Gilles Seguin - 2009 Weiler Award Recipient
From the day in 1975 that Gilles Séguin began working in the federal government's Department of Health and Welfare he has furnished a continual fountain of vital welfare statistics and program detail, not only to government decision makers but to those outside of government striving to improve the lives of low-income Canadians. In this role, he was also one of the first to develop meaningful and meticulous comparative provincial welfare program data. Gilles was widely regarded as the number one expert on provincial and territorial welfare rates and programs for over two decades before his retirement in 2003. If you wanted to know anything about provincial welfare programs you automatically called Gilles first, and he always answered his phone.
His interest and commitment in bringing this valuable information to public attention resulted in a year's secondment with the National Council of Welfare in 1996 where he helped produce Welfare Incomes and Another Look at Welfare Reform. The latter report contained more than 100 pages of information on Canadian welfare programs in the 1990s and became a major source book for decision makers and welfare reform advocates.
In 1997, while still in government, he pioneered the Canadian Social Research Links website and also a weekly newsletter featuring the latest social policy updates with direct links to more than 150 websites. His website has grown over the years to now include 55,000 links organized under 80 themes. The value and interest in his work is attested to by the 1,900 subscribers to the newsletter.
Gilles retired from the Government in 2003 but his deep and enduring belief in achieving social justice for all Canadians drives him to update the web site www.canadiansocialresearch.net at his own time and expense. In the words of one of his nominators. “this is just one guy who took upon himself to continue his work deep into his retirement years while resisting taking a cent from anyone to pursue his passion. The comparisons to Dick Weiler, never easily made, can be made with comfort and assurance“. It is this abiding and selfless commitment to see social justice through that makes Gilles a worthy recipient of the Weiler Award.
Marge Reitsma-Street - 2009 Weiler Award Recipient
Marge has been a catalyst for social change in the three cities where she has worked: Hamilton, Sudbury and currently Victoria. From her BSW from McMaster to her MSW at McGill, and her PhD in Social Work from the University of Toronto, Marge progressed not only up the teaching ladder but increasingly became a potent generator of community concern and action at the local level.
Dr. Reitsma-Street is a stellar and admired example of a professor who has not confined her teaching to the classroom, but taken her skills out to the community in an effective collaboration with local groups of equally concerned citizens. A hallmark of her work is to foster closer ties between the university and community in order to give marginalized groups a voice in the research and political process. Her success in using these collaborative methods put poverty on the public agenda in Sudbury.
In addition to her teaching duties she has served on various John Howard Society and Elizabeth Fry Society boards reflecting her interest in juvenile justice matters and children's mental health. She organized a Womens Housing Network in Sudbury and was an initiator of the Better Beginnings Better Futures pilot project that strives to research and put in place child services and family supports to better serve young children. In Victoria she was a leader in the Victoria anti-poverty coalition that employed local poverty data to highlight the need for social welfare policy change in BC, and is a member of the City of Victoria's Housing Advisory Committee. In addition to all this work, Marge has found time to be a visiting scholar in the U.K. and Australia and has written and published over 200 papers
In the words of one of her nominators Marge “has been a catalyst in collaborative efforts to document social concerns, put these concerns on the public agenda and work for change to make the world a better place”. These qualities are highly reminiscent of the work of Dick Weiler and makes her a very worthy recipient of the Weiler Award.
The Weiler Award
The Weiler Award is presented annually to acknowledge and honour exceptional contributions to community and social development in Canada.
The Award recognises outstanding dedication by individuals, groups or organisations to social development/social justice causes through co-operative linkages and collaboration among individuals, groups, agencies and organisations.
The individual, group or organisation honoured by this award is involved in social development as a catalyst for co-operation, social inclusiveness and creative response to social needs in both occupational and volunteer endeavours.
Dick Weiler (1942-1995)
Dick was a social advocate and humanitarian who devoted his life to making the world a better place. He helped lay the groundwork for social policies to promote national and community values in Canada.
Nominating a Candidate
Complete a nomination by:
provide a description in 300 words or less of the candidate's achievements, the nature and impact of the activities involved and the audiences reached;
prepare a one-page biography of the person or a short profile of the organisation or group; and
obtain three letters of support.
