Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley is continuing a tradition began by one of his predecessors, the late Marceil Saddy in 1988 to honour citizens and groups in the community or surrounding area who have been instrumental in improving the quality of life or making a significant contribution to the City of Sarnia and Lambton County.
Bradley, in a cover letter sent with the 2017 Honour List, quoted Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”
The mayor also repeated his introduction from previous years:
“The list, as always, is a highly personal list, based on my own observations throughout the year in the community, nominations from citizens and media stories. The list is a tribute to the unsung people and groups in the community who make a difference in trying to create a good and just community and society. It is living proof that individual citizens and groups can make a difference,” wrote Bradley.
This year’s list:
1. JAN ALLARDYCE
A dedicated and long-time member of the Sarnia Sports Hall of Fame. Jan works hard to preserve Sarnia Lambton’s illustrious sport’s history as one of the key organizers of the annual Sarnia Lambton Sports Hall of Fame dinner which every year is a tremendous success in recognizing those who have achieved success in the world of sports.
2. ASHES PROJECT – (Jaggi Singh, Tom Wolfe, Ashvin Thakkar, Raj Barchha)
For their ongoing efforts bringing forward the idea of the City of Sarnia designating a scattering location for the committal of remains. Through their hard work and dedication and the response and support of the citizens of Sarnia and people outside the community, their fundraising efforts resulted in over $24,000 being raised and an area on the point lands to become the designated area. Work will begin shortly on the building of a gazebo and benches at this location to mark the location where loved ones can gather.
3. PARDIS BAHA
Sarnia native Pardis Baha in 2010 created the Lambton Youth Jazz Orchestra. She is currently completing a Master’s degree in clinical anatomy from Western University.
It started off as a very small group but quickly gained members as she reached out to the high school music teachers around Lambton County, who continue to support her today. Rehearsals take place in the summer. Pardis recognizes she has students of many different skill levels and if a student is struggling to get through a difficult spot in their part, she will continue to offer alternative suggestions until the student can get the hang of it. She also offers to arrive at practice early, or to leave late, if someone feels they need extra help. This is quite notable considering she is a full-time student who commutes from London back to Sarnia to continue running this program. At the end of August, a free concert for the community is held at the Sarnia Public Library.
The program is an excellent opportunity for high school students to continue practicing over the summer in an environment where they can learn from an expert while forming friendships and a sense of belonging. Pardis has inspired many high schoolers to continue pursuing music, both professionally and as a hobby. This group is an amazing addition to the Sarnia community and would not be the success that it is today without Pardis’ talent, kindness, and diligence.
4. “BECAUSE I’M A GIRL” – Raveen Duggal, Diya Duggal, Ally Campbell, Amelia Glazier
This very special group of girls have worked hard to help others less fortunate than them, through Plan International Canada’s “Because I’m a Girl” initiative. For the past year, these girls—Raveena Duggal (age 10), Diya Duggal (age 7), Ally Campbell (age 10) and Amelia Glazier (age 11)—have organized and been actively involved in various fundraising activities. They did a presentation at their school (Cathcart) for the kids and the staff, followed by a launch party at their school, during which they sold baked goods, popcorn, and “mystery” bags. Raveena and Diya made over 200 “mystery” bags filled with their own donated toys. Raveena baked some of the goods for sale and sold handmade beauty items to the School Staff.
They followed up with an additional fundraiser selling handmade beauty products at their school, during a “movie” night for kids and their
parents. They also sold the beauty products during the MAC night event at Northern High School. The girls also presented to the members of the “Awesome Project” in a bid to help them raise additional funds. The girls penned a letter to Madame Trudeau, a well-known ambassador for Plan international Canada, inviting her to Sarnia as a guest speaker. Raveena and Diya co-ordinated a garage sale last October and over $300 was raised. For their efforts, the girls have so far raised close to $15,000 for Plan International Canada, and are actively working on raising more money.
