The CEO of one of the province’s largest non-profits and the former chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Janet Austin has reached the highest level of achievement in both the social and business sectors.
Austin has guided the YWCA Metro Vancouver, which has a $28.3-million annual operating budget, through a number of transitions that has put the organization at the heart of the lives of tens of thousands of British Columbians using its services and programs and supporting their physical and mental well-being at more than 40 locations.
A champion of social change, Austin previously served as director of development services for BC Housing, as executive director of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland, and chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. She currently volunteers on various committees and boards, including the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Big Sisters honorary advisory board, and the City of Vancouver Healthy City for All Leadership Table.
Austin was named by the Women’s Executive Network as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2008. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2013 and has received the Queen Elizabeth Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.
Over the past decade, Austin has spearheaded community-focused initiatives at the YWCA, expanding its geographic and social reach in order to increase access to affordable housing for low- income single mothers and women leaving abusive relationships, supporting youth in foster care to transition to independence, and broadening services for marginalized women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Kim Baird, CM
During her six terms as elected chief for the Tsawwassen First Nation, Kim Baird led the First Nation on a path of prosperous self-governance through the negotiation and implementation of the first modern treaty in the BC Treaty Negotiation Process.
The Tsawwassen First Nation treaty negotiations are recognized as a model for effective negotiations throughout Canada and the world. Much sought after as a motivational speaker, Baird makes herself available to any and all seeking advice on First Nations. She serves on many boards including Clear Seas, Canada Public Policy Forum, and the Premier's Aboriginal Business Investment Council.
The former chief's experience, knowledge and impact on creating change for First Nations governance continues to be instrumental in opening doors and creating relationships and opportunities, which would otherwise not exist. Her community is now on the road to prosperity and self-sufficiency by creating employment opportunities and attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. She initiated the Tsawwassen Mills project, a commercial real-estate development on Tsawwassen First Nation lands, currently estimated to be a $780-million project.
She became a member of the Order of Canada for showing exemplary leadership and vision by negotiating and implementing the first modern treaty in the BC Treaty Negotiation Process. Baird has received an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University and a distinguished alumni award from Kwantlen Polytechnic Institute. Other accolades include Canada's Top 40 Under 40 Award, the National Aboriginal Women in Leadership Distinction Award, Vancouver Magazine's Power 50 Award, and Canada's Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award.
Beverley Boys, CM
Beverley Boys, a female diver who dominated the sport in the 1960s and through much of the ‘70s and went on to be a successful diving coach, is the major driving force behind BC Dive, the organization responsible for developing and promoting diving throughout British Columbia.
Boys began her diving career in 1962 in Toronto and went on to win provincial championships in Ontario, B.C., Manitoba and Quebec. She is a 34 time national champion and a three-time Olympian. She won three gold, three silver and two bronze medals at four Commonwealth Games and was chosen as Canada’s Athlete of the Year in 1969 and in 1970. She is a four-time Olympic judge.
Since retirement from competitive diving, Boys has served as a coach and official in competitions around the world, judging at the highest levels including four Olympic Games, five World Championships and six Commonwealth Games. She is a member of the Diving Canada Plongeon Officials Committee and was elevated to the chair of the officials committee, spearheading the development and implementation to improve the expertise and consistency of Canadian judges.
Her energy, organizational ability, and her tough-minded will to succeed have made BC Dive a successful organization and many successful Canadian divers credit Boys for their achievements in the sport. Closer to home, she began diving clubs in White Rock and Surrey, which has become an important training centre for B.C. divers.
In 2014, Beverley Boys was recognized by Sport BC with a Daryl Thompson Award for her contribution to the development of the sport of diving throughout the province over the past 34 years. She was voted Official of the Year in B.C. in 2005 and was a 2013 Sports Officials of Canada winner. She was named Diver of the Decade with Scott Cranham, and was recently appointed to the Order of Canada.
