Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer Award
The objective of the Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award is to recognize Individuals who contribute as a volunteer to the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) year round and have done so for a number of years. Each year a volunteer meeting the criteria is named as the recipient of the Suzanne-Rochon Volunteer of the Year by a selection committee of the Métis Nation of Ontario.
The 2013 Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year was presented to Senator Brenda Powley. Past winners of the award have included:
Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, Richard Sarrazin, Senator Reta Gordon, Louise Goulding, Pauline Saulnier, Senator Gordon Calder, Senator Marlene Greenwood and Senator Olivine Tiedema.
Senator Powley was nominated by several MNO citizens who outlined the reasons they believed she should be selected as this year’s Volunteer of the Year.
“Senator Powley has served the Métis Nation tirelessly for the past two decades as a community member, organizer and Senator since the mid 2000s,” stated one of the nominators. “Brenda has volunteered thousands of hours to our community, helping organize feast, dances, information sessions, AGMs and has represented this community and the MNO as a whole on numerous committees and boards.”
Over the years, Senator Powley has made significant contributions to the Métis Nation.
“The Senator is present at every community council meeting, council or staff support event from set up until clean up, always the first to volunteer to do the work that needs to be done,” explained one of the nominators. “She worked tirelessly to support her husband and other community members in the establishment of the Sault Ste. Marie Métis Council and in the opening of the Sault Métis Centre.”
Senator Powley also dedicates much of her time with youth and to sharing and teaching Métis culture and history.
“Brenda is wholly committed to ensuring that our distinct Métis Way of Life is passed on to future generations of young, healthy Métis people,” said one of the nominators. “Under the auspices of the Sault Métis Dance Club, Brenda and Anne [Trudel] visited almost every school in the district to do presentations on Métis history, culture and dance; helping Métis children to understand their history as well as First Nations and non-Aboriginal children with an opportunity to understand who the Métis are.”
One of the nominators stated that she “played a very big role in getting me involved as a youth in the MNO.”
Much of Senator Powley’s life has been dedicated to the betterment of the Métis Nation. “Brenda works as the matriarch of a very strong active Métis family, supporting her husband Steve and son Roddy along with the Métis Nation of Ontario in the ten year battle to secure our Métis hunting rights,” said a nominator.
Nominations for the Volunteer of the Year Award required a written letter, limited to 1,000 words, describing why the nominee should be selected.
“Brenda could never be replaced in our community and without her, our Métis community would not be the same…With only 1000 words it is difficult to express the achievements and dedication of this incredible Métis woman,” concluded one of the nominators.
The award was presented by MNO President Gary Lipinski at the 20th Anniversary Feast, Dinner Theatre and Dance during the 2013 MNO Annual General Assembly in Ottawa. Senator Powley was thrilled and shocked to receive the award.
“It was kind of a funny moment because I really didn’t see it coming. I had actually nominated someone else,” said Senator Powley. “It is very nice to be honoured with this award; there are so many hard working people who deserve it. Everyone does so much for the Métis community. It is hard to pick one person because we work together; it’s just who we are.”
The individuals nominated must exemplify the kind of volunteer contribution demonstrated by Suzanne Rochon-Burnett. They will have given generously of their time and effort, are strong advocates of the Métis Nation and their record of selfless commitment has been firmly established. They are seen as caring, giving individuals who others look up to and admire. The candidates will have provided an extended period of service as a volunteer.
About Dr. Suzanne Rochon-Burnett
Dr. Suzanne Rochon-Burnett was a founding member of the Métis Nation of Ontario. Named to the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, Suzanne was a member of the Canada Council and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Brock University where she served on the Board of Trustees. She was a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation and the first woman inducted into the Aboriginal Business Hall of Fame. Suzanne passed away in 2006. To honour her memory and recognize her outstanding service as a volunteer, in 2006, the Métis Nation of Ontario named Suzanne as the first recipient of the inaugural Volunteer of the Year Award which now bears her name.