The nomination documents should be forwarded by March 15, 2009 to:
Weiler Award Trust – Attention:
Ms. Gweneth Gowanlock
1001-44 Emmerson Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K1Y 2L8
Past Winners of the Weiler Award
The Crime Prevention Committee of the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, 2008
The Committee works closely with social and community organizations to install “prevention” as the solid fourth pillar of criminal justice. To that end, the Committee was the organizing force behind the establishment of the Coalition on Community Safety, Health and Well-being and endeavours to bring together literacy groups, seniors’ organisations, public heath workers, educators, social workers, and those who develop policy and programs within government. The Committee has not only helped bridge the gap between law enforcement and social development; it is also helping connect social development groups on this issue.
Michael Goldberg, 2005
The recipient of the 2005 Weiler Award, Michael Goldberg, was honoured at an awards luncheon at the Twelfth Biennial Conference on Canadian Social Welfare Policy in June, 2005 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. See the press release: Vancouver children's advocate wins national award, as well as a transcript of Michael's acceptance speech.
Michael Goldberg has worked in the social development arena in the Vancouver area since 1970. He has worked in Neighbourhood Houses and for various levels of government, but is most well known for his work in SPARC BC (Social Planning and Research Council) for the last eighteen years.
Michael is particularly recognized for his work with First Call, a BC coalition of individuals and organizations whose purpose is to create greater understanding of and advocacy for legislation, policy, and practice to ensure that all children and youth have the opportunities and resources required to achieve their full potential and to participate in the challenges of creating a better society. By providing sustained leadership to the building of this broad-based coalition, he has been an enduring catalyst for extensive collaboration and cooperation.
Michael is committed to the concept of participative, community-based research. Thus, in conducting research, Michael always finds a way to ensure that the grass-roots perspective comes through. This was particularly evident in developing the Regional Homeless Plan Update, which involved numerous workshops and “kitchen table” focus groups throughout Greater Vancouver.
Michael is also known and respected for living his values. He believes that organizations should not compete with each other for resources and promotes collaborative service planning. Each community project Michael has worked with could identify a legacy from the experience, whether improved capacity, specific knowledge or skills, strong policy development, or just a positive experience with lots of humour.
Michael’s many talents go well beyond research and writing. He is widely known and respected in British Columbia for his many “people” skills, which are reflected in his effective public speaking, his incisive interviews in the print and electronic media, and his considerable skills in community consultation, facilitation, mediation and conciliation.
To quote from the nomination material, “As is the way in all the best community development work, his participation has not been particularly visible, and that is one of the hallmarks of his success”.
Mary Reid, 2003
Mary Reid has made an extensive contribution to the community of people with disabilities in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Early in her career, she facilitated the transition of an Independent Living Program in St. John's into a Resource Centre which is a hub of activity, interest and support for hundreds of people living in the community.
An innovator, Ms. Reid nurtures the strength of individuals and community and uses her extensive talents in coalition building to bring people to the table in a spirit of true respect. One of the significant initiatives Ms. Reid spearheaded was the development of the Housing Integration Project for persons with disabilities who require 24- hour attendant care and who wish to live independently. This housing development was officially opened in 1991 after eight years of hard work.
To quote from the nomination material, "Mary exemplifies all that is possible in a caring, inclusive community."
Howard Sapers, 2003
Howard Sapers has dedicated his life to crime prevention at the local, provincial and national levels. A dedicated volunteer, he developed positive relationships with community-based organizations and individuals across Canada. He encouraged them to develop cooperative strategies to reduce and prevent crime, and promoted awareness of innovative strategies such as community corrections and restorative justice.
Mr. Sapers was a member of the board of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association for 20 years, and president for two. He is also known for his work with the Youth Canada Association, the John Howard Society of Alberta, the Alberta Science Literacy Association, the Public Legal Education Network of Alberta, and the Association of Human Services in Alberta.
What those who worked with him remember most about Howard Sapers was his rigorous attention to detail, research and fact, which always played a more important role in his decisions than any previously held ideas or opinions.
Judge Linton John Smith, 2001
Considered by many as “The Father of Legal Aid,” Judge Linton John Smith has put his legal skills at the service of social development throughout his career. As Director of the Saskatoon Legal Assistance Clinic, then as a member of the Carter Commission which designed a legal assistance plan for Saskatchewan, Smith endeavoured to empower people who had become socially marginalized. He was named the first Provincial Director of the Saskatchewan Legal Aid Plan in 1974.
Smith maintained a fruitful relationship with the Canadian Council on Social Development for two decades. He was active on its Panel on Social Development and the Law, its Task Force on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its Board of Directors. He was president of the Council from 1989 to 1991.