Dr. Allen Eaves
Allen Eaves is a leading leukemia specialist and founder owner of Vancouver’s STEMCELL Technologies Inc. (STEMCELL), now the largest biotechnology company in Canada with more than 800 employees. He is credited with developing innovative products for the emerging industry that will lead to future cell therapies for cancer and other serious diseases.
STEMCELL sells 2,500 products, which it distributes through a global network to thousands of customers who are both academic and industry researchers. Under Dr. Eaves’ leadership, STEMCELL has been fuelled by profitable growth at rates averaging 20 per cent per year for the last 23 years.
Before STEMCELL, he founded the Terry Fox Laboratory and was its director for 25 years, building the laboratory into an internationally recognized research centre known for being an incubator of new ideas such as the regulation of growth and maturation of blood-forming stem cells. He also served on the board and as chair of MITACS. He sits on the board of directors of the Canadian Stem Cell Network; the Canadian Stem Cell Foundation; the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine and the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery.
As Head of Hematology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and the BC Cancer Agency for 18 years, he launched one of the finest bone marrow transplant programs in the world which, by the early 1990s, had treated more than 1,500 patients. Dr. Eaves has published over 200 papers in leading peer-review scientific journals. He has been elected as president of the International Society of Cell Therapy; president of the American Society of Blood and Marrow Transplantation; founding treasurer of the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cell Therapy; and a member of Health Canada’s Expert Working Group on the Safety of Organs and Tissues for Transplantation.
He has been awarded the prestigious R. M. Taylor Medal by the Canadian Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute of Canada; Distinguished Alumni Service Award and Honorary Degree from Acadia University; the Polish National Hematology Society Medal; UBC’s Distinguished Medical Lecture Award; Lifetime Membership Award from the International Society of Cell Therapy; and the Genome BC Award for Scientific Excellence.
Required to retire in 2006 from the VGH, BCCA and UBC, Dr. Eaves became professor emeritus of Hematology and has devoted himself to growing STEMCELL Technologies Inc. with the goal of making better tools and reagents for cancer and other researchers, as well as creating jobs in industry for young people who love science.
Frank Giustra, a leading Canadian entrepreneur in both the natural resource and filmmaking sectors, is also an outstanding philanthropist, making an impact around the globe and especially in the humanitarian field.
In 1997, Giustra established the Radcliffe Foundation, which supports a wide variety of international and local causes, focusing on education, children, economic development and homelessness. He chaired the successful $26-million fundraising campaign for Streetohome Foundation, and most recently has actively responded to the global refugee crisis by providing humanitarian aid and supplies to refugee camps in Greece and Turkey. He has visited the crisis region a number of times over the last seven-months and plans to return at the end of June 2016 to visit a rehabilitated site – a private-public partnership between the Radcliffe Foundation and the Greek government – to accommodate 800 refugees in Thessaloniki, Greece. Closer to home, the Radcliffe Foundation supports a number of causes and organizations, and recently donated 100,000 to support the emergency interventions and provide essential items to evacuees of the Fort McMurray wild-fire.
Since 2005, Giustra has been a significant financial and active executive member of the International Crisis Group, a widely-recognized independent, non-partisan source of analysis and advice to policymakers on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. In 2007, he and former U.S. president Bill Clinton launched the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, with a focus on creating social and economic development programs through impact investing in parts of the world where poverty is widespread. He is also a founding patron and active mentor of the Boys Club Network, an at-risk youth mentoring group in Vancouver.
Giustra began his working life in the investment industry, eventually joining Yorkton Securities in the 1980s. He took over as president and CEO in the 1990s, leading it to become an internationally renowned natural resources investment bank. By 1997, he turned his entrepreneurial skills to the entertainment business, founding Lionsgate Entertainment, now one of the world’s largest independent film companies. He is a significant investor in Thunderbird Films and president of Fiore Group of Companies, a firm managing a broad portfolio of private equity investments, specializing in food and lifestyle, art and entertainment.
Frank Giustra is the recipient of many awards including the 2014 Dalai Lama Humanitarian Award.