5. ANDY BRANDT
For his ongoing support, dedication and commitment to Sarnia through many leadership, fundraising and community activities. Andy serves as Chair of the Lambton College Foundation and has led the Envision Tomorrow Campaign efforts to develop two new world-class facilities at Lambton College—the $30 million Nova Chemicals Health and Research Centre and the $12 million Athletics and Fitness Complex. Andy has been a pillar in building Sarnia Lambton.
6. MELISSA CHONG
Melissa, following up on an idea from her father, Bill Chong, put a request out to the community to help give the Canadian Armed Forces some Christmas support by having citizens sign and include a personal message on Christmas cards, depicting five local winter Sarnia scenes. Over 7,000 cards were printed and with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Legion the signed cards were gathered up and mailed to the members stationed overseas.
In early December Jeff Day, Deputy Commander, Joint Task Force – Ukraine, sent an email to Mayor’s Office, which read in part: “On behalf of Operation UNIFIER, the Task Force would like to thank the citizens of Sarnia for hundreds of Christmas Cards that we received. Last night, a group of approximately 50 Canadian soldiers deployed to Ukraine, gathered to open and read the cards. It was a pleasure to read and to watch the soldiers react to the well wishes and messages. It really felt like we were opening cards from friends and family, and it was a wonderful reminder of home. The cards, photos and artwork will be distributed and displayed around the Canadian Compound here at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv, Ukraine. The gesture is very appreciated by the members of the Task Force.”
Through Melissa’s efforts, Christmas for the Canadian Armed Forces felt a little closer to home.
7. PRISCILLA GAGNE
Priscilla won a gold medal at the Para-Panamerican Judo Championships held in the summer of 2017 in Sao Paolo, Brazil. This was Priscilla’s first gold medal in international competition. In 2015 she won a Silver Medal at the Para-Pan Am games in Toronto. Priscilla, who has retinitis pigmentosa, was born in Granby, Quebec and moved to Sarnia at a very young age. After attending King George School she attended two years at a high school for the blind in Brantford, returning to Sarnia to graduate from St. Patrick’s High School. She attended Bible College in Oklahoma and graduated with a diploma in addictions counseling and community services from Everest College in Barrie. She currently lives and trains full-time in Montreal.
8. ROY HARE
Mr. Hare, a Sarnia WWII Veteran, travelled to France in August to attend the 75th Anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. Mr. Hare travelled with a delegation representing the Essex Scottish, a regiment he joined in 1944 as an anti-tank gunner. Mr. Hare spent 57 days in a prisoner of war camp until being freed by the British Army. He came to Sarnia following the war where he married a girl he had met at Camp Ipperwash. He retired over 30 years ago as a plumber. In 2016 he was among Canadian veterans who received the National Order of the Legion of Honour from France. He has made several trips back to Europe over the years including a number to Holland for anniversaries of its liberation.
9. KERRY HORAN
Kerry goes above and beyond to make sure the veterans in the City of Sarnia are honoured at our Sarnia Sting Veterans Way games which are held every third Friday hockey game. Kerry is a strong advocate for veterans and volunteers his time throughout the area in military parades and with supporting and working with the Cadets.
10. TERRY MACDONALD
Terry Macdonald makes a difference on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis, always without accepting verbal recognition and routinely stating he just “loves” to do it. He routinely goes about helping everyone and anyone and especially those with animals (dogs). He is a 7-day-a-week volunteer at the Humane Society, volunteers on a weekly basis at Bluewater Health, volunteers at the Inn of the Good Shepherd and is an active member of All Saint’s Church. Terry relates to people the enjoyment he gets from his volunteer work like it is a dedicated mission of caring for Sarnia. He is infectious with his energy and positive outlook, which ultimately rubs off on people.
