2020 Order of Hamilton recipients
Rabia Saleem Awan
Rabia originally immigrated to Canada in 1996 from Pakistan. Rabia is being acknowledged with the Order of Hamilton for her tireless work as a volunteer in the Hamilton community. A pillar of the community, Rabia has been running programs both within and outside of the Muslim community. Over the past five years she has tirelessly served seniors at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque. She has secured annual funding, over $53,000 since 2015 from federal and provincial sources to take the seniors on outings to the Royal Ontario Museum, Grand River lunch cruises and Hamilton Harbour boat tours among others. Raising two children of her own, Rabia was also a foster parent to two children aged 5 and 3. She has served on the board of several local organizations including the Hamilton Mountain Mosque Rabia has served as the Chair of the Muslim Association of Hamilton Seniors Committee, a member of the Muslim Council of Greater Hamilton, volunteered with the Canadian Muslim Vote as Volunteer lead Hamilton Chapter. Organized a Ramadan Campus Iftar (fast breaking) by creating a working bridge between anti-violence and McMaster Muslim Students Association, where Muslims and non-Muslims alike broke fast together. Rabia serves as a wonderful example to her community on the value of volunteer service.
Jim has been named to the Order of Hamilton 2020 for his contribution to a wide array of charitable causes to the benefit of the residents of the City of Hamilton. Jim is a lawyer who has built a lifelong legacy of community service. His commitment to volunteer service began over 30 years ago which included his serving as a member of the board of directors of the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton-Wentworth, the Juravinski Cancer Centre Foundation and the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. He has served as the president of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, the Hamilton Club, Theatre Aquarius and the Hamilton Port Authority. He is a founding member of the Lawyer’s Legacy Fund for Children. As a member of the John Howard/Liaison College/David Lane Youth Success Fund Committee he has raised academic scholarships for youth at risk. He has also served on the boards of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Jim’s volunteerism and community service has spanned the City.
Dr. Margaret Denton
Margaret is being recognized with the Order of Hamilton 2020 marking several decades of work as a community leader and advocate for older adults in Hamilton and beyond. She has inspired through her leadership, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of volunteer hours to have been contributed to advocacy work to improve life for older adults and to forwarding projects such as Age Friendly Hamilton, Let’s Get Moving and Hamilton’s Senior Isolation Impact Plan to improve the life of older adults in our city. Margaret has served as the Chair of the Age Friendly Hamilton Collaborative Governance Steering Committee for six years. She has volunteered with the Hamilton Council on Aging for 15 years. She is a founding board member and has served as the president, vice -president and past-president of the Council. As a volunteer she chairs the Southern Ontario Age Friendly Network and she is the treasurer of the Ontario Council on Aging. Margaret has had a tremendous impact on life in Hamilton. She has ensured that the guiding vision of Hamilton include older adults- ‘the best place to raise a child and age successfully.’ To improving access to information and skills for countless older adults to positively age in Hamilton. Margaret is an Age Friendly Hamilton Champion.
Brenda is a dedicated and engaged resident of the City of Hamilton. She began by leading volunteer clean up and greeting activities in the GALA neighbourhood and her efforts have grown across the city. Brenda is the visionary and founder of Beautiful Alleys and is a tireless advocate in her keeping our community and city clean and green. She is truly a shining example of what can be accomplished by a small group of people. Benda inspires and organizes volunteers with multiple programs and projects such as the Team Up to Clean Up program, Community gardens, Pollinator Gardens and the Adopt-A-Park program. She was the lead volunteer in recruiting volunteers to help out with the Extreme Park makeovers at Birge Park, Woodlands Park and was instrumental in the recruitment of over 200 volunteers for the Extreme Park Makeover at Powell Park which was part of a TVO TV special called The Giver. She ahs also served on the Clean and Green Citizen Committee with the City of Hamilton. Brenda is the lead on the adoption of Powell Park, Birch Avenue Greenspace and co-lead on Woodlands Park and is now in the process of adopting J.C. Beemer Park. She is currently the editor of the North End Breezes community paper. From community gardens, to extreme park makeovers from alley way cleanup to community Easter events Brenda Duke is there serving her community.
Mary is being recognized with the Order of Hamilton for her 40 years of service with Scouts Canada. She has held numerous positions within the organization. She has been the driving force behind the Ancaster Beaver unit held at Marshall Memorial United Church in Ancaster. Mary has inspired others to volunteer with the movement even after their own children have graduated from the program. Besides being a weekly Beaver leader Mary has served 11 years as the Hamilton-Wentworth Area Registrar, as a member of the Hamilton-Wentworth Area Service Team for 25 years, as Area Commissioner for Beavers for 4 years, Sub-Area Commissioner for Hermitage Springs for over 10 years and as a Venturer Advisor for 2 years. As a local Beaver leader Mary communicates with the families of her Beaver unit weekly. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic she is still holding weekly virtual and in person meetings for her Beaver group of children ages Kindergarten to Grade 2. Over 1,500 young people and their families have benefited from the volunteerism of Mary Elop over the past 40 years.
