Gateway Gazette

Albertans Recognized for Work to Transform Lives and Reduce Stigma

Inspiring stories of hope, recovery and service were celebrated today at the fourth annual True Awards ceremony, hosted by the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction.

Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell presented the awards which recognize compassionate and forward-thinking efforts to help Albertans find the services and supports they need, foster recovery for those living with mental illness and addiction, and make Alberta communities more accepting places to be.

The 2015 True Award recipients are:

True Grit – Jeffrey Chalifoux (Edmonton)
Jeff has travelled a remarkable path, from substance abuse, addiction and incarceration to become a respected student leader and volunteer. After completing the Edmonton Drug Treatment and Community Restoration Court Program, he has pursued social work studies at NorQuest College and the University of Calgary. Jeff also started an Aboriginal student peer support group to help students stay in school and regularly shares his story of recovery with other young people in the community.

True Compassion – Jillian Dacyk (Edmonton)
Jillian is the secretary for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Alberta Division. In her 30 years of service she has lived the values of her organization above and beyond her daily job requirements. Although the division’s phone number is not a help-line, she has nevertheless assisted thousands of individuals to find the right supports and services. She does more than refer people; she listens and responds with compassion and insight.

True Service – The Alberta Mental Health Patient Advocate Office
The Office works to ensure patients involuntarily detained in mental health facilities or under community treatment orders receive equal protection and benefit of the law. It investigates and resolves patient complaints and concerns, helps Albertans understand and exercise their rights under the Mental Health Act, and helps break down the stigma and social isolation people may experience when diagnosed with a mental illness.

True Leadership – Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner (Calgary)
Dr. Babins-Wagner is a longstanding Alberta innovator in mental health services and programs. She takes a leadership role in community social initiatives, conducts research and teaches. She also develops programs as CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre (CCC) and is the lead force behind National Depression Screening Day, a joint annual initiative with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, she extended CCC services to High River in response to the flood.

True Imagination –The Edmonton Drug Treatment and Community Restoration Court
The Court provides an innovative sentencing alternative for offenders with addictions and mental illness. Clients in the program are placed under close supervision and provided comprehensive support for their housing, medical, therapeutic and other social needs. The Court has been extremely successful in rehabilitating clients, including chronic addicts, and has helped transform the attitudes of judges, crown prosecutors, and defence lawyers toward offenders with addictions and mental health problems.

About the Circle
The Lieutenant Governor’s Circle is dedicated to reducing stigma related to mental illness and addiction, furthering public knowledge of the topic, and giving hope and comfort to those affected by letting them know that they are not alone.

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