2016 Finalists & Recipients

2016 Recipients


OC Transpo introduced an innovative, customer-focused procurement process that allowed customers to be directly involved in shaping the design specifications of the new Para Transpo mini-bus fleet. The engagement plan was developed to offer multiple opportunities for Para Transpo customers and stakeholders to engage and participate. This wide range of consultation methods ensured that those customers and staff who were unable to attend sessions, or use online channels, could still provide input. Consultation participants provided their views on what they liked and disliked about the current Para Transpo mini-buses and how these challenges could be addressed with the new vehicles. Pre-qualified vendors were then invited to bring their mini-buses to a focus group of staff, customers and stakeholders for feedback. Further data was collected during the pilot phase when a few new vehicles were introduced to the fleet. Final adjustments were made to the specifications before moving forward with the purchase of the new fleet. OC Transpo’s innovative and inclusive approach to mini-bus procurement is a demonstration of their commitment to providing quality services to their diverse customer base.




Jaimie Klachan moved to Ottawa in 2009 to attend university.  In 2013 she got involved in the Ottawa Power Wheelchair Hockey League (OPWHL) and is currently their Board Secretary and Fundraising Director. As Fundraising Director, Jaimie is not just securing funds she is also bringing the community closer together by advocating for inclusion and educating people about para-sports. At university she was an assistant for the only para swimmer on the Carleton University swim team, and implemented a specialized swimming sponsorship program. In addition, Jaimie was employed for six years as a personal attendant at Carleton University and has continued this work off-campus for the last three years.



Phillip was an Assistant Policy Analyst with the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Office during the summer of 2014. In this role he helps to develop Ottawa University’s policy on academic accommodations for students living with disabilities. Through Phillip’s personal insights and winning personality, he has empowered others to have open, honest discussions that aided the team to gather a broad and inclusive set of perspectives that informed the policies. He helped the university move from accommodations to diversity and inclusion. Phillip’s influence has also extended into the wider Ottawa community through his role on the city’s Accessibility Advisory Committee where he has seen an ideological shift to inclusion. He is currently an Articling Student with Community Legal Services and anticipates being called to the Bar of Ontario in June 2017. One of the career paths Phillip is considering as a lawyer is a legal practice focused on promoting and protecting disability rights and inclusion.


Steven Muir


When Steven Muir moved to Ottawa he created and set up a Self-Advocacy Group through Ottawa-Carleton Association for People with Development Disabilities (OCAPDD). He believed that he and his peers needed a place to meet to promote education and create more awareness about important issues for adults with developmental disabilities. Steven took the lead to develop the Self-Advocates group’s mission statement, the election process and group rules. He also supported the group to develop a list of topics to explore and discuss, such as rights and responsibilities, healthy relationship and bullying. He is a proven advocate, determined to give people a place to voice their concerns, educating them about their rights and to speak up. His advocacy has benefitted the community through is participation on the city-wide Para-Transpo Committee where he championed access for those with intellectual disabilities.




Joe Johnson, a budding young artist who attends Sir Robert Borden High School, is a hard working, determined and talented young man.  Joe sees his disability as his own individual reality. He feels that every person who walks the earth has their own reality, trials and personal gifts that make them an individual. Joe shows his support for his community by donating his art for causes in which he believes. He is a valued member of his school community: a former member of the wrestling team and a current member of the anime club. By participating in an outdoor education program Joe is developing his leadership skills.





Jim Kyte’s career: first round National Hockey League (NHL) draft pick, NHL player for 13 years, restaurant franchise co-owner, newspaper columnist, noted motivational speaker and now Dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College. Each an impressive career feat and made all the more notable when you learn that Jim also has a profound hearing disability. Throughout his career, Jim has been very active in charitable causes, including co-founding the Canadian Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, and starting the Jim Kyte Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired. He is member and on the executive of the Ottawa Senators Alumni. Jim works to bring awareness to brain injuries and to reduce the stigma around them especially among athletes. He also helps professional hockey players transition to other careers.





Daniel Boyer is a tireless volunteer and community leader. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus who has taken on numerous roles over the years and is now Grand Knight for his council. Daniel was a member of the Optimist Club of Vanier, a volunteer at Notre-Dame Cathedral and was also a volunteer in the St-Louis Marie de Montfort parish for many years and now in St. Theresa’s Parish. He is the co-chair of the Connecting on Disability and Abuse (CODA) Coalition started by Crime Prevention of Ottawa and the City of Ottawa. He also serves on the Home Take Over committee and leads workshops on disability abuse. Daniel is an active member of the City of Ottawa Accessibility Advisory Committee, a volunteer with the Festival Franco-Ontarien and a past co-chair and member of Citizen Advocacy’s Consumer Advisory Committee and a former Citizen Advocacy board member.



