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Replay: Mayor and Council's Toast of Champions, Jan. 26 from MacDonald Island

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2015 Mayor and Council's Toast of Champions

The 2015 Champions

Bill Bertschy

Candace Sturgess

Dutche Iannetti

Kelli Stewart

Malja Najmi-Beauchamp

Sana Elache

Regina B. Oppon

Tania Dashcavich

List of all 2015 Nominees

Celebration Photo Gallery

[Click image to launch gallery]

The following 23 exceptional people were nominated to be Champions in 2015. On Jan. 28, 2016, eight nominees received special recognition at the Citizen Recognition Program: Mayor and Council’s Toast of Champions celebration held at a private event at Shell Place.

Alichia (Stardust) Googoo

Alichia Googoo

  • Volunteer instructor for a free YMCA dance program for youth
  • Started with a spring program and classes continued in the fall
  • Taught different dance techniques and about self-confidence, discipline, respect, a healthy self-image and how to have fun
  • Empowered the children, making each one feel like a superstar
  • Ensured that the class was open to all residents

Bill Bertschy

Bill Bertschy

  • Worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters Full Circle Mentor program
  • Created the Maskwa Legacy Project for the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games
  • Set up the first urban sweat lodge since 2000
  • Built the first living medicine wheel in Fort McMurray
  • Helped develop the TOTAL Aboriginal Interpretive Walking Trail

Candace Sturgess

Candace Sturgess

  • Anzac resident and business owner
  • Volunteers with the school programs, Anzac Lil Lakers, scouts and as a boys volleyball coach
  • Involved with the Roots of Empathy program
  • Leads a ladies volleyball recreation league team
  • Mentors and guides local youth with work experience opportunities

Darrel Peters

Darrel Peters

  • Chief pilot at Phoenix Heli-Flight, former real estate agent and local business owner.
  • Developed and heads the Local HERO (Helicopter Emergency Response Organization)
  • Flies in water buckets to battle forest fires in the area
  • Regional ambassador and advocate
  • Unwavering commitment to Fort McMurray’s growth and sustainability

David Hutchinson

David Hutchinson

  • Active community volunteer since junior high school
  • Involved with bottle drives and other community events
  • Volunteer chair of transportation for the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games
  • Northern Kickoff volunteer committee member
  • Helps out with enthusiasm, energy and a smile

Douglas Brown

Douglas Brown

  • Member of the Enjoying Fort McMurray Group
  • Volunteers for Community Cleanup, the SPCA, and other events and programs
  • Purchased 20 bikes at a charity auction and then repaired and donated them back to other charities
  • Collects bottles and cans for recycling and donates the money to charities
  • Always goes above and beyond

Dutche Iannetti

Dutche Iannetti

  • Volunteer director of operations, Fort McMurray Minor Baseball Association
  • Role model in the community and local baseball
  • Always there to help out the club and the kids
  • Plays a strategic part in the maintenance of two local ball parks
  • Gives his time and money to make his community a better place to live

Eric Tevely

Eric Trevely

  • Gregoire Lake Estates resident
  • Owner, president and chief operating officer of Inner City Diesel Ltd, which sponsors hockey teams and extra ice time
  • Coaches Ju-jitsu and the Fort McMurray Minor Hockey League
  • Implemented cost-saving and team-building initiatives
  • Makes kids feel welcome, included and supported

Filipino-Canadian Association of Fort McMurray

FCAM Members

  • Preserves and promotes Filipino heritage and culture
  • Supports immigrants and helps them make the cultural transition
  • Volunteers for and participates in other community events
  • Shares the Filipino culture via its dance performances and food sales
  • Supports the Philippine Embassy passport renewal outreach program

Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association

YMMFMA Memebrs

  • Builds the capacity of emerging and professional filmmakers
  • Offers learning opportunities and screening events
  • Introduced and coordinated the Fort McMurray International Film Festival for five years
  • Encourages collaborative leadership via partnerships with industry and non-profits
  • Promotes local arts beyond Wood Buffalo

Joanna Torguson

Joanna Torguson

  • Teacher and artist
  • Founder and president of the Fort Mac Hand Crafted Market
  • Coaches and mentors local artists and crafters
  • Established a community of artists who share and grow together
  • Gives 110 percent and encourages others to do the same