11. KEVIN MCHARG
Retired firefighter. For his dedication and commitment in helping with the research for the book written by Phil Egan, entitled “Walking Through Fire”. Kevin spent countless hours researching for the almost 300-page book as Research Assistant Advisor to Phil Egan. As Phil graciously noted in his author’s notes that he had the help of many people but the book would not have been possible “without his (Kevin’s) unflagging help and encouragement. For the earliest days of researching the book right up until the book went to press, Kevin was trying to find ways to improve the final product. The completed book is as much a product of Kevin’s tireless research as it is my writing.”
12. IAN MCLEAN
Mr. McLean, a local artist who paints with oil, has exhibited a number of solo and group exhibitions throughout Ontario including Sarnia, Toronto and in Kelowna, B.C. His paintings are hanging in private and corporate collections across Canada and in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia.
13. NOELLE’S GIFT
We do not remember Noelle by how she left us but by how she lived.
Noelle, a young school teacher, was surprised at the number of young children in her school who did not have the necessities that other children had each day. She began to bring extra lunches to the school, purchased shoes and school supplies for the children. She wanted to make all her students happy and to be able to participate in all of the school events. Following Noelle’s tragic death five years ago her family wanted to continue on with her efforts to help young people in the community. Noelle’s Gift was formed and the community began to donate to carry on Noelle’s work. Today three main fundraisers are held to support the charity—Noelle’s Gift of Fitness; Noelle’s Gift of Golf; and Light Up the Night for Noelle.
Other community events are held which also contribute funding. In five years $1 million has been raised to benefit organizations including St. Clair Catholic and Lambton Kent District School Boards to continue their Good Samaritan prograk for needy children; Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Huron House Boy’s Home, Children’s Aid Society, St. Clair Child and Youth to name a few. “From one of the darkest moments in Sarnia’s history emerged a shining light of hope and optimism called Noelle’s Gift. Students in need continue to receive the warm embrace of Noelle’s love.”
14. GERALDINE ROBERTSON
Geraldine, as a young girl in the 1940s, was one of many indigenous children in Canada who were removed from their homes and sent to residential schools. She spent one year at the United Church-run Mount Elgin near London but when the school was closed because of its rundown condition she returned home for one year. During this time her father passed away and her mother was sent to hospital, suffering from tuberculosis. Geraldine, at age 11, was shipped to Mohawk Institute in Brantford. During her three years in Mohawk, she felt like a prisoner, now being known by a number rather than her name and trying to get enough to eat. The worst was the suffering at the hands of the Principal and the strap. Later in her life, Geraldine began to speak publicly about the experiences in the residential schools and the effect it had on the children once living again with their parents. She became active in programs being offered by the Chippewas of Sarnia (Aamjiwnaang) working to improve parenting classes, baby wellness programmes and anti-violence workshops at Aamjiwnaang. Robertson travelled from Ontario to British Columbia for the United Church, relating her story and encouraging other survivors of the residential schools to talk about their experiences. Geraldine began researching names to be placed on a plaque honouring the 161 residential school survivors from Aamjiwnaang. The plaque was unveiled in 2017. Her work earned her an Order of Ontario nomination in 2017.
15. JOHN ROCHON
John has served this community as a historian who generously shares his knowledge. John has been an advocate for preserving Sarnia’s historical buildings using past photos to make the case for preservation. He has been a valuable resource to the Heritage Committee as he is responsible for the many historical photographs he has provided them for the education of our whole community.
16. JOHN ROZEMA
Mr. Rozema, a long-time resident of Sarnia, is very active in this community. He sits on the Sarnia Lambton Kent Goodwill Industries Board and is very involved in many other charitable organizations. He has provided this community with employment through his many businesses. His company has been long-standing in this area, providing many generations of continued income. Many of John’s employees’ children and grandchildren have received scholarships through his foundations which have enabled many young people to pursue their ambitions in the health care field.