With more than 20 years of experience as a certified teacher, Kevin Brown has worked tirelessly and creatively to strategize and to advocate for the rights of students and staff with disabilities – especially those with hidden and learning disabilities. Through Kevin’s willingness to share his experiences with his learning disability and his self-advocacy, he has been a tremendous role model and leader for students and staff, both with and without disabilities. As an employee representative on the District’s Accessibility Working Group for many years, Kevin has been actively involved in leading and promoting the district’s efforts to not only meet but exceed the legislated requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Kevin also co-founded the Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders and Allies Employee Resource Group (LDAD/HD&A) which has provided Ottawa Carleton School Board employees with disabilities expanded opportunities for personal, professional and leadership development. For the past four years, Kevin has been a member of the Education Committee for Reach Canada.


Marianne Hodgson



Marianne Hodgson as the Exceptional Inclusion Coordinator at St Joseph Catholic High School in Barrhaven, worked with students living with physical, emotional, behavioural and developmental disabilities. Marianne’s qualities; leadership, commitment, compassion, patience, collaboration, inclusiveness, advocacy, respect and understanding were noted by peers, administration, students and parents. She took the time to truly understand the students’ challenges and had the wisdom and patience to make a difference in their lives. Many exceptional students have been touched by her dedicated work as she has helped colleagues ensure that their programming for these students is meaningful, relevant and directed towards their personal goals. Marianne is now the Autism Consultant with the Ottawa Catholic School Board.


Adam Cutler



Adam Cutler has worked for Home Depot, for more than two years. His work ethic, attention for detail, determination to give great customer service and be an asset to his team demonstrate his approach to work. He has been recognised for these traits by the Home Depot management team on numerous occasions. He started work at the Gloucester Home Depot and moved onto the Baseline Road store much to the chagrin of the Gloucester store. His team members appreciate Adam’s attention to detail, work ethic, team work and communication style and note that he is not afraid to go the extra mile for a customer.


Barb McAdam



Barb McAdam has been a maintenance worker at Dovercourt Recreation Centre for nearly 20 years. She really takes pride in keeping the centre clean and neat, both inside and out. She is well-loved by both staff and customers. Such is Barb’s pride in her work and protectiveness of the facility she has been known to challenge bad behaviour she has witnessed in the park. She is also the first person to volunteer to help out at community events at the centre.





Matthew Silins has been employed by Thyme and Again for the last three years. He started working there when he was a student in the Bakery and Pastry Arts program at Algonquin College. Matthew’s dedication and commitment to his work as a dishwasher and bakery assistant is described as “outstanding”. He consistently strives to be the best employee he can be. He has a long-term goal to become a baker and he is continually improving his skills. Matthew is a true team player and always offers to help others complete their work.





Owners, Todd and Sandra Brown, have a long history of providing individuals with disabilities opportunities to work in their store, learn various skills and be contributing members of their community. They have brought awareness to the business and local community of the benefits of training and hiring people with disabilities, the positive impacts this has on the person and their families, the store staff and customers. The Browns have been true advocates and role models as business owners making their store an inclusive and welcoming environment for all. In addition, they were the first grocery store to develop and run baking classes for individuals with disabilities and they offer numerous co-op placements to students with physical and developmental disabilities from the local high school. A number of these students have gone on to be permanent employees at the store. The Browns have also supported Special Olympic athletes, events to raise funds for numerous causes, such as the Annual Motorcycle Ride for Autism and were willing participants on the employers’ panel at Citizen Advocacy’s 2015 Caregiver Retreat.


Home Depot - Baseline Road



Home Depot Baseline goes out of their way to promote accessibility and inclusion. They constantly support and recognize their associates’ strengths, thus helping all associates reach their full potential. Home Depot’s management and human resource team uses the tools and resources available to them when supporting an individual who may need an adaptation. The inclusion and support offered by the staff team is so strong that other staff do not realize that their team member has a special need.





Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme & Again Creative Catering and Take Home Food Shop, is a trendsetter in creating a progressive work environment in Ottawa’s food and catering industry. Since the company’s start-up in 1991, Sheila and her team have created an impressive catering company housing a take-home food shop, in-house bakery, and thriving eatery. Sheila, is very supportive of initiatives and supporting team members of all different abilities, focusing on accommodations that enable success and aid in their achievement of their personal career goals. Under Sheila’s leadership, Thyme and Again models the benefit of inclusion to both the business and local community through sharing information and talking to other business owners about the value of hiring those with different abilities.