John Mann is a founding member of one of British Columbia’s iconic musical groups, Spirit of the West. He is also an actor, solo artist and dedicated humanitarian.
Spirit of the West was formed in 1984 and Mann has played a key role in its life, growth and message. Over its 30-plus year history, Spirit of the West is recognized as a pioneer in Canadian Celtic music, having toured extensively in Europe, the United States and across Canada countless times.
Spirit has three gold albums and two platinum. They have also been honoured with awards, such as the Hall of Fame of the Western Canadian Music Association, the National Achievement Award from The Society of Composers and Authors of Canada, membership in the BC Music Hall of Fame, and a star in the Star Walk on Vancouver’s Theatre Row.
With nearly 300-recorded songs, one in particular, Home for a Rest, has become a multi-generational favourite, known by millions and often called “Canada’s unofficial national anthem”. Spirit’s pioneering efforts opened the door for other musicians and groups to successfully pursue the genre that they established.
Mann has a lengthy list of theatre, television, and musical credits but it is in his key role in the music of Spirit of the West, which has resonated deeply with British Columbians. The band’s association with B.C. is as strong as any musical group in its history, their song lyrics resonate deeply with individual experience and Mann’s distinctive voice is the band’s trademark.
Mann’s contributions to charity are remarkable, especially considering the great challenges he has faced in his own life. A cancer survivor, Mann works actively with the BC Cancer Agency and BC Cancer Foundation.
Mann has done charitable work with the Bulembu Project in Swaziland, assisting this village of orphaned children decimated by the AIDS epidemic. He has travelled there three times and has performed and recorded with the children of Bulembu.
Access to Music Foundation of BC presented John with their Beautiful Heart Award in 2014 to recognize his many charitable efforts.
In 2014, Mann announced that he had early onset Alzheimer’s disease and did not want to spend any more energy trying to hide his symptoms. For two more years, until April of this year, the band continued to perform together, with Mann courageously staying fully involved and making significant contributions to society’s awareness of Alzheimer disease. He now performs benefits for Alzheimer societies across the country.
Saleema Noon is British Columbia’s preeminent sexual health educator and a tireless advocate for empowerment education.
Since 1998, thousands of children, teens and adults throughout the province have attended her comprehensive “body science” workshops, specifically tailored to reflect her firm belief that every person – regardless of race, religion, age, ability, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual attraction – deserves respect. She arms young children with knowledge and skills to keep their bodies safe and empowers parents to share positive, meaningful messages about sexuality with their children at every age.
In one year Noon personally presented sexual health workshops to 630 groups of children, teens and adults in diverse communities in all corners of B.C. Committed to the growth and success of others in the field, she has voluntarily trained, mentored and inspired dozens.
In addition to teaching body science in schools, Noon co-created B.C.’s first empowerment workshop for pre-teen girls, Go Girl!, in 1999. In 2010, Go Girl! became iGirl, tackling topics such as body image, media literacy, gender stereotypes, internet safety, consent, healthy relationships and assertiveness skills. In 2014, Noon launched iGuy, a first-of-its-kind empowerment workshop for 9- to 12-year-old boys. Facilitated in an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity, iGuy challenges society’s definition of masculinity to help boys have healthy relationships, express their emotions, make smart decisions online and live life in a way that honours who they truly are. Both iGirl and iGuy have received rave reviews from participants, parents and teachers.
Although Noon personally provides financial support for youth to participate in her workshops, her recently created Saleema Noon Empowerment Foundation aims to sponsor body science, iGirl and iGuy workshops on a larger scale at schools where children need them most.
A breast cancer survivor, Noon has served on the board of directors of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (BC/Yukon Region), as well as others currently. Options for Sexual Health has honoured her with their Educator of the Year award, and in 2011 she received the YWCA Metro Vancouver’s Women of Distinction Connecting the Community Award.
