Alberta Community Leaders Receive National Honour

Monday, 31 Alberta community leaders received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in recognition of their exceptional volunteer contributions in a wide range of fields.

The award pays tribute to the passion, dedication and commitment of volunteers and recognizes their achievements in the community.

The medals were presented at an Edmonton ceremony co-hosted by Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell and Legislative Assembly of Alberta Speaker Robert Wanner. The medal recipients are from Calgary, Camrose, Cochrane, DeBolt, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Innisfail, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Sherwood Park, Stony Plain and Whitecourt.

“These hard-working citizens are focused on building strong, caring and vibrant communities that allow all members to thrive. One of my favourite parts of the role of Lieutenant Governor is the opportunity to meet with outstanding Albertans and recognize individuals who embody the best of what it means to be Canadian.”

~Her Honour the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta

“It is an honour to recognize the commitment and dedication of these deserving community leaders from across the province. These volunteers enrich the lives of Albertans and make a positive impact in our communities.”

~The Honourable Robert Wanner, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta

The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers was first presented in Ottawa in April 2016. An official honour created by the Crown and part of the Canadian Honours System, the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers incorporates and replaces the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award and builds on that award’s legacy and spirit by honouring volunteerism in Canada. Lieutenant Governor Mitchell presented the medals at the Edmonton ceremony on behalf of the Governor General of Canada. Visit for general program and nomination details.

Recipient Citations – Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers Ceremony, Oct 15, 2018, Edmonton

Victoria Carter, Edmonton – Victoria Carter currently volunteers with the Red Cross as part of its Disaster Management Team, and has helped countless Albertans through several natural disasters, including the Slave Lake and Fort McMurray wildfires, as well as the 2013 flood in southern Alberta.

Bill Cox, Calgary – Bill Cox is a dedicated member of the Royal Canadian Legion who has served as president of the North Calgary Branch #264 since 2010. He sits on the planning committee for the annual Field of Crosses Memorial Drive project and organizes the daily breakfasts served at the branch after each of the November sunrise ceremonies. He has also volunteered with Scouts Canada for over 35 years.

Dean Edwards, Camrose – Through the growing sport of pickleball, Dean Edwards promotes and encourages active citizenship, wellness and fitness among people of all ages. As president of the Camrose Pickleball Club for the past five years, he has dedicated his time to organizing the many facets of the club’s activities.

Jason Finkbeiner, Sherwood Park  – Jason Finkbeiner has helped improve the lives of children in Zambia as a goodwill ambassador of Mercy Touch Mission International. He has also been actively involved with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Corps since the 1990s.

Alex Hann, Lethbridge – Alex Hann has spent a lifetime working to improve the lives of others in the communities he has called home. His fundraising efforts for the Coaldale library and hospital have helped these vital institutions remain open and expand. In Lethbridge, he served with the Rotary Club, the University of Lethbridge Senate and the Lethbridge Regional Police Commission.

Krista Hill, Calgary  – After 12 years with the Community Volunteer Tax Program, Krista Hill has become a mentor and resource person for new volunteers in Calgary. Other organizations have also benefited from her enthusiasm and expertise, including St. Francis of Assisi Parish, the Women’s Centre of Calgary and the First Lutheran Church.

Katt Hryciw, Calgary – For more than 10 years, Katt Hryciw has volunteered with the Children’s International Summer Villages youth exchange program. She is also one of the founders of the Cum Vino Cantus choir, which performs at various events in the community.

Azeem Iftikhar, Edmonton – Since 2007, Azeem Iftikhar has been preparing tax returns for low-income families free of charge,  first through his personal accounting firm and then as a partner with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. He also served on the boards of the Pakistan Canada Association of Edmonton and the Children of Islamic Nations.

Marlene Kellier-Pinchbeck, Whitecourt 
A respected lawyer and citizen of Whitecourt, Marlene Kellier-Pinchbeck has given back by sharing her expertise with the community services advisory board, the McLeod River Primary Care Network and the Legal Aid Society of Alberta. A passionate karate teacher who has guided and empowered students both young and old, she has been a judge at many tournaments in the province.

Philip Koning, Edmonton – Since 1990, Philip Koning has volunteered with organizations that help individuals and families deal with mental health issues. He has dedicated thousands of hours to the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Bibles for Missions Thrift Store.

Chandrakant Lad, Calgary – Chandrakant Lad has been involved in the Gujarati Mandal of Calgary and the Calgary Indo Canadian Centre Association for more than 25 years and is well known for his organizational and leadership skills. He mobilizes volunteers and donors to fundraise for worthy causes in India and Africa, with a focus on health, education and social service.

Reno Laseur, Fort McMurray – Reno Laseur led efforts to reconstruct a local heritage village site after it sustained significant damage from devastating wildfires and flooding. In the process, he learned traditional techniques related to caring for historic buildings and artifacts. He also recruited new volunteers and summer staff, to whom he has become a trusted mentor.

David Legg, Cochrane – David Legg has worked tirelessly for several decades to promote healthy living and sport throughout his province and the country. Over the past 18 years, he has taken on numerous roles of increasing importance with the Canadian Paralympic Committee. His efforts have had a profound impact on the lives of people with disabilities, as well as on the Paralympic movement.