Anthony has been named as a 2020 Order of Hamilton recipient in recognition of his volunteer work in support of his passion for accessibility. In 2014, Anthony was named a Mohawk College Alumni of Distinction recipient and recognized by the Rick Hansen Foundation as a Difference Maker. Anthony has created and produced a local television program that tackles accessibility awareness and inclusion in the Hamilton area. He has also founded Above and Beyond an organization helping to bridge the gap to accessibility and inclusion across the City of Hamilton. Anthony’s continued commitment to serving those in need of accessibility is an inspiration to the wider community.
George is being recognized for his long and tremendous contribution to the Hamilton Public Library. Since 1982 George has bene an active advocate for early technology adoption, internet connectivity and digital literacy across the city. George has served as a member of the Hamilton Public Library’s board for 18 years from 2001 to 2019 serving as chair or vice-chair for 9 years. He helped steer the library system through amalgamation and supported public computing through the HPL's 22 branches. As the past chair of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce's Science and Technology Committee, former board member of the Hamilton-Wentworth FreeNet, and as member of the Hamilton Spectator Community Editorial Board he helped build a connected and future ready Hamilton. George Geczy is a digital pioneer whose support allowed the library to transform from modems and CD-ROMS to in-branch laptop lending and eBooks. he never let the board forget that everyone deserves digital access. George is a champion for digital literacy and has contributed immensely to the Hamilton we all interact with digitally.
Dr. Nadia Eva Rosa
Dr. Nadia Eva Rosa was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia in 1938. She lived with her mother and her maternal grandparents in the Bratislava ghetto during World War ll. Captured on Christmas Day 1945, Nadia and her mother were transported to the Sered and Terezin concentration camps. She was six-years-old when she became a prisoner in the death camps. Her grandparents and many relatives perished. Nadia now holds a PH.D. in microbiology. She and her husband fled Soviet occupied Czechoslovakia in 1968. Dr. Rosa has been a lifelong advocate on behalf of local survivors. She inspired a small group of educators to form the committee that launched an annual seminar on the Holocaust, that is now in its 22nd year, with a total of 15,000 students having participated. She has spent her life delivering education about anti-Semitism, anti-racism and bullying. She has received the Shem Tov Award for her volunteer work at Beth Tikvah Synagogue and the UJA Federation of Hamilton’s highest award, the CeCe Schreiber Volunteer Excellence Award. Dr. Rosa is being recognized by the 2020 Order of Hamilton for a lifetime spent in the struggle against hatred, discrimination and her work in educating thousands of students on the powerful lessons of the past.
Raven Van Bommel
Raven is being acknowledged with the Order of Hamilton for her tremendous work on behalf of the low-income sector in Hamilton. She is the founder of Essential Aid and Family Services of Ontario; a vocal advocate for some of the most vulnerable families in Hamilton. Their mission is straightforward, to prevent hunger in children and lower health risk by providing free infant and children's essentials to families in need. Essential Aid has been serving the Hamilton area for over 10 years and is now serving over 600 families a month. Raven is a successful local entrepreneur in the tech sector. She has nonetheless made the necessary sacrifices of time, energy and treasure to launch and sustain Essential Aid. Today, Essential Aid is both a well funded and consistent contributor to the community we all live in.
Robert J. Wilkins
Robert has been named a recipient of the Order of Hamilton in 2020 in recognition of his accomplishments in support of a wide range of community projects. He has served most recently as the Public Fundraising Chair for Ancaster Performing Arts Centre inspiring many philanthropists and residents to donate time and money to the project. Robert has raised $5 million dollars in donations, pledges, and gifts in-kind to the Centre. He has helped raise money for the Music at Fieldcote program over the past 20 years. His work in the community has seen the beautification of the Ancaster Village Core, the creation of the Ancaster Farmers’ Market, restoration of the Hermitage with the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the maintenance and improvement of the Fieldcote Museum. He has served the broader community for many years as a member of the Ancaster Rotary Club, six years on the board of the Ancaster Information Centre, nine years on the board of the Bay Area Trust Fund and six years on the board of the Victorian Order of Nurses of Hamilton-Dundas branch. Robert’s service to Ancaster and the broader City of Hamilton has been exemplary and far ranging.
2019 Order of Hamilton recipients
Kathy loves basketball. For 50 years, she has paid it forward to children in the Hamilton community as a coach, coordinator and board member for the C.Y.O. and CANUSA Games. In 2000, Kathy became a member of the CANUSA Board of Directors. She has worked tirelessly on fundraising efforts and helped organize and execute the annual CANUSA Golf Tournament. Kathy is also a proud Hamiltonian and has volunteered her time with many other games and events including the 1988 Summer Games, 1991 Disabled Games, 1992 Senior Games and the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Dave has volunteered in the Hamilton sporting community for almost 60 years. ]From 1962 to 1982, he coached in 3 different sport areas at Alexander Park: Midget Boy’s Baseball, Girl’s Senior Softball, Bantam Boy’s Hockey. He also coached the Stelco Men’s Slo-pitch team, was a Board Member of Cub and Scout Troops at St. Paul’s Anglican Church for 5 years and CANUSA Games girl’s softball coordinator for 8 years. For the last 37 years, from 1982 to present, Dave has been on the CANUSA Board of Directors.
