Everyday community organizations and dedicated staff in Alberta ensure that vulnerable people and neighbourhoods are not left behind. Thank you to the Bhayana Family Foundation for enabling us to recognize these invisible champions and the work they do to make Alberta a better place. This year, we are proud to expand the awards to include all of Alberta through partnerships with United Way of the Alberta Capital Region, United Way Alberta Northwest, United Way of Central Alberta, United Way Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo, United Way of Lethbridge & South Western Alberta, United Way Lloydminster and District, CCVO, and Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations.

CCVO empowering nonprofits - logo
Edmonton Chamber of Voluntary Organizations
United Way Alberta Capital Region Logo
United Way Alberta Northwest Logo
United Way Central Alberta Logo
United Way Fort McMurrary and Wood Buffalo Logo
United Way Lloydminster & District Logo
United Way of Calgary and Area Logo
United Way Lethbridge & South Western Alberta logo

Whether creating partnerships to drive vital projects forward or using innovative leadership to inspire others, Albertans working in the non-profit sector are fostering social inclusion, advocating for mental health, and supporting those in need.

Congratulations to our 2022 Alberta Bhayana Awards recipients!

To recognize the value and efforts of non-profit staff in Alberta, we are proud to present these awards and celebrate those who dedicate themselves to improving our communities.

The Bhayana Family Foundation Awards are made possible by a generous donation from Raksha M. Bhayana and the Bhayana Family Foundation. As a former member of United Way Toronto’s Board of Trustees, Raksha is a dedicated community volunteer and a passionate champion for the recognition of staff who make a difference in the community every day.

A special thank you to Caitlynne Medrek, our enthusiastic emcee and UWCA Amabassador, the Cantillon Choir and Dr. Joel Christie for making this year’s event a great success.

Recipients were announced on October 26, 2022. Watch the first Alberta Bhayana Awards and relive the experience.

Partnership, Collaboration, & Connection Awards

This award recognizes organizations and individuals for unique efforts in creating partnerships and collaborating with other groups to expand impact in their community.

Jennifer McDonald–Robinson – Bissell Centre

  • Supporting individuals experiencing poverty with basic needs, cultural supports, and case management services in Edmonton for seven years.
  • Teaches new first responders how to engage with the unhoused successfully.
  • Collaborating with Boyle Street Community Services, The Mustard Seed, and George Spady Society, Jennifer facilitated the ‘Inner City Check-In App’ that allows for service providers to share key information and prevent people from falling through the cracks.

Library Staff – Banff

  • Developed an item lending program where residents can borrow a variety of items that may be “rarely used,” hard to store, or expensive like power tools or sewing machines. Designed to reduce waste, increase access to lifelong learning, and promote social connection.
  • Vital in a rural community where many residents are immigrants and there are few free recreational spaces.

Terri Anderson – Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre

  • Kept seniors connected throughout the pandemic by enhancing services offered by Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre.
  • Terri sits on a group of agencies in the Red Deer area that serve seniors and other marginalized individuals. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and uses that community connection to bring greater services to the seniors at Golden Circle.

Robyn Romano – Distress Centre Calgary

  • Under Robyn’s leadership, hundreds of non-urgent calls to Calgary 911 have been diverted away from requiring a police response as part of a call-diversion pilot program that began in February of 2022. 248 non-urgent calls for help to 911 were assessed and transferred to Distress Centre Calgary (211) to ensure the appropriate response was provided.
  • Police response to mental health and addictions are now served by professionals in that area to improve support and access.

Steve Bentley – Calgary Climate Hub

  • Steve spearheads Climate Hub events and organizes the ‘Hub and Spokes’ cycling event which focuses on shared experiences with cycling in Calgary and the need for improved infrastructure and rider education.
  • As the host of The Climate Lens podcast and A Climate of Change Facebook webcast, Steve produces approachable, entertaining content on climate action. Steve shines the spotlight on guests who are under-represented and creates connections that are vital in achieving climate justice for all.

Karin Henderson – Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK)

  • Karin leads the school lunch program at Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK), providing lunch for more than 5,000 kids each day in more than 220 schools, and engaging more than 400 volunteers working in 33 kitchens every week.
  • She created BB4CK Community Group University, engaging leadership volunteers in a half-day of learning around food preparation processes and food safety practices.
  • This year, Karin worked with The City of Calgary’s summer programing to deliver lunches to kids in need.

Indigenous Initiatives Team – Trellis Society

  • Coordinates Culture Camps with like-minded agencies who deliver Indigenous programming and land-based teachings.
  • The team works with Elders, the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary (AFCC), the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA) and Miskanawah, to support the program and help Indigenous youth reclaim their culture.

May Susan Platana – Meals on Wheels

  • Dedicated to meeting clients needs and using community connections to do so. Susan works with clients to set them up within the program, find volunteers, and create delivery routes.
  • During COVID-19, Susan rallied the community to donate Easter and Thanksgiving dinners to isolated clients when Meals on Wheels received high demand.

Callista Olivares – Frontier College

  • Last summer, Callista Oilvares led the Frontier College’s Summer Literacy camp and partnered with 21 Indigenous communities across Alberta by offering training, hybrid model camps, and 1,500 literacy kits. Over 700 children benefited as participants and recipients of over 5,000 high quality, culturally appropriate books.
  • She also facilitated training to local youth and adults to increase their leadership skills and literacy knowledge as camp counsellors.

Loretta Gillingham – Golden Circle Senior Resource Centre

  • By eagerly working with our staff, volunteers, service providers, and community organizations, Loretta connects seniors with needed information. Loretta is diligent and works tirelessly to ensure her clients promptly access the services they need to continue to live healthy, active lives, as best as they are able.