Her book Talk Sex Today, co-authored with Order of British Columbia and Order of Canada member Meg Hickling, will be released in summer 2016.
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, OC
Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, recognized as one of the world’s leading landscape architects, has pioneered many recognized approaches to outdoor environments during her 60 years of working in her profession. She is known for her creativity, artistry, innovation, excellence and recognition of the importance of the environment.
Oberlander has designed many playgrounds in Canada and her design for the play area at the Children’s Creative Centre at Expo 67 in Montreal changed the way that designers thought about children’s play and playgrounds. She established respectful references with her design for the landscape of the Museum of Anthropology in collaboration with the architect Arthur Erickson. The Taiga garden at the National Gallery in Ottawa, and landscape restoration at the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly building in Yellowknife and the 3 East School in Inuvik are examples of paying respect to the native ecology.
Working in partnership with some of the world’s most renowned architects, many public spaces around the world have her influences. Her international projects include the Canadian Chancery in Washington, D.C., the Canadian Embassy in Berlin, and the courtyard for the New York Times building. Closer to home, she contributed to the designs of Robson Square and the Law Courts Complex in Vancouver, Library Square at the Vancouver Public Library, the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver General Hospital burn unit garden and the visitor’s centre project at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, which answers to the issues of climate change and environmental responsibility.
She was among the first class of women to graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Design with a degree in landscape architecture and from the beginning of her career placed a high value on education, mentoring students and networking to young landscape graduates.
She is the recipient of 10 honorary degrees, the Order of Canada, several lifetime achievement awards, honorary memberships, medals and fellowships.
Pauline Rafferty, a trained archeologist and working as a public servant, became recognized as one of Canada’s leading executives in the cultural sector as she transformed the Royal BC Museum into one of the premier museums of its kind and recognized around the globe.
As chief executive officer, Rafferty revitalized the RBCM, widened its accessibility and strengthened its reputation as she worked to bring world-class exhibits to visitors and a business focus to the institution. As a result, she helped Victoria become a leading visitor destination in North America and helped strengthen its tourism sector and economy.
Rafferty devoted her adult life to ensuring that British Columbians could enjoy top-quality cultural experiences. Early in her career she helped develop conservation and heritage policies for the Province and tourism marketing programs. More recently, she serves as vice chair on the board for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg where she brings her specialized knowledge, management know-how and excellent interpersonal skills to the task of building a new institution for the country.
Throughout her career, Rafferty has been a model for women working in senior public service jobs, helping many advance their careers. In the 1990s, she served as assistant deputy minister at the Ministry of Women’s Equality.
She also served as a board member of numerous organizations, including, Simon Fraser University, National Capital Commission Advisory board, Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Victoria and others. Since her retirement, she has brought her valuable attributes to her voluntary work for the Provincial Health Authority, Government House Foundation and the University of Victoria Gustavson school of business, Education Inc. and others.
Sandra Richardson is an innovative community leader who effectively uses her skills to create relevant and successful programs that respond to community needs.
Under Richardson’s leadership, the funds managed by the Victoria Foundation have grown from $20 million to $250 million. This growth is largely due to her outreach to the community in identifying worthy and needed causes, which have promoted widespread community giving.
Among Richardson’s initiatives are the annual Victoria’s Vital Signs report, the Every Steps Count running/walking program and the Smart and Caring Physical Literacy program, launched by the Governor General. Many of her programs have been replicated and successfully implemented across British Columbia, Canada and beyond. The foundation is also involved in projects building relations and capacity within First Nations communities.
The Vital Signs report measures key issue areas affecting the Capital region’s quality of life and is used to identify areas of need and monitor progress in key issue areas. The concept is now being used by about 50 community foundations across Canada and overseas.
Richardson is a change-maker, a supporter of people, ideas and action. She does this quietly, using every opportunity to redirect the spotlight onto others.
