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2016 Mayor and Council's Toast of Champions

The following 13 people or groups were nominated to be Champions in 2016. Tune in online on January 26, 2017 at 8:30 p.m. and watch the Citizen Recognition Program: Mayor and Council's Toast of Champions celebration!

Krista Balsom
Frances Bates
Julianne North Bourque
Vanessa Chauhan
Erin Dolansky
John Evans
Fort McMurray SPCA
Matthew James Lewis
Amanda Mercer
NorthStar Auto Group
Yvonne Ormson
C.J. Quinton
YMCA Newalta Childcare Centre

Krista Balsom

Krista Balsom

  • Passionate advocate for Wood Buffalo
  • President of Balsom Communications and publisher and editor-in-chief of Your McMurray Magazine
  • Engaged volunteer, philanthropist and board member who truly makes an impact
  • Has been recognized by Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta as a Woman of Inspiration, a philanthropist by the Northern Lights Health Foundation, and the 2013 Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year for Balsom Communications
  • Dedicated to supporting and contributing to many social profit agencies in the region

Frances Bates

Frances Bates

  • A true community leader as the health Director of Fort McMurray no. 468 First Nation
  • Instrumental in the opening of a brand new Aboriginal Head Start Program for children & family support services
  • Working regionally, she has formed partnerships and organized a training session that gave people in our region the ability to work with youth who have suffered trauma
  • Supports local residents by sharing important information about services available throughout Wood Buffalo
  • Connects multiple stakeholders, is innovative about complex issues and strives to be collaborative and transparent

Julianne North Bourque

Julianne North Bourque
  • Member of the Rotary Club Executive
  • Instrumental in bringing and maintaining the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program to Fort McMurray
  • The RMWB program currently has over 2,800 children enrolled and over 1,600 graduates
  • Has become a regional program ambassador, speaks at national and international conferences about the program and was asked to sit on the USA/Canada Book Selection Committee for 2017
  • Partnered with schools and the Wood Buffalo Regional Library to bring authors to the community to speak to students and advocated to proclaim October as “Literacy Month” through the RMWB.

Vanessa Chauhan

Vanessa Chauhan
  • Passionate community and global volunteer
  • Represented Fort McMurray at Miss Universe Canada and recently placed in the top 20
  • United Nations Association of Canada’s project manager for the Sport-In-A-Box program for Fort McMurray
  • Organized a charity poker tournament in Edmonton during the 2016 evacuation and raised $5000 for the Fort McMurray Red Cross
  • Has volunteered for the Salvation Army, Operation Smile Canada Foundation, Fort McMurray SPCA, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, 2013 Calgary Flood Relief and RMWB Community Clean Up

Erin Dolansky

Erin Dolansky
  • Communications director for the Fort McMurray Social Dance Club Board of Directors
  • Instrumental in the ongoing growth and development of the dance club
  • Always on the go and active, teaching full day dance workshops, coordinating monthly dances and the annual fundraiser
  • Spent over 100 hours volunteering with the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services to assist with the Fort McMurray Wildfire evacuees
  • Participates in the church choir at St. John the Baptist Parish

John Evans

John Evans
  • Chair of the United Way Community Investment Committee and vice president of the Board of Directors.
  • Key player in developing the partnership between the United Way of Fort McMurray and the Red Cross and in the formation and implementation of the “Community Partnerships Table”.
  • Has developed a strong supportive relationship with the regional social profit sector
  • Always wants to ask the hard questions to uncover the underlying issues and concerns
  • Charismatic, thoughtful, engaging, understanding, compassionate, honest and supportive community leader

Fort McMurray SPCA

Fort McMurray SPCA
  • Committed and dedicated staff who go above and beyond to support the best-in-class shelter
  • For every day that the shelter was open in 2015, more than one animal was taken into care and more than one animal was re-homed
  • Staff returned to Fort McMurray only days after being evacuated to support the pet rescue efforts, provide re-entry supply kits for returning pets and have accepted hundreds of animals into care through the fee-free surrender program
  • Throughout the pet evacuation efforts, staff and volunteers responded to hundreds of calls and messages from concerned pet owners and cared for pets who were awaiting reunification

Matthew James Lewis

Matthew James Lewis
  • Community member that offered his services during the 2016 wildfire
  • Immersed himself in Regional Emergency Operations Centre activities as an amateur radio operator, volunteer hotline operator and logistics assistant
  • Took an inventory of undamaged hotels in Fort McMurray and contacted the owners to use the hotels for firefighters, RMWB staff and other response personnel
  • Ran the Clearwater Hotel for first responder personnel and assisted with the Critical Incident and Stress Management Team to identify individuals in need of support
  • Dedicated, hardworking and respected community member who went above and beyond the call of duty

Amanda Mercer

Amanda Mercer
  • Committed community volunteer and leader
  • Founder of the Wood Buffalo Women in Networking Group
  • Member of Fort McMurray Search & Rescue Society
  • President of the Borealis Canoe Club, member of the Alberta Recreational Canoeing Association, Paddle Canada, and the Clearwater River Heritage River Committee
  • Co-Chair of the 2018 Alberta Winter Games Host Society

NorthStar Auto Group

NorthStar Auto Group
  • Local philanthropists and community minded business
  • Dedicated to the community and citizens of Wood Buffalo
  • Opened company gas pumps to ensure everyone evacuated safely during the 2016 wildfire and evacuation
  • Rallied donations and coordinated delivery of supplies to northern Alberta evacuation centres and response personnel that were still in Wood Buffalo
  • Sent a special signed “THANK YOU” banner back to Fort McMurray that was proudly hung for all to see

Yvonne Ormson

Yvonne Ormson
  • Empathetic, positive and uplifting educator and friend
  • Instructor of the Basic Shelf and Slow Cooker Program at the Wood Buffalo Food Bank
  • Mentor and confidante for her students and clients
  • Creates an open, welcoming environment where students learn life skills and cooking
  • Truly cares about the well being of her students by listening and making everyone feel significant and supported

C.J. Quinton

C.J. Quinton
  • Long term resident and active community supporter
  • Chief Operating Officer for TAWS Security
  • Youth soccer coach and respected mentor
  • Involved with Fort McMurray no. 468 First Nation through partnerships, donations and volunteering
  • Volunteered many hours during the 2016 wildfire and evacuation by providing assistance, security and expertise

YMCA Newalta Childcare Centre

YMCA Newalta Childcare Centre
  • Caring, responsible, loving and supportive childcare professionals
  • Provide personalized and compassionate care to each child and family
  • Calmly jumped into action the day of the 2016 wildfire and evacuation
  • Kept the children calm and prepared each child for the long journey ahead
  • Selfless individuals who put the children’s needs first at all times and support their emotional, physical and intellectual needs

Congratulations to all the 2016 Nominees!

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