Kenneth began teaching elementary school in 1955 transitioning to secondary school to become a geography department head, a vice principal and a principal. He retired in 1989 to work as a full-time volunteer. As a key stakeholder of the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Habitat Council and the Giant’s Rib Discovery Centre, Ken has placed great emphasis on education. Ken was involved in the development of the Cootes Paradise Fishway, the Great Lakes first two-way fishway to prevent invasive species from entering Cootes. In the early 1990s, Kenneth was a primary leader in the formation of the Hamilton Bay Area Restoration Council and played a key role for 30 years with the Hamilton naturalist Club as their representative on the Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan.
Dr. Joan Heels
At the young age of 87, Joan has been actively involved in many local community projects and has inspired many to be engaged in our community. Joan has been a strong supporter of Rotary and demonstrates the Rotary Motto “Service Above Self” inspiring younger members to become involve in volunteer and service projects that benefit children and youth. In 2013 during the 100th Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Hamilton, Joan spearheaded an initiative to engage women in Rotary. To honour and celebrate the 100th anniversary, a Rotary Remembers Calendar was created featuring Women Leaders. These women leaders put together and created a calendar and then sold the calendars to fundraise funds to support local literacy projects like the Summer Literacy Camp that offers barrier free camp to over 1000 children each year.
Nancy has been an active volunteer for almost 40 years and held varying roles in eight different sport related organizations in the City of Hamilton. From 1981-2007 she was a past President, Treasurer, and Tournament organizer of many events including two National championships, and countless District and Provincial events for the Churchill Fields Lawn Bowling Club. She was an original member of the Sports Council (now Sport Hamilton) and involved with the Disabled Games, Senior Games, and the Grey Cup. She was also on the 1994 and 2000 hosting committees for the International Children’s Games and is a past Chairman for the City of Hamilton Sport Volunteer banquet. She has been on the Board of Directors for the CANUSA Games for over two decades
Latisha, or Tish for short, is a passionate volunteer and advocate for the LGBTQ2S+ youth community. She is involved in both HamOntYouth and acts as chair for the Rainbow Youth Collaborative. She participates in lots of events to support LGBTQ2S+ youth in the city and is a great mentor for younger LGBTQ2S+ youth. Tish works through some disabilities connected to a medical condition making her volunteerism even more impressive.
Nina is 80 years young this year. She immigrated to Canada from Italy and has lived in Hamilton since the age of 16. She has three children and nine grand children and two great grand children. She is an active volunteer community member at her church and in the community. She has volunteered for over 55 years.
Robin has demonstrated through advocacy and outstanding commitment to preservation of history in Hamilton Cemeteries for over 20 years. Robin’s efforts have assisted in the preservation of the history, memories and physical preservation of Hamilton Cemeteries and has been a dedicated volunteer. As a dedicated volunteer Robin conducts free walking tours each Saturday at Hamilton Cemetery. The Stories in the Stones historical walking tours help preserve the history and memories of those buried in the cemetery. The tours have well over 800 visitors each year, plus over 500 children & youth who participate in guided tours conducted by Robin.
Born in Jamaica, Evelyn moved to Hamilton from Windsor in 1989 and immediately embarked upon community building work in her new home. She continues to play a leadership role in social development, arts and culture with a strong focus on improving the wellbeing of newcomers, racialized Hamiltonians and women in the city. Evelyn has led the effort to successfully conduct Hamilton’s first women’s safety audit which resulted in the city’s adoption of policies and processes to improve designs to enhance women's safety in public spaces. She is a founding member of Elect more Women – Hamilton and worked for Status of Women Canada for two decades. She has conceptualized and co-founded the John C. Holland Awards- the region's premier Black History Month celebration.
Dr. Anne Pearson
Born in Ontario and raised in a diplomatic family, Anne spent her formative years in Paris, Mexico City, Ottawa and New Delhi. After graduating from the University of Toronto, she completed a Ph.D. (1993) in Religious Studies at McMaster University. From 1996-1998, she held a Heritage Canada post-doctoral fellowship while researching the Hindu diaspora within southern Ontario. Anne is the author of a dozen peer-reviewed scholarly publications. Between 1987 and 2016, Dr. Pearson worked first as a sessional instructor, and then an Assistant Professor at McMaster. Long-term dedication, perseverance, consistency, humility and the visionary perspective have characterized her voluntary engagements. Her leadership on interfaith issues was practiced in several contexts, including Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative, the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, the Hamilton Interfaith Peace Group and at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. She also played leadership roles in related peace activities, for example with the Gandhi Peace Festival, Culture of Peace Hamilton and the United Nations Association of Hamilton. After the torching of the Hindu temple on Sept. 15, 2001, she worked with Rev. Paddy Doran to create the poster "An Attack on One is an Attack on Us All". She was the Lead Animator on the Working Group of the Strengthening Hamilton Community Initiative for promoting interfaith and intercultural understanding and respect.
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