Our 2015 National Award Winners

Here are the Canada Cares Caregiver National Awards Winners for 2015…


PILLAR OF LOVE: Barbara Aris

Barbara’s husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2004 and has also been diagnosed with PTSD and associated anxiety and depression. Both of these conditions have made Barb dig deep for inner strength.

In caring for Mike, Barb has given up her career and convenience of city life to relocate to the country where he feels comfortable. She encourages him to keep active and organizes socialization opportunities for him to meet friends and attend support groups. To maintain Mike’s quality of life, they built a home in the country that accommodates his independence and comfort.

While caring for Mike, Barb has become a leader in the community and now serves as the Chairman of the Shore Drive Community Development Association. This past summer, with the assistance of the RCMP and Nova Scotia Health, she held a four-day workshop on Health and Safety for Seniors with numerous guest speakers from Tax Specialists and Revenue Canada.

According to Barb, in caring for a loved one, “We can’t change the wind but we can adjust the sails.” Barb continues to alleviate Mike’s suffering and that of others dealing with Parkinson’s

by supporting, listening and enlisting the help of professionals. Barb and Mike will be using the $10,000 One Wish award sponsored by CBI Health Group to install a generator to support their quality of life.


SUPERMOM: Chelsea Russell, Family Caregiver, Central Region

Chelsea is a firefighter who came into the lives of her step-children Lauren and Wyatt in March 2011. Both children were diagnosed with Hypotonic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. They have always been non-verbal and require the use of a wheelchair.

According to her nominator, Chelsea was immediately taken with the kids, learned to provide the care they needed “and always did so without hesitation.” This includes use of a feeding tube and suction machine, administration of medication, diapering, bathing, and proper wheelchair handling  for the children’s comfort and safety. Chelsea and her husband Kevin faced hardships when the children became extremely ill. Sadly, Lauren passed away in 2012 from complications of aspiration pneumonia, after which Chelsea vowed to do everything possible to maximize Wyatt’s quality of life and encourage him to feel capable of doing anything.

While facing ever-changing realities associated with Wyatt’s illness, Chelsea continues to plan fun activities for him and is always in search of new things to make his life more enjoyable.


A KNACK FOR CARING: Mary Lorraine Horlick, Professional Caregiver, Western Region

Mary has been providing care for young ladies with persistent and severe mental illness for the past three decades in Calgary, AB. Her personal residence has been transformed into a care home that accommodates up to six residents, all of whom have their own bedroom and share a common family room, kitchen and dining facilities.

She is a strong support to the residents, providing continuing care and flexibility towards their individual needs. Mary is instrumental in encouraging her residents to participate in programs within the community such as full day vocational rehabilitation activities, choir, and Stampede events. She has even taken a resident on vacation with her on several occasions.

According to her nominator, Mary’s number one priority is making a difference in the lives of her residents by providing a stable, nurturing, warm environment that contributes to their overall stability and happiness.


THE LOVING HUSBAND: John Smith, Family Caregiver, Western RegionSmith

John’s wife, Morna, collapsed from a ruptured aneurysm in late October 2002. Remarkably, Morna emerged from her coma but continues to struggle with the effects of an acquired brain injury.

John, a retired professional case manager for individuals affected by brain injuries, works tirelessly to care for his wife. His passion for caring for someone with an acquired brain injury comes naturally as he has selflessly dedicated years of voluntary service to individuals and their families affected by similar disorders. For the past 30 years he has taken on the cause of acquired brain injury in the province of British Columbia with a drive best expressed in his own words: “My passion is to help those with an acquired brain injury and their families.”

, Family Caregiver, Central Region

Heidi was a mere 25 years old when her husband, Veijo, had a car accident that left him brain damaged and eventually paralyzed in all his limbs. With three kids under the age of six and her husband in a wheelchair, Heidi took on the responsibility of raising her children while fighting to give her husband the best quality of life possible.

Whether standing up for her husband in the hospital or battling insurance companies, Heidi worked relentlessly to bring him home where he would be surrounded by family and friends and able to watch his children grow up. Under Heidi’s care and love, Veijo learned to speak again and perform simple tasks such as eating a banana. Her son acknowledges his mom is his “inspiration” for sacrificing everything to care for and stand by her husband.


THE SMILE MAKER: Helen Deyoung, Family Caregiver, Atlantic RegionDeYoung

Helen has been caring for her 85-year old mother, Hilda, since her father passed away thirteen years ago. Hilda suffers from heart disease and diabetes and requires assistance to complete daily tasks. Helen has dedicated her time to attend to her mother’s needs and accompanies her to doctor’s appointments, does the grocery shopping and ensures that bill payments are up to date.

Although Hilda maintains some independence by cooking small meals for herself, Helen will bring her mother home cooked meals to ensure she is getting proper nutrition. Helen suffers from osteoarthritis and has undergone two knees and a hip replacement. Nevertheless, she is extremely tough and prioritizes her mother’s care even though there are days when she struggles with her own pain.