Facilitation Team – InceptionU

  • InceptionU is a Calgary non-profit designed to help people become future fit by acquiring the confidence, mindset, and skills needed for our rapidly changing digital economy. The Facilitation Team at InceptionU works hard to use their personal connections to reach learners and build a community where Calgarians grow in their careers!
  • They partner with Calgary Public Library, Platform Calgary, and are the Education Partner at Thin Air Labs. The team contributes to Community Now Magazine and the Leaders and Innovators podcast. They also work with Joy to Job to educate high school seniors, support Mindfuel, in providing financial assistance to learners who don’t qualify for government funding, and they delivered the Essential Skills series for the Women in Tech initiative through Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in collaboration with 321 Growth Academy.

The Way In Network Team – carya

  • Committed to advancing access to information and resources for older adults and improving the coordination of community-based senior services in Calgary by working with the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens Association, Calgary Seniors Resource Society, carya, and Jewish Family Services Calgary.
  • The Way In Network also works with Distress Centre Calgary to refer seniors to vital resources. And by working with other agencies, it also provides sector leadership to the Minister of Seniors Advisory Committee, Age-Friendly Calgary Steering Committee, Healthy Aging Alberta Community Leadership Committee, FCSS Policy Forum, and the Calgary Elder Abuse Awareness Collective.

Jimmy Morrison – Operation Friendship Seniors Society

  • When COVID-19 hit, and the Seniors Society drop-in centre had to close, Jimmy was determined to connect with everyone he could and stay in contact with displaced seniors.
  • Jimmy is actively involved with United Way of the Alberta Capital Region. He is the chair for their annual campaign, and a volunteer Community Impact Speaker, who goes out to other workplaces to share his story and that of the inner-city seniors he strives to support. Working with United Way, Jimmy looks for the best ways to financially support the Seniors Society.

Innovative Leadership Recipients

These leaders play an exceptional role in helping others contribute to their organization and advance its mission. They have introduced new approaches or contributed innovative solutions to their organizations.

Jennifer Morrison – InceptionU

  • Jennifer is the Lead Learning Designer and Strategist at InceptionU and a pivotal leader in designing and reshaping project-based learning. She works directly with industry experts to create an exceptional learning environment that is relevant and purposeful.
  • She brings an authentic and thoughtful approach to leadership, but equally a willingness to continually learn.

The Boreal Team – Trellis Society

  • The Boreal Team targets vulnerable youth experiencing housing instability within the social service sector and offers intensive support to youth, enabling them to make their own decisions while promoting healthy boundaries and habits.
  • The team also works with Trellis Society, community resource officers, the Police and Crisis Team, probation officers, Circle Keepers, and local businesses for employment opportunities.

Hannah Weir – The Family Centre

  • Hannah Weir works alongside the police and the City of Edmonton to get everyone in the community involved and create projects that continue to thrive after she has supported the community in its development.
  • Hannah created a food pantry service for the community where she works. She found a local church and got the Food Bank on board. Hannah encouraged community members that use the pantry to be the volunteers and ensure it continues to run without her. The Betel Pantry successfully runs weekly with line ups around the corner.

Chelsea Nergard – The Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women

  • Chelsea Nergard is the Empower U/Financial Literacy Facilitator at the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women where she teaches financial training through ATB to women who want to change their lives.
  • She leads the class through a cultural lens with Indigenous knowledge while understanding the challenges that Indigenous women face. She is passionate about fighting intergenerational trauma by empowering Indigenous women to take hold of their finances and pass financial literacy down to their children.

Nikki Houde – The Family Centre

  • As a Success Coach at the Family Centre in Edmonton, Nikki Houde supports schools and vulnerable youth through the All In for Youth program. She spearheaded a pedestrian bridge with the City of Edmonton to showcase her school’s artwork on a pedestrian bridge and highlight Indigenous artwork.
  • Nikki has also created partnerships so that the school can offer services from Hope City Church, Bennett Centre, the Neighborhood Empowerment Team, Amiskwaciy Academy, Spruce Avenue Community Leauge, Kingsway Business Association, and Kingsway McDonalds. Nikki wants students to know that there are adults in their lives that will support and guide them.

Will Kunyk and Ilene Fleming – United Way of Alberta Capital Region

    • As leaders of the United Way of Alberta Capital Region Leading Inclusivity Team for the past three years, and acting as co-chairs, Will Kunyk and Ilene Fleming address community issues and advocate for 2SLGBTQ+ communities, intersectionality, and Indigenous reconciliation.
    • While taking calculated risks in pursuit of continuous improvement, Will and Irene reached out to local partners, consultation programs, and local education centres. They have launched United Way into taking the lead on DEI work in the community, ensuring no one gets left behind.

Lena Awwad – Islamic Family & Social Services Association (IFSSA)

  • Lena kickstarted the Global Stitches Program which offers emerging artists skilled in sewing, embroidery, and textiles the opportunity to transform up-cycled fabrics into beautiful works of art for resale. To date, the program has empowered more than 25 women. Lena’s work has been recognized by the International Refugee Council in Geneva and the Canadian Refugee Council.
  • Lena also reimagined the IFSSA’s refugee sponsorship program by creating an online portal that educates the sponsor. This increased the amount of face-to-face time IFSSA could offer to those seeking services. Lena worked hard to make this portal easy for other sponsorship agencies to use and enabled them to scale their supports to refugees.

Thank you to all the recipients of the Alberta Bhayana Awards. We recognize and appreciate all you do to help Albertans and uplift our communities!

Alberta Bhayana Family Foundation Awards