Premier’s Council 2013 Award Winners
Neil Pierce (Edmonton) – Gary McPherson Leadership Award
For nearly 30 years, Neil Pierce has worked passionately on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Prior to moving to Alberta, Neil worked with Worker’s Compensation Boards in Ontario and the Northwest Territories. Upon arrival in Alberta, Neil began working with the Canadian Paraplegic Association (CPA), where he met Gary McPherson. They soon became friends and participated on many boards together, including CPA and Alberta Paraplegic Foundation.
In 2010, Neil was the recipient of the Canadian Paraplegic Association’s the Honorable Lois Hole Community Development Award for his outstanding work with people with disabilities. While at the CPA, he was recognized by the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers’ Association with a social justice award.
Neil co-served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association (Alberta) and the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation for over twelve years. He was instrumental in the development of numerous programs that continue to benefit those with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities, including a Calgary cross-disability employment service, Champions Career Centre and the Alberta Disabilities Forum.
For the past nine years, Neil has served as the President of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Alberta. More recently, he assumed an expanded national role as Vice-President of Government Relations and Volunteer Engagement. During his time at the MS Society, he was instrumental in the development of the MS Community Advisory Council and was part of a team that established the Alberta endMS Regional Research and Training Centre (RRTC). Neil’s efforts to improve the quality of life for all people with disabilities have been demonstrated throughout his career. Albertans with disabilities have and will continue to benefit from the leadership Neil has shown in the disability field.
Emily Hutcheon (Calgary) – Marlin Styner Achievement Award
Emily Hutcheon is a graduate student in the Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies program at the University of Calgary. Her current thesis focuses on the ways in which individuals across the ability spectrum think about, talk about, and experience resilience and vulnerability.
In 2011 and 2012, she served on the board of the Canadian Disability Studies Association as their student representative and voting member. Through her involvement in several community organizations, including Citizens for Social Justice (a student collective), the Center for Community Engaged Learning at the University of Calgary, and the Calgary Center for Global Community, Emily is cultivating her own style of quiet leadership and partnership.
She is interested in social change and grassroots organizing, and continues to develop her sensibilities as an activist, critical thinker, and engaged citizen. Emily envisions communities characterized by authentic connection across human difference. In her spare time, she listens to live music, rides her trike, and writes poetry.
Russell Christian (La Crete) – Award of Excellence in Public Awareness
Russell Christian has lived in La Crete Continuing Care since 2003, after he sustained a C4 spinal cord injury in 2002. Wanting to improve the transportation issues experienced by persons with disabilities trying to access their communities in the North, Russell helped initiate the Northern Wheels in Action group. Their goal was to speak out about the transportation barriers for persons with disabilities.
This year marked the second annual Wheel-a-thon, in which Russell, accompanied by other individuals who use power wheelchairs and community members on bikes, travelled 50 km to raise awareness of the transportation issues in Northern Alberta communities. Through this event, Russell is working to raise enough funds to purchase an accessible bus for the residents of La Crete.
Russell has made a huge impact on the communities in Northern Alberta by advocating, educating and promoting activities like the Annual Wheel-a-thon.
ATCO Structures & Logistics (Calgary) – Award of Excellence in Employment
ATCO Structures & Logistics is committed to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in their work environment. Management at ATCO Structures & Logistics routinely asks themselves, “how can we make our workplace culture more inclusive of persons with disabilities, and what is my role?” Not only do they recruit candidates from disability employment organizations in Calgary, they also initiated a training session with new hires to educate all employees about diversity within their organization.
ATCO Structures & Logistics also realized they did not have a policy to support persons with disabilities who may need some form of accommodation in the workplace, and have since created one that aligns with their current principles and objectives as a company.
They attend conferences and forums to learn about workplace inclusion and recruitment strategies for people with disabilities.
ATCO Structures & Logistics has demonstrated leadership by promoting the inclusion of more employees with disabilities, reducing barriers and implementing inclusive strategies for all employees.
Worley Parsons (Edmonton) – Award of Excellence in Employment
Worley Parsons is a leading provider of project delivery and consulting services to the resource and energy sectors. This global company considers the diversity of their employees to be one of their greatest strengths.
Worley Parsons recently wrapped up a year-long pilot program to increase awareness about diversity and inclusion and encourage employees to incorporate inclusiveness into their everyday business.
As a result of feedback from their employees, Worley Parsons made improvements to many of their facilities that went above and beyond code requirements. They volunteered to go through an Accessibility Audit with the Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities to assess the accessibility of 10 of their Edmonton locations. Worley Parsons believes in continuous improvement and strives to have a lasting, positive impact on their employees.
Taisa McRorie (Edmonton) – Award of Excellence in Education
Taisa has been breaking down stereotypes and teaching about the values of inclusion since play-school. Her dream is one where every student is responsibly and authentically included in school, and where people who live with a disability have the same opportunities as every other student.
She is currently attending the music program at Grant MacEwan University. Taisa has sent a message of inclusion throughout her educational experience with Edmonton Public Schools.
Taisa is a strong, award-winning leader who happens to live with a disability. In June, Taisa also received a Leadership Award from the Edmonton Persons with Developmental disabilities (PDD) Community Board.
Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured’s Community Integration Program team (Calgary) – Award of Excellence in Community
Since 2002, the Community Integration Program (CIP) team, with the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured (ARBI), has been helping survivors of severe brain injury, including stroke, to reintegrate into their communities. In the last year, the CIP team enabled 59 brain injury survivors to access their communities safely.
As part of recovery, returning to the community provides people with the opportunity to increase independence, gain leisure skills, and develop new leisure interests. CIP provides barrier-free leisure opportunities by providing support or adaptations as necessary to help people recovering from brain injury participate in everyday life.
This enables survivors to engage in meaningful activities such as art classes, gardening, volunteering, and fitness to improve their self-esteem, sense of broader community and overall quality of life. Survivors significantly increased access to their communities after completing this ARBI program.