Human Resources and Social Development Canada

Human Resources and Social Development Canada

April 30, 2008 13:00 ET

The Government of Canada Honours 2008 Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award Recipients During National Volunteer Week

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 30, 2008) - The Honourable Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, today honoured Ms. Elizabeth Grandbois of Burlington, Ontario, and Dr. Kwang Yang of Surrey, British Columbia, as the recipients of the 2008 Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award at the National Arts Centre.

Each year, in recognition of the importance of volunteerism, the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award honours two outstanding individuals for their contribution to their communities. Therese Casgrain was the founder and president of the Quebec League of Women's Rights and helped Quebec women gain the right of vote in 1940.

"The Government of Canada values the contributions that volunteers make to create safer and healthier communities," said Minister Solberg. "It is through the efforts of people like Ms. Grandbois and Dr. Yang that we can aspire to a more vibrant, stronger and better Canada."

Ms. Grandbois, living with amyotrophic lateral scleroris (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, has increased awareness of the disease and raised funds for ALS patients through Elizabeth's Concert of Hope. She has helped to raise over $2.5 million for ALS research and support services. She is the recipient of numerous municipal and provincial awards and received the Governor General's Meritorious Service Medal in 2004.

Over the last 26 years, Dr. Kwang Yang has made an important volunteer contribution to the multicultural communities of Canada, particularly those of British Columbia. He played a crucial role in the successful translation and implementation of Canadian Diabetes Association programs for the Chinese Canadian community. He is the founder and president of a number of associations, including the B.C. Hepatitis B Society, the Canadian Health Awareness Society and the Pacific Chinese Culture Society of Canada. His tireless efforts led to the provincial adoption of extended immunizations to cover more groups, including new immigrants.

Each year, the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award is presented to one man and one woman who have contributed significantly to the advancement of a social cause and the well-being of their fellow Canadians. Recipients receive a bronze medallion bearing the likeness of Therese Casgrain, a lapel pin and a certificate of recognition. In addition, a registered Canadian charity of their choice receives a $5,000 grant. This year's recipients chose the ALS Society of Canada and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

To learn more about the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award, visit www.hrsdc.gc.ca.

This news release and backgrounder are available in alternative formats upon request. Call 1-800-788-8282 on a touch-tone phone or a teletypewriter (TTY).

BACKGROUNDER

- 2008 Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award -

About the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award

Therese Casgrain, a native of Montreal, was the force behind various social reforms promoting justice and equality. She was involved in provincial, national and international organizations and was one of the pioneers of the women's rights movement in Canada. The Award, originally established in 1982, was re-launched in 2001, the International Year of the Volunteer, in her honour to recognize and celebrate the achievements of dedicated volunteers.

The Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award is presented annually to two Canadians, one man and one woman, who have contributed significantly to the advancement of a social cause and the well-being of their fellow Canadians.

The award consists of:

- a bronze medallion bearing the likeness of Therese Casgrain;

- a lapel pin and a certificate of recognition; and

- $5,000 to be awarded to a registered Canadian charity designated by the recipient.

The Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award is open to all Canadian citizens, with the exception of members of the Therese F. Casgrain Foundation, elected officials of government while serving in office, past recipients of the award and employees of Human Resources and Social Development Canada. Nominees may be sponsored by an organization or three individuals.

To find out more about the Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award, please visit www.hrsdc.gc.ca.

The 2008 Therese Casgrain Volunteer Award Recipients

Elizabeth Grandbois

In 1997, at age 45, Elizabeth Grandbois was a registered nurse, wife and mother. She had a busy, but perhaps not extraordinary, schedule of volunteer activities. That year, her life was radically changed as she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a rapidly progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease. The disease afflicts approximately 3,000 Canadians, and there is no effective treatment or cure. The average life expectancy for a person living with ALS is two to five years. Elizabeth is one of only 10 percent of people with ALS to survive more than 10 years post-diagnosis.

The Burlington Ontario resident established Elizabeth's Concert of Hope in 2001 to raise money for ALS patients and to raise awareness of the disease. It was her hope that increasing the profile of ALS could lead to more funding for research and eventually a cure.

At the time, Elizabeth had no ties with the arts community. All she had was determination and a love of music. She wrote hundreds of letters asking for support. Despite her inexperience as a public speaker, she began giving talks at public events. As a result, she garnered widespread support for the concept of a fundraising concert. Her spirited determination attracted performers such as Susan Aglukark, Michael Burgess, Dan Hill, and Quartetto Gelato to the concerts.

Elizabeth's Concert of Hope ended with a national tour in 2007. The tour traveled to Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Regina, Ottawa, Halifax, Summerside, and Corner Brook. Each concert reflected the musical culture of the region, and Elizabeth was present at every performance. The tour was sponsored by Tim Hortons, Via Rail and BBDO Canada, with support from Great West Life, Scotiabank, Petro-Canada and Bell Canada. In just six years, she helped to raise over $2.5 million for ALS research and support services.

Elizabeth was the subject of many documentaries, including a one-hour documentary on her life that has been screened in schools, hospitals and community centres across Canada. She is the recipient of numerous municipal and provincial awards and received the Governor General's Meritorious Service Medal in 2004.

Kwang Yang

Over the last 26 years, Dr. Kwang Yang has made an important volunteer contribution to the multicultural communities of Canada, particularly those of British Columbia. He is the founder and president of a number of associations, including the B.C. Hepatitis B Society, the Canadian Health Awareness Society and the Pacific Chinese Culture Society of Canada. In addition, he has served as president of the Chinese Canadian Medical Society and the Chinese Mental Wellness Association of Canada.

Dr. Yang began volunteering for the Canadian Diabetes Association in 1999, forming the first Chinese diabetes education classes in the province of British Columbia. He helped the organization develop the Chinese Language Diabetes Information Line which provides information and referral services on diabetes throughout Canada. Dr. Yang's volunteer efforts have been crucial to the successful translation and implementation of the organization's programs in the Chinese community. He has contributed to the translation and adaptation of literature; his materials are widely used in diabetes education centres, hospitals, clinics and communities in Canada. Dr. Yang volunteered to translate into Chinese and adapt a key Canadian Diabetes Association program. His leadership enabled the organization to train volunteers to present on diabetes prevention and management. Dr. Yang is a passionate spokesperson for the Association, promoting diabetes awareness and prevention to his fellow doctors, the media and the public.

Dr. Yang also played a crucial role in the expansion of the Hepatitis B vaccination program in British Columbia. Prior to January 2001, children and students were excluded from the free inoculation program. His persistence and tireless effort led to the provincial adoption of extended immunizations to cover more groups, including new immigrants. His involvement with the Chinese Canadian community is also noteworthy. Many Chinese Canadians who suffer from mental illness are often reluctant to seek help because of language problems and cultural barriers. Dr. Yang helped pioneer a training program for support group leaders, helping them to effectively serve individuals with mental illness.

Contact Information

  • Human Resources and Social Development Canada
    Media Relations Office
    819-994-5559
    or
    Office of Minister Solberg
    Pema Lhalungpa
    Press Secretary
    819-994-2482