Erwin Loewen, Edmonton – For over 30 years, Erwin Loewen has been involved with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, organizing numerous events to celebrate and support the Air Force community. Through the Edmonton Aviation Heritage Society and the Air Cadet Museum and Archive Association, he keeps local aviation history alive.

Pauline Mathezer, Calgary – Pauline Mathezer has been volunteering for over 38 years, notably with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, to help low-income individuals file their income tax returns. She often travels to different seniors’ centres, such as The Good Companions, to help hundreds of people with their taxes.

Stephanie Miller, Innisfail- Stephanie Miller has been volunteering with the Innisfail and District Historical Village for more than 15 years and has been an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion for the past 10 years. She also volunteers at her local parish, driving its members to church and to medical appointments.

Agnes Minnes, Camrose – Agnes Minnes has been a dedicated member of the Camrose Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for over 40 years. Her selfless devotion and compassion can be seen in her active participation on numerous committees, her fundraising efforts, and her visits with sick people convalescing at home or in hospital.

Katrina O’Reilly, Calgary – Despite having a busy schedule as a police officer, Katrina O’Reilly takes the time to invest in volunteer efforts. She has served on three police service honour guards, most recently in Calgary. She has also coached basketball and has been part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics since 1996.

Lorne Edward Parker, Edmonton – Since 1990, Lorne Edward Parker has volunteered with the Edmonton Gateway Rotary Club, and has led a number of local and international humanitarian projects. He consistently demonstrates tremendous leadership and has increased access to educational resources at both the local and international levels.

Michael Permack, Calgary – Since 2008, Michael Permack has been an ambassador for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Cancer Connection program, which connects cancer patients and survivors. By serving on the National Task Force and the Alberta/Northwest Territories boards of directors, he has opened the doors to new volunteers, expanded the reach of the Society, and worked to help both cancer survivors and those who have recently been diagnosed.

Evert Poor, Sherwood Park  – Evert Poor has spent more than 17 years educating Albertans on their shared heritage and facilitating greater civic engagement in local communities. He is a role model in his community thanks to his work with Indigenous groups that has helped nurture entrepreneurism, civic engagement and greater diversity throughout northern Alberta.

Augusto Ribeiro, Edmonton  – Since 2004, Gus Ribeiro has volunteered on over 30 international assignments with the Canadian Executive Service Organization. In particular, he has worked with local municipal employees in the Philippines to build a not-for-profit organization focused on strengthening municipal governance through the use of information technology systems.

Solomon Rolingher, Edmonton – Solomon Rolingher has made significant contributions to the city of Edmonton as a community builder and leader of a wide range of institutions including the River Valley Alliance and the Phoenix Multi-Faith Society for Harmony. He has also lead endeavours in a range of areas, including the arts, post-secondary education, health care and the legal community.

William Shaver, Stony Plain- Bill Shaver has spent over a decade volunteering throughout his community to make it a better place. His involvement with his local food bank and his commitment to mentoring youth has improved the lives of countless families.

Alan Skoreyko, Edmonton – Alan Skoreyko has spent more than 20 years devoting his time to the volunteer sector in Edmonton. Through his work with such organizations as the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibitions, and the Sherwood Park Minor Hockey Association, he has had a significant impact on his community and continues to inspire others to volunteer.

Don Wall, Calgary  – Don Wall has been with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program for over 41 years, helping people file their taxes and serving as a mentor and resource person to other volunteers. He also provides tax return guidance to newcomers to Canada through Immigrant Services Calgary.

Ralph Westwood, Red Deer  – A former nurse and hospital administrator, Ralph Westwood is passionate about helping others and giving back to his community. For five years, he led the Tri-Community Health and Wellness Foundation as its chair, helping to raise money for the Westview Health Centre and community wellness programs in Parkland County, Spruce Grove and Stony Plain.

Carol Wideman, Camrose  – More than 10 years ago, Carol Wideman stepped in to assist at a Special Olympics ball tournament. Since then, she has coached and served as chair of the organization’s Camrose affiliate, implementing several new initiatives and sports programs to benefit young athletes.

Sofia Yaqub, Edmonton – Sofia Yaqub has spent more than 30 years volunteering in her community. A member of numerous charitable boards and organizations, she has spearheaded efforts to improve the lives of children, seniors, immigrants and refugees. Countless individuals have received improved access to health care and education thanks to her efforts.

Sandra Young, Red Deer – Sandra Young has been a regular weekly volunteer at the Red Deer Hospice since 2012, readily taking on any task sent her way with a pleasant, kind and helpful manner. She has played a key role in organizing hospice events, helping to ensure patients in palliative care have peace, comfort and dignity in their final days.

Monica Zeniuk, Edmonton – Since 2003, Monica Zeniuk has been a champion of seniors and has been instrumental in the creation of improved long-term care facilities across the country. She also uses her vast network of connections to assist non-profit organizations in providing humane societies with gently used goods from sponsoring hotels.