Kelli Stewart

Kelli Stewart

  • Instructor at the MacDonald Island Dance Academy
  • Also teaches the students about anti-bullying, social diversity and acceptance
  • Role model and mentor who helps kids open up and feel comfortable
  • Always looking for ways to improve the community - SPCA fundraisers, performances at events, Sock Hop for the Centre of Hope, etc.
  • Believes that community comes first

Kelsey Granick

Kelsey Granick

  • Fort Chipewyan student with several academic and sports awards
  • 2015 Western Canada Summer Games torchbearer
  • Participated in the 2014 FC Edmonton Youth Soccer Clinic and was invited to join the Fort McMurray Fury team for the Alberta Provincial Soccer Championships
  • Lake Athabasca Youth Council worker
  • Volunteered for Eagles Nest Bible Camp, Spring Cleanup, Canada Day and Heritage Day festivities

Malja Najmi-Beauchamp

Malja Najmi-Beauchamp

  • Grade 12 student who has won numerous awards
  • Accomplished artist
  • Volunteers for many organizations and events (e.g., Boys and Girls Club, Santa’s Anonymous, Canadian Cancer Society, United Way and Communities in Bloom)
  • Completed the YMCA Leadership Program
  • Facilitated a program to encourage girls to share thoughts, ideas and expectations

Mallaz Najmi-Beauchamp

Mallaz Najmi-Beauchamp

  • Keyano College pre-medical and electrician student, peer tutor, and Student Association and Student Mental Health Committee member
  • MACOY alumni; selected to participate in the Minister’s Student Advisory Council
  • 2014 Great Kids Award of Alberta recipient
  • Has led many fundraising and community projects
  • Great advocate and role model, always assisting others

Mario S. Borbon

Mario S. Borbon

  • Organized the Fort McMurray Smash Bros Community, a video game group that helps youth and young adults meet new friends
  • Creates a sense of belonging for members, helping those with social anxiety
  • Personally covers all the costs for events and gatherings
  • Role model in the community
  • Dedicated, determined and willing to try new things

Michelle Thorne

Michelle Thorne

  • Program Manager, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and former Learning through the Arts artist educator
  • Award-winning theatre artist open to collaboration and partnerships
  • Mentor, Keyano Theatre Drama Force camp and Westwood High School
  • Volunteers for Keyano Theatre
  • Co-founder of Theatre Just Because

Regina B. Oppon

Regina B. Oppon

  • Pastor, Gethsemane International Assembly
  • Former board member, Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo; executive director, Rehoboth Alliance
  • Involved with the Fort McMurray African Association and the Immigrant Women’s Academy
  • Organized International Day celebrations and helped establish local Black History Month events
  • Works with women and youth to empower them to recognize their potential and talents

Samra Ilyas

Samra Ilyas

  • Supervisor and acting manager, Alberta Works
  • Islamic School Council chair and one of the founders of Collaboration for Religious Inclusion
  • Landlord and Tenant Advisory Board secretary
  • Volunteers for Adopt-a-Roadway, Wood Buffalo Food Bank, Northern Lights Sisters Association and various community events
  • Builds a culture of inclusion and respect

Sana Elache

Sana Elache

  • Senior Leadership Development Advisor, Syncrude Canada Ltd.
  • President, Multicultural Association of Wood Buffalo
  • Involved with Leadership Wood Buffalo in several roles
  • Member of several committees (e.g., 2015 Western Canada Summer Games Bid Committee)
  • Volunteers for Fort McMurray’s Community Citizenship ceremonies

Sarah Neiman

Sarah Neiman

  • Artist educator and trainer, Learning Through the Arts
  • Program designer and lead vocal instructor, Triple Threat Program, UpTown! Music & Dance
  • Treasurer and music representative, Arts Council Wood Buffalo
  • President, Fort McMurray Music Teachers’ Association
  • Performs at events in the region (e.g., La Dolce Vita fundraiser)

Seville Kwan

Seville Kwan

  • Beautification coordinator with the Municipality
  • Secretary and past president of the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club
  • Co-organizer of YMM Young Urban Professionals
  • Volunteers for the Wood Buffalo Food Bank and Fort McMurray Air Show
  • Connects community members to turn ideas into action

Tania Dashcavich

Tania Dashcavich

  • Founder and chair of the Lake Athabasca Youth Council and Experiential Learning Initiative
  • Athabasca Delta Community School teacher, board member and volunteer in Fort Chipewyan
  • Mentors young and new school staff Supported the school and community after two teen suicides this year
  • A bridge between communities in the region

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