All MNO citizen volunteers recognized
June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism
On April 10, Ontario recognized all Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen volunteers, both past and present, with the June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism.
The June Callwood Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism recognizes individuals and groups for superlative volunteer contributions to their communities and to the province of Ontario.
The award is named after the late June Callwood, a Canadian journalist, author and social activist. She committed her life to action on social justice issues, particularly those related to woman and children. She founded, or co-founded, more than 50 Canadian social action organizations. The award recognizes dedicated individuals and organizations who, like the late June Callwood, demonstrate exceptional leadership, creativity and innovation in their service to their communities and others.
Past recipients of this award have included organizations such as Victim Services of Algoma, North Bay Literacy Council, Hospice of Waterloo Region, Alvinston Community Group, The Hutton House Access Voluntarism Program, The Manitouwadge Cancer Assistance Group - Friends Who Care and The Leslieville Tree Project.
The award was presented at a ceremony in Toronto on April 10 where all MNO citizen volunteers were represented by MNO President Gary Lipinski, PCMNO Youth Representative Mitch Case and three past recipients of the MNO Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award. The recipients present were MNO Sudbury Métis Council President Richard Sarrazin, Region 7 PCMNO Councillor Pauline Saulnier and MNO Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Council Senator Brenda Powley. The MNO Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes individuals who volunteer with the MNO on a year round basis and who have done so for a number of years.
The June Callwood award was presented to MNO representatives by the Honourable Michael Coteau, the Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
“I am honoured and humbled to accept this award on behalf of the volunteers who founded the MNO and all our past and present citizens,” said MNO President Gary Lipinski. “MNO citizen volunteers are the heart and soul of the MNO. These hard-working individuals spend thousands of hours annually building and strengthening our Métis communities and it is through their continuous efforts that we are able to perform our important work. Volunteers are the backbone of the MNO!”
Senator Powley, who was the 2013 MNO Volunteer of the Year indicated that it was important that the award recognized all MNO citizen volunteers: “It’s not just one person,” she explained, “or just one community – it’s right across all the communities who put in the efforts. It’s nice to see that we are all being acknowledged for our work.”
The 2007 MNO Volunteer of the Year, MNO Sudbury Métis Council President Sarrazin stated that, “It is an awesome thing to come to this volunteer award [ceremony] and to represent all the MNO citizens who volunteer their time – it is what makes the MNO a big success.”
The MNO was nominated by John Graham, who has worked with the MNO in a number of projects. Graham has witnessed MNO’s outstanding voluntarism first-hand while working with the MNO in securing recognition of Métis rights surrounding healthy funding, developing of strategic plans, streamlining the MNO’s citizenship registry and while Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
“As 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the MNO,” wrote Graham in his nomination, “I felt it was an opportune time to recognize the dedicated volunteers who founded the MNO in 1993 and whose leadership continues to sustain the MNO today.”
Graham’s nomination recognized that in 20 years Métis in Ontario went from a forgotten people to a people with a strong voice. He explains how Métis went from situations where health and educational institutions were almost entirely unaware of their existence to a place where there is a growing awareness and many of these institutions now work actively with the MNO. Through the work of MNO volunteers, Métis rights have been affirmed and where once the Ontario government refused to recognize these rights, today the Ontario government has entered into numerous agreements based on Métis rights.
Graham noted that not only was the MNO founded through the sheer will of volunteers, but its past and current governance structure has been and remains based entirely of volunteers. This includes representation and participation for regions, communities, women, youth, seniors and veterans. Last year, members of these bodies contributed 5,280 hours volunteer hours to the MNO.
Past and present volunteers also dedicated countless hours to the advancement of Métis rights, specifically R v. Powley. As a result of their efforts, in 2003, the Supreme Court affirmed Métis harvest rights and in 2004 the MNO leveraged this momentous victory to negotiate the first Harvest Agreement in Canada.
“The MNO was founded by volunteers,” stated PCMNO Youth Representative Case, “it is where the MNO comes from and it’s our history but just as importantly; our future is based on volunteers as well. Our future is bright because we have so many people who are a part of making the dream and vision of the MNO a reality.”
Additionally, Graham noted that over the past year alone MNO volunteers contributed over 67,000 hours to enhance the well-being of Métis in Ontario with 52,000 hours volunteered by the MNO’s Chartered Community Councils, 1,080 by the Captains of the Hunt and 6,500 in healing and wellness services.
“I think it is very important that the MNO has received this award,” stated PCMNO Region 7 Councillor Saulnier, the 2010 MNO Volunteer of the Year, “as it helped make the Ontario government aware of all that MNO citizens are doing across Ontario and how strongly we support our culture.”
“MNO community council members volunteer thousands of hours every year. They play a crucial role in the fight for Métis rights, promoting Métis culture and traditions and fostering community empowerment and development,” stated President Lipinski. “We would not be where we are today without their endless commitment to the betterment of Métis in Ontario.”
Graham’s nomination was supported by letters of support from Mike Briggs, Manager of First Nations and Métis Relations with Bruce Power and Wendy Landry, Manager of First Nations, Métis and Municipal Affairs with Union Gas.
For more information about the June Callwood Award for Voluntarism visit http://www.citizenship.gov.on.ca/english/citizenship/honours/junecallwood.shtml
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