Being involved in her community is also important to our winner. She knits winter hats and mitts for the homeless and every winter she donates clothes and food to the homeless shelter. Also, her golden Labrador has been certified as a Saint John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog. She takes the dog to visit schools, hospitals, and nursing homes in order to provide animal therapy to individuals suffering with physical and mental health issues.

Helen enjoys taking every opportunity she can to bring a smile on someone’s face.


CurwinTHE BENEVOLENT GIVER: Lillian Curwin, Professional Caregiver, Atlantic Region

Lillian is a PSW who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to care for and support her clients in their hour of need.

Caregiving is a vocation for Lillian, whose patient-centred approach is delivered with patience, laughter and resilience, inspiring confidence in both her clients and their families. Her nominator commends her for the respect she shows her clients and her willingness to meet their desires. Accordingly, she has spent unpaid time taking her clients to medical appointments, shopping and doing leisure activities that allows them to enjoy their life.

Lillian, who is now seventy years old, continues to work as a PSW at People’s Park Tower in Moncton, NB.


THE PRO CAREGIVER: Suzanne Beland, Professional Caregiver, Central RegionBeland

Suzanne is the Executive Director of Personal Choice Living/Choix Personnel Vie Autonome (PCIL/CPVA), providing care services to adults with physical disabilities and assisted living services for high-risk seniors. She works collaboratively with other health care professionals to deliver care with positivity, gentleness and direction that inspires confidence and hope in both her clients and their families. She attends to the emotional and physical needs of each client and brings her “personal touch” to caregiving.

In addition, Suzanne has developed two new key programs now benefiting a wide range of individuals throughout Ottawa. These are the French Language Services operating out of PCIL/CPVA’s Bronson Avenue site and the Assisted Living for seniors program operating across central and western Ottawa. Through her work, Suzanne demonstrates her deep commitment to ensuring individuals receiving care are able to maintain a quality of life and level of dignity that is above the standard of others affected by similar circumstances.


BibberINSPIRATIONAL VOICE: Geraldine Van Bibber, Professional Caregiver, Northern Region

After the Canadian Cancer Society closed its office in Whitehorse, Geraldine, with the assistance of a small dedicated group, laid the groundwork to establish the Yukoners Cancer Care Fund (YCCF), funded by the Yukon Hospital Foundation (YHF). As the founder and principal organizer of YCCF, Geraldine works diligently to provide assistance to individuals and families dealing with cancer. Several times during the year, Geraldine is on the local radio station and in news media promoting fundraisers and bringing awareness to those who may need its services. Through these promotions she has successfully brought together 14 individual communities across the Yukon to support the YCCF.

Today, Geraldine and her group of enthusiastic volunteers work with individuals, groups and the YHF to organize fund-raising events. During the events, she greets the public, takes donations, issues receipts and cleans up afterwards. Her thoughts and counsel are sought by individuals, community groups and members of government.

As of April 2015, Geraldine and her team have assisted 22 families, and the number keeps growing.


City of Dorval, Québec

The city of Dorval is exemplary in its support of local non-profit groups providing care and support to residents. For example, in 1997 the city gave up a portion of land to the Société d’habitation du Québec to build “Résidence Jules-Daigle” for low-income seniors.  Also, the city supports L’Équipe Enterprise, a company that provides assistance to individuals living with mental health problems, to improve their work skills and self-esteem. In addition, “A Wish” organization served those in the western end of the Island of Montréal and surrounding areas who suffer from arthritis and associated chronic pain. Lastly, “Friends for Mental Health” supports and educates families who have a loved one with mental illness. These organizations and many others supported by local government are recognized as “major contributors” to the Dorval community.


Yukon Hospital Foundation

The Yukon Hospital Foundation (YHF) administers the funds for Yukoners Cancer Care Fund (YCCF). The YHF administers six different funds, all at no expense to the individual trusts, and has helped YCCF support more than 22 families battling cancer. For over ten years, the YHF team has assisted people and groups wanting to host events, setting up trusts, gifts by will, RRSPs memorial donations.

The YCCF could not exist without the support of the foundation. Through their existence, the YHF motivates and educates individuals, businesses and organizations about the need for more and better caregiving for individuals and families in need of assistance. According to the nominator, without YHF, Yukon would not have some of the “best caregivers possible.”


Canada Cares Award 2015 – Honourable Mentions


Alice Chatelain, Ottawa, ON

Tracy Leparulo, Richmond Hill, ON

Heidi Tanninen, Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Elizabeth Killian, Saskatoon, SK

Bev Banda, Lloydminster, SK

Stacy Jackman, Tofield, AB



Steve Ludzik Centre for Parkinson’s Disease Team, St. Catharines, ON

Sylvia Haydt, Simcoe, ON

Debbie Wakelam, Strathmore, AB

Karen de Vries, Onoway, AB

Helen Monk, Timeberlea, NS

Michelle Burnett, Kingston, NS



The Community of Yukon, Whitehorse, YK



Long Sault Caregivers, Long Sault, ON

Friend2Friend Learning Society, New Westminster, BC


$10,000 One Wish

Suzanne Beland, Ottawa, ON

Cathy Fowler, Ottawa, ON


A very special thank you to our wonderful sponors!