Big hearts revealed in the region’s social profits

A postponed celebration to bring more compassion to the community

By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly

The finalists for the 2016 Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards. Left to right: Paul McWilliams, Chantal Beaver, Suma Jose, Alan Roberts, Aiman Naeem and Fort Chip Animal Rescue. Supplied photos

The finalists for the 2016 Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards. Left to right: Paul McWilliams, Chantal Beaver, Suma Jose, Alan Roberts, Aiman Naeem and Fort Chip Animal Rescue. Supplied photos

Hundreds of residents were expected to gather for the 2016 Heart of Wood Buffalo Leadership Awards on May 18.

“Tonight, we were supposed to have our awards ceremony and celebrate the commitment that so many make to the social profit sector in our region” shared Bonnah Carey, Chief Social Entrepreneur at FuseSocial and member of the Heart Awards Committee, in a press release on the planned event day.

The finalists were supposed to be honoured in front of their family, friends and colleagues with a specially-designed award and a $5,000 sponsorship gift to a Wood Buffalo social profit organization of their choice. The finalists would have then proudly announced their chosen organization at the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts.

Representatives of FuseSocial decided to announce the finalists on social media to highlight the organizations and local philanthropists.

Carey shared with Connect that though there wasn’t the usual celebration, she believes the community leaders will restore residents’ strength and work together to mend the hearts of the Wood Buffalo region.

“As we made the announcement this year using social media, I couldn’t help but reflect how this year the awards truly did reflect “heart”.  Our community’s heart, our winner’s heart and heart of the many generous individuals who reached out to help each of us in various ways,” she said.

“The past month has caused many hearts to break, and as a community it will take time for these hearts to heal.  Many things are uncertain for everyone now. However, there is one thing I know for sure and that is each of the winners will work with all their hearts to make Fort McMurray strong, again.”

The finalists for the six leadership award categories are listed, as follows:

Paul McWilliams for the Board Leadership Award and his exemplary leadership at the social profit board level with the Wood Buffalo Food Bank, Wood Buffalo Health Advisory Committee, Advisory Council on Aging, Multicultural Association, Wood Buffalo Baseball Association and Wood Buffalo Baseball Trust.

Chantal Beaver for the Executive Leadership Award and her exemplary contributions at a social profit senior leader level as the Executive Director of The HUB Family Resource Centre. Beaver is also an active member of the Convergence YMM Advisory Committee, chairs the Fort McMurray Early Years Coalition and is a member of both Provincial Parent Link directors group and Fort McMurray Family Violence and Bullying executive committee.

Suma Jose for the Newcomer Engagement Award and her outstanding leadership, commitment and volunteer work as a recent resident to the community. Jose joined the Wood Buffalo Art Council as a member and has contributed by teaching her artistic talents to youth, as well as volunteering with multiple organizations to promote art and health living in Fort McMurray.

Alan Roberts for the Social Prosperity Award and his significant contributions to the community to help achieve greater sustainability. For almost three decades, Roberts has worked at Keyano Theatre. Throughout the years, he has shared his passion for live theatre and has developed countless achievements to celebrate the arts in the region. He is the director for Fort McMurray interPLAY Society and has remained involved for over twenty years.

Aiman Naeem for the Volunteer Recognition Award and her investment in the community. The grade 12 Westwood Community High School student is the president of her own social profit organization: Artists Against Poverty. She is also a published author, public speaker and a passionate artist.

Fort Chip Animal Rescue Society for the Community Impact Award and its impact made in the broader community. Established in 2014, the Society has helped the Fort Chipewyan community with its over-populated stray and unwanted dogs. With the Society solely run by volunteers, it has helped over 430 dogs find loving homes across Canada.

The awards will be distributed to the individual recipients once residents are able to return to the region.
The leadership award ceremony was first initiated through a partnership project called Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, which was adapted in 2009 by a cross-sector partnership between the Suncor Energy Foundation, the University of Waterloo, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the United Way of Fort McMurray. Since 2011, over ten social profit organizations have come together to steer this event.

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-Connect Weekly-