Smith was appointed a Judge of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan in 1979. As such, he has taken a particularly strong interest in integrating Aboriginal traditions into the common law justice system. In 1993, he was the first judge to use a sentencing circle to resolve family problems in Aboriginal communities.
Dr William Hettenhausen, 2000
Dr. William Hettenhausen is a dentist with a difference: he offers his time and expertise to those who have never had the opportunity to enter his office. His promotion of preventive dental care has led to a substantial decrease in the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth among children in his home town of Thunder Bay.
Dr. Hettenhausen conducts his educational work through the foundation he established in 1978, called “Your Teeth for a Lifetime”. He has improved the preventive capacities of thousands of people by giving lectures and slide presentations to a wide range of health professionals, community groups and service organizations.
To address the particular concerns of Aboriginal communities, Dr. Hettenhausen worked with Health Canada to produce a dental health awareness video in Oji-Cree, entited Kiminoya Geepidum, Gichichandun Shawigenin (Healthy Teeth, Happy Smile). The video, which provides a broad range of tips on preventive care, was enthusiastically received by First Nations people.
The Centre for Literacy of Quebec, 2000
Founded in 1989, the Centre for Literacy of Quebec is committed to supporting and improving literacy practices in schools, community and workplace. It is dedicated to increasing public understanding of the changing definition of literacy in a complex society, and has taken an increasingly active role in health literacy.
Since 1995, the Centre has compiled resources on health literacy and effective patient education, and developed a collection on the topic. In consultation with the Nursing Library at The Montreal General Hospital, the Centre also created a Travelling Health, Communication and Literacy Resource (known as the trunk). Many discussion groups, workshops and seminars offered by the Centre have aimed at increasing awareness of literacy issues within the health sector. In September 1999, the Montreal General Hospital (MUHC) and the Centre for Literacy jointly announced the proposed creation of a Health Literacy Centre at the Montreal General Hospital.
David Lepofsky, 1998
David Lepofsky has successfully advocated for the rights of disabled people. He contributed significantly to the inclusion of disability in the Ontario Human Rights code, which provided the strongest protection for persons with disabilities in Canada at the time. Then, acting on behalf of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, he led a successful effort to have the term “handicap” included as a protected ground under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. During the consultations preceding the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords, Mr. Lepofsky worked effectively to defend the constitutional status of persons with disabilities.
Mr. Lepofsky has also been a teacher and public speaker on disability and human rights issues, and has successfully litigated human rights-related cases. He has effectively used legal and public advocacy, as well as creative community organization, to build confidence and skills within the community of people with disabilities.
Sister Peggy Butts, 1996
Sister Peggy Butts made an outstanding contribution to social justice in Nova Scotia. As a leader and tireless worker, she touched the lives of many in kitchens, church halls, conference centres, and board rooms.
Her extensive academic background included a BA in Philosophy, a Bachelor of Education, and an MA and PhD in Political Science. She taught for 18 years at the University of Cape Breton, where she spearheaded a program to help needy students find employment. She donated her salary to the poor.
Sister Peggy served on the provincial Task Force on the East Coast fishery, the Eastern Regional Heath Board of Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Roundtable on the Economy and Environment.
A year after winning the Weiler award, at the age of 73, Sister Peggy was appointed to the Senate. She lived in Ottawa during her two years as a Senator, and continued to donate her salary to the poor.
Dr. Paul Steinhauer, 1996
A noted child psychiatrist, Dr. Paul Steinhauer devoted his considerable knowledge and energy to furthering the quality of life for children. A Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and staff Psychiatrist at the Hospital for Sick Children, Dr. Steinhauer was the Founding President of the Canadian Academy of Child Psychiatry.
He chaired the Steering Committee of the Sparrow Lake Alliance, a voluntary coalition of community organisations interested in promoting healthy development, preventing psychiatric disorders, and providing mental health services for children. He also chaired Voices for Children, an alignment of 16 provincial organizations working on public education campaigns about children in Ontario.
Dr. Steinhauer pulled together different constituencies, often when nobody initially saw common cause. He had an untiring commitment and passion for social justice and development.
Canadian Council on Social Development,
190 O'Connor Street, Suite 100,
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2R3
Tel: (613) 236-8977, Fax: (613) 236-2750, Web: www.ccsd.ca, Email: email@example.com