She frequently advises non-profits on governance issues, recognizing that good governance is correlated to their impact. And she is regularly sought as a valued participant or leader for other community initiatives. Recent examples include her service as co-chair of the University of Victoria’s Institute for Studies and Innovation in Community-University Engagement Committee, member of the Leadership Committee for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness and member of the City Manager’s community advisory committee for the City of Victoria.
Red Robinson is a well-known celebrity broadcaster who has used his public recognition to support and promote many fundraising initiatives and in particular the Timmy's Christmas Telethon for the BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities.
Robinson began his career as a 16-year-old high school disc jockey and grew to be the most awarded radio entertainment performer in the history of British Columbia.
He has helped countless broadcasters get their start and has given valuable advice on how to succeed in the business.
Robinson was the first disc jockey to play rock ‘n’ roll to Vancouver, introducing his audiences to the likes of Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly in the 1950s and ‘60s. He has impacted the history of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll music throughout North America, enough so that a musical based on his life, Red Rock Diner, was written and has toured extensively including 11 weeks at the Arts Club Theatre.
In the 23 years he hosted the Timmy's Christmas Telethon on a CBC regional network, more than $100 million has been raised. He was honoured with a floor in the Lions International Children’s building for his contributions to children with disabilities. His philanthropic work includes the CHILD Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
In addition to many broadcast and music industry awards (he was inducted into the Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame of in 1997 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995), he received the Canada 125 medal for contributions to the community and the Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal. In 2012, the University of the Fraser Valley awarded Red Robinson an honorary Doctorate of Letters.
Sporting legend and successful investment banker David Sidoo has leveraged his success to become a leading philanthropist and a catalyst for improving the lives of many British Columbians through his support of many programs.
The first person of Indian descent to play professional football, Sidoo led the UBC Thunderbirds to an undefeated season and first-ever Vanier Cup national championship in 1982. He then played five years in the CFL with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
After retiring from professional sports, he went on to build several companies in the energy sector and has been a founding shareholder of many start-ups.
He has been most impactful in making a difference in the lives of youth all across British Columbia. David and his wife, Manjy, started Sidoo Family Giving, an organization actively involved in the community for the betterment of families and at-risk youth of all ages, specifically supporting children’s breakfast programs, children’s cancer research, mentoring programs, teenage sports programs and community scholarships. Additionally the Sidoo Family Athletics Endowment is the largest of its kind at UBC.
In 2015, Sidoo was recognized by UBC as one of the top 100 outstanding alumni and also honoured with a Navigator award for being one of the eminent leaders in the South-Asian community. He has been inducted both into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Football Hall of Fame, receiving the prestigious Bob Ackles award. Internationally, Sidoo is a recipient of the Global Punjabi Society Excellence in Entrepreneurship award and the NRI Institute Pride of India Philanthropy award.
Brian Smith has served the public in elected roles, both at the provincial and municipal level, and has led significant social innovations in the arena of sports, education, law and business.
As mayor of Oak Bay, Smith was a driving force behind a new recreation centre which remains a community hub, a tennis complex, and miniature golf course. He seeded the development of affordable housing for seniors and low income families.
Passionate about tennis, Smith used his leadership skills to move the sport forward both locally and nationally. Serving on the board of Tennis Canada (chair), he was integral in building the Tennis Centre at York University, retaining the Rogers’ Cup, and launching programs to revive interest in tennis and to develop promising athletes.
Early in his law career he established the first legal aid office in Victoria and later, as B.C.’s attorney general, he helped victims in British Columbia through his initiatives supporting victims’ rights at the local level. His other justice-related initiatives include the establishment of the International Commercial Arbitration Centre in Vancouver to provide dispute resolution services, and his work to set up a Victoria law school. On the national and international level, he helped shape the repatriation of Canada’s Constitution.
First Nations relationships have been fostered both through his legal, business and community service. At CN, he hired a First Nations leader to improve relations in B.C. and as chair of BC Hydro, he worked to create partnerships with them.
As chair of CN, he successfully advocated for greater charitable contributions from the company and, on the business side, saw its national and international corporate goals fulfilled with the major increase of rail freight after his successful campaign to have a new rail tunnel constructed from Michigan to Ontario.
