutrition, clothing and educational equipment to thousands of marginalized children in the community.

Conestoga College

Jehan Salim

Shelter Cluster Coordinator, Afghanistan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Bachelor of Applied Technology - Architecture, Project & Facility Management, 2013

Jehan Salim has put her college degree to work on the international stage, using her project and facilities management expertise to lead post-conflict rebuilding efforts and operate the largest refugee camp in the world. She oversaw the reconstruction of Mosul University and 12,000 homes in Iraq, built a 400-bed COVID isolation clinic at Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp, secured the safety of 100 staff and key border assets during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and led the rehabilitation of 250 homes in Syria. From Iraq to Afghanistan, Salim has made it a priority to give marginalized women income, experience and a voice.

Loyalist College

Mike Shoreman

Althete, Speaker, Author, Advocate, Self-Employed

Public Relations, 2007

Advertising, 2006

When Ramsay Hunt Syndrome – a rare neurological condition – left Mike Shoreman paralyzed and suffering from vertigo, hearing and vision loss, he descended into a mental health crisis. Fighting his way back from that place of despair fundamentally changed his life’s trajectory. As he undertook a healing journey, both mental and physical, Shoreman found his calling – to use his skills as a paddleboarder and his experience in public relations to be an advocate for accessibility justice and mental health supports. By sharing his story of resilience in the face of adversity, Shoreman inspires others to strive for excellence and achieve their potential.

St. Clair College

Cheryl Sprague

Executive Director and Founder, Delta Chi Early Childhood Centres
Early Childhood Education, 1978

Cheryl Sprague is the founder and executive director of Delta Chi Early Childhood Centres. Founded in 1986, what started as one location in downtown Windsor has expanded to 13 locations with child-care spaces for more than 1,000 children and 137 employees. Sprague has given back to her community as president of the Children's Aid Foundation board for nearly a decade. She invests in training the next generation of educators and has hosted more than 2,000 St. Clair College students for placements at Delta Chi. Throughout her career, she has found her passion in providing high-quality child care for families in Windsor.

Canadore College

Joe Warmington

News Columnist, Postmedia News
Journalism - Print, 1986

Joe Warmington is an award-winning reporter and columnist with the Toronto Sun and was known for years for his street column, The Night Scrawler. A 37-year industry veteran, he has covered local, national and international news and events over the course of his successful career. An advocate for democracy and justice, Warmington applies balanced principles to inform readers and encourage respectful discourse that inspires action toward making meaningful change. He challenges the status quo by asking hard questions and showcasing different perspectives. A talented researcher and writer, he continues to positively impact lives through the people he meets and the stories he tells.