17. JOE SALVATORE
Joe is an original member of the LACAC, now the Sarnia Heritage Committee, which was formed in 1983 by the late Mayor Marceil Saddy. He has quietly worked hard, often behind the scenes, and is a valued and respected member of the Heritage Committee. Joe has shown his commitment to Sarnia Heritage in downtown Sarnia by restoring and preserving a number of key buildings.
18. SARNIA BRAVES
The Sarnia Braves became the 2017 Southwestern Ontario Senior Baseball League Champions. Their record for the 2017 season was 39-3. The team, led by Team Manager James Grant, went on to win their third straight Michigan Cup. Twenty of the 23 team members made their way up through the Sarnia Braves minor baseball system.
19. SARNIA MINOR ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
The year 2017 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Sarnia Minor Athletic Association. This non-profit organization, operated entirely by volunteers, provides sports and activities to the youth in Sarnia and surrounding area. In 1947 volunteers working with youth in the community decided to combine their efforts and assist each other resulting in the formation of the SMAA. Over the years the type of sports came and went such as 5-pin bowling, football, girl’s fastball, hockey, soccer, and softball. In 2017 the operating budget for six sports plus concessions is $342,000 compared to $1,000 for six sports in 1947. Football has a new field to play on at Norm Perry Park and boy’s baseball has had a steady increase of players over the past decade. The SMAA has a dedicated group of volunteers and generous supporting sponsors.
20. ANN STIRLING (POSTHUMOUSLY)
Ann was a model, union organizer, chef, restaurant owner, and caterer, but to Sarnians she was known as a person dedicated to promoting the arts in the community. Ann was a co-founder and fundraiser of Art Walk and the very successful First Friday, Art Under Glass, and numerous other community events. She served as Executive Director of the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts and was a keen supporter of the efforts to revitalize downtown Sarnia. She encouraged young people to become involved in the arts in their city. She worked with Aamjiwnaang First Nation youth to participate in the arts. One of Ann’s most successful events in the arts community was producing “Crudementary Tales” a parody of Lambton County’s history that told the story of the heritage of the early oil industry and the drama of the lives now by highlighting the colourful stories of historical characters and their communities. The vibrant arts community we have today in Sarnia is due, in large part, to Ann’s creativity, dedication and her love for the arts and her hometown.
21. LEE ANN SYMINGTON
Lee Ann Symington started “Cat Chance,” a spay, neuter and return program that has got hundreds of stray cats off the street. The group also makes cat shelters for the cats during the winter months. Lee Ann is tireless in her pursuit and has had no Sarnia city support at all. She relies on donations, fundraising campaigns and has many volunteers that assist with the cats and with fundraising.
22. DAN WHITE
Dan, a high school teacher, retired at the end of the school year in 2017 after 29 years of teaching at SCITS. For 20 years he was the Director of the SCITS Revue and Alumni Revue. Each year the school’s drama students perform skits, songs and comedic numbers along with students from the school’s music department, English department, sports, shop and tech programs. With the completion of the 2017 shows, Dan had directed nearly 100 performances at SCITS when you take into account the plays, improvisation Shakespeare and dinner theatre in the cafeteria. Some years there were five productions a year to direct. Some students went on to careers in the entertainment industry whether it be acting, lighting or sound technicians. One participant described the SCITS Revue as a unique cultural event and something to which students could always look forward. The Alumni Revue in 2017 brought back former students from across North America returning to their alma mater to take part in the last shows with Dan as the Director.
23. NELLO ZEPPA
Mr. Zeppa, an Italian Immigrant (1962), who has never forgotten his roots. Nello continually, quietly, makes his way to helping those in need filling out an assortment of government forms for immigrants who do not know where to turn for help. Nello seems to be a common referral. Forms for WSIB, Pension, Unemployment and countless other municipal, provincial and federal forms. Nello was one of the main drivers for the development of the Serenity Garden at Marshall Gowland Manor. For over a decade he would personally sponsor a scholarship for a deserving student from St. Pat’s who was entering University.