Smith was awarded the Queen’s Commemorative Medal for public service in 1992.
Marjorie White is a pioneering community builder who changed the framework of supports for Aboriginal peoples leaving reserves.
She was one of the founders of the first Aboriginal service agencies in Canada to assist Aboriginals migrating to urban centres from reserves, and the social innovation evolved into a national Friendship Centres movement that now serves hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal peoples.
Today, there are 25 Friendship Centres in British Columbia and, collectively, they make up the largest network of service-providing agencies in B.C., providing direct services and advocacy for off-reserve and urban Aboriginal peoples. They also serve as bridges between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people throughout B.C.’s towns and cities.
White sits as the Elder Advisor to the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) Executive Committee and most recently co-founded the BCAAFC Elders Council which acts as an advisory body to the provincial Board of Directors.
Seeing the critical need to support Indigenous men and women navigating the criminal justice system, White helped found the Circle of Eagles Society, a halfway home for those leaving incarceration, which provides a link to cultural supports, teachings and guidance from appropriate service programs. She was its executive director for 15 years.
She was the first Aboriginal person appointed as a Citizenship Court Judge in Canada. She was the first woman and first Aboriginal person appointed to the Vancouver Police Commission.
She is the recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal, International Year of the Volunteer Award nominated by Correctional Services Canada; Women Making a Difference Award from Vancouver Society of Visible Minority Women; Women of Distinction Award from the YWCA; Courage Award from the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing; and the Golden Feather from Professional Native Women’s Association. She is recognized by her own Huu-ay-aht First Nation as a cultural leader and a high-ranking Matriarch in the Potlatch system.
Dr. Peter K. K. Wong
Peter K.K. Wong is a community leader, businessman, philanthropist and physician who serves a large number of patients with multicultural backgrounds in Vancouver.
In addition to a thriving medical practice, Dr. Wong has been an influential advocate for strong trade relations with China, participating in a number of trade missions with all levels of government and serving as a special advisor to the Musqueam Nation for Asia-Pacific affairs. He has also has launched a number of successful businesses in various industries.
The son of the legendary late "Mayor of Chinatown," King Wong, Dr. Wong has continued his father’s legacy by being involved with a range of significant community organizations, including the Vancouver Police Board, the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver, the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association, the Yue Shan Society, Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association and the Senior Chinese Society of Vancouver, among many others. He is also a founder of West Point Grey Academy and its foundation. The school now has more than 900 students.
Dr. Eric Yoshida
Dr. Eric Yoshida is recognized throughout Canada and around the world for his clinical care and research excellence in liver disease.
Formerly medical director of the BC Liver Transplant Program, he found a way for patients with hepatitis B to have successful liver transplants and established the first program in Canada to provide HIV patients with the right to be allowed liver transplantation.
He discovered that BC’s First Nations communities suffered disproportionately from primary biliary cirrhosis and autoimmune liver disease, destroying the stereotype that alcoholic liver disease was the problem, and clearing the way for First Nations patients to undergo liver transplantation.
Dr. Yoshida built a centre for excellence in liver disease that provides treatment, research, education and collaboration with the medical community and the citizens of British Columbia. He created a clinical research centre in hepatitis and liver disease where none existed before.
He is an outstanding teacher, committing many hours to convey the sophisticated knowledge of hepatology and hepatitis to medical trainees of all levels. In particular, he has worked with S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a large multicultural social agency, to bring its clients awareness that hepatitis is a silent disease until the latter stage. Early diagnosis is critical in improving survival.
Dr. Eric Yoshida recently received the Distinguished Service and Meritorious Achievement Award, from his peers, the Canadian Association for the Study of Liver Disease. He received Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012 and the Martin M. Hoffman Award for excellence in research from the UBC Department of Medicine in 2013 and the Clinical Excellence Award from the Vancouver General Hospital in 2015.