Bachar Awneh



Bachar Awneh is a talented swimmer who is part of the Ottawa Special Olympics team. Amongst his many medal achievements are his gold medal in the 2012 Provincial Spring Games and his bronze medal in the 2014 Canadian Nationals. These would be remarkable achievements for any athlete but when you realize that Bachar only emigrated to Canada in 2006 knowing very little English or much about Canadian culture you can see how truly exceptional this is. As well as his prowess as a swimmer, Bachar is also an accomplished bowler. He is known for his commitment and dedication to training and competing.





Jim and Shana Perkins are the founders of the Capital City Condors. The Condors started in 2008 with just three players and over the years the team has grown to allow more than 100 children with special needs the opportunity to play hockey. Through their leadership and commitment, the Condors have participated in both the Bell Capital Cup and Hockey Night in Canada’s 4-on-4 ball hockey tournament. This was the first time a special needs team had the opportunity to attend and play in either of these events and they were great opportunities to increase the awareness of, and make a place for, Special Hockey in Ottawa. Another example of this is when Jim and Shana organize ‘friendship’ games for the Condors to play against ‘able’ body teams and attend away tournaments. The Capital City Condors also hosted the Special Hockey International 2015 Tournament here in Ottawa which was the largest ever special hockey tournament in the world with 74 teams and 3000+ participants! The Perkins have big dreams for the future of special needs sports. They are currently in the process of trying to build The Condors Nest, a new completely accessible hockey/sports arena as well as are busy meeting with and supporting other communities across Canada wishing to start special hockey programs of their own.






Elaina Martin founded Westfest 15 years ago. This event embodies inclusion and accessibility and it shows in every decision she makes. The volunteer team demonstrates this as it is an eclectic mixture of music lovers, seniors, persons with disabilities, the employed and the unemployed. The work shared between the volunteer team enhances their lives through connections with diverse music, people and community. Elaina believes everyone has a right to live up to their full potential and is deeply driven to use Westfest as a place to change lives, to provide a platform that ensures the invisible be seen, the misunderstood be understood and the silent be heard. For example, Elaina was determined to make Westfest fully accessible to wheelchair users. She called all over the city looking for different ideas to make the park accessible, introduced pathways made up of several hundreds of feet in rubberized mats and ensured there were accessible porta potties. She also set up a shaded viewing area of the stage along these pathways for visitors, particularly those in wheelchairs.

Ottawa Catholic School Board



Through its many schools the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) has offered individuals with disabilities a large variety of opportunities to volunteer with their youth and staff. Whether in the classroom or the libraries, individuals with disabilities have the chance to learn and develop skills they can transfer to the work force. These volunteers also become an integral part of the school community and find the experience of volunteering to be very fulfilling.


Avesta Alani



Avesta Alani is the co-chair of the CNIB’s National Youth Council. She is a tireless advocate of the youth perspective for the improvement of education and employment outcomes for blind and partially sighted youth, at both the local and national level. She models strong leadership and facilitates workshops for other youth to improve their leadership and advocacy skills. Avesta never loses sight of her goals and reaches out to mentors to help her navigate through any challenges. She gives back the help she receives by mentoring other youth and has been instrumental is developing the CNIB National Youth Council Youth Engagement Award. Avesta’s long-term vision is that improved education and employment opportunities will follow from enabling blind or partially sighted youth to increase their social and volunteer engagement.





Marina Gobraeil is only 17-years of age but she is already a strong self-advocate who has a passion for theatre. Her self-identified destiny is to be on stage and she is working hard to achieve that goal taking dance, vocal and acting lessons. Marina has shown great perseverance in the pursuit of her goals; she has changed her classes to reflect her passions, she is passionate about continually learning and improving and her drive and determination are moving her past many obstacles. Marina is fully integrated into her high school and learns and performs with other “average” students. Everyday she models what people with intellectual disabilities can do, insisting on being “one of the students” and refusing to be isolated or differentiated.


Melanie Glatzmayer



Melanie Glatzmayer is a presenter and advocate for acceptance and integration. Since 2010, Melanie and her brother, Tommy, have made over 80 presentations and distributed over 10,000 books. Melanie has been featured in 100 plus media interviews, been a guest speaker at conferences including We Day and has helped to lead numerous drum circles for students with and without disabilities. She has volunteered over 400 hours. Melanie is 16 years old and lives with a rare syndrome (100 known cases in Canada) which includes amongst other issues, developmental delays, hearing, vision and speech challenges.