Ottawa Italian Week Festival's Italo Tiezzi to be presented Caring Canadian Award by Governor General


His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, will present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to 26 volunteers from various sectors, onThursday, April 25, 2013, at 10:30 a.m., during a ceremony at Rideau Hall. This event is part of His Excellency’s program to highlight National Volunteer Week, from April 21 to 27, 2013.

Since National Volunteer Week in April 2012, the contributions of more than 250 volunteers from across the country have been recognized with the Caring Canadian Award. Discover these recipients and some of their stories at

About the Caring Canadian Award

Created in 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad. Often working behind the scenes, these individuals volunteer their time and efforts to help their fellow citizens. The award also brings to light the example set by volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are a part of our Canadian character.

The ceremony schedule, the list of recipients and their citations, as well as a fact sheet on the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award are attached.

Media wishing to cover this event are requested to confirm their attendance with the Rideau Hall Press Office, and must arrive at the Princess Anne entrance no later than 10:15 a.m. on the day of the ceremony.

Follow GGDavidJohnston and RideauHall on Facebook and Twitter.


10:30 a.m.: Ceremony begins
Remarks by the Governor General
Governor General presents the awards
11:30 a.m.: Ceremony ends
11:35 a.m.: Interviews with recipients


Joanne Beltrametti Westwold, B.C.
Daniel Benlolo Ottawa, Ont.
Justin Bessette Prévost, Que.
Wain Birch Regina, Sask.
Michel Côté Rockland, Ont.
Ross Findlater Whitehorse, Y.T.
Carolyn Francis Kensington, P.E.I.
Vera Gara Ottawa, Ont.
Florence M. Hannay Ottawa, Ont.
Roy Hysen Mississauga, Ont.
Jacques Laliberté Saint-Bruno, Que.
Rose Larouche Gatineau, Que.
Danielle Launière Calgary, Alta
Jean Guy Legault Montréal, Que.
Craig Richard Lester Barrie, Ont.
Michel Loiselle Saint-Boniface and Winnipeg, Man.
Gavin Lumsden Ottawa, Ont.
Jean-Guy Plourde Grand Falls, N.B.
Deborah Powers St. John’s, N.L.
Wesley Prankard Niagara Falls, Ont.
Ashleigh Quarrell Thunder Bay, Ont.
William Frank Stacey Ottawa, Ont.
Monique St-Laurent Gatineau, Que.
Peter J. Thompson Ottawa, Ont.
Italo Tiezzi Ottawa, Ont.
Olwyn Walter Halifax, N.S.


Joanne Beltrametti

Westwold, British Columbia

Farmer Joanne Beltrametti is committed to instilling animal husbandry skills and a love of farming in the next generation. Through the Pritchard 4-H Club, she helps youth gain self-confidence while teaching them to care for their own animals and raise quality livestock. She puts in long hours, both on the road travelling between farms, and behind the scenes, planning field training and preparing for judged events. She is also known in the broader community for her unflagging energy and her pride in a job well done.

Daniel Benlolo

Ottawa, Ontario

Eleven years ago, Daniel Benlolo founded the Tamir Neshama Choir as a way for developmentally challenged adults of all faiths to express themselves through song and dance. Under his leadership, the choir has performed across Canada and in Israel. Mr. Benlolo is a cantor at the Beth Shalom synagogue, and shares his time and vocal talents with Jewish and interfaith communities in Ottawa.

Justin Bessette

Prévost, Quebec

At eight years of age, Justin Bessette became a spokesperson for Héma-Québec. Living with an illness that requires frequent blood transfusions, he has raised public awareness of the importance of giving blood, inspiring numerous others to do the same. He has also helped to improve theSainte-Justine University Hospital Centre waiting room through his fundraising efforts.

Wain Birch

Regina, Saskatchewan

As a young man, Wain Birch taught in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Saskatchewan. When he returned to his home province after a career in banking, he applied his grassroots values to community service. As executive director of the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation for nearly 12 years, he has helped to build regional and national partnerships with the aim of mobilizing sustained support for local charities.

Michel Côté

Rockland, Ontario

For over 30 years, Michel Côté has been volunteering in his community. He is a founding member of the Rockland Housing Corporation, which advocates for seniors and persons with a disability. He is also an active member of the Knights of Columbus, the Royal Canadian Legion and the Optimist Club, and he supports several community and sport activities in his region.

Ross Findlater

Whitehorse, Yukon

Ross Findlater has worked tirelessly in support of those affected by poverty, mental illness or homelessness. He has been a major force behind the creation of several charitable organizations in Yukon, notably the Whitehorse United Way, the Yukon Volunteer Bureau and the Whitehorse Community Gardens. On a personal level, he is known as someone people can turn to when they need help.

Carolyn Francis

Kensington, Prince Edward Island

Carolyn Francis is committed to connecting her province with people in developing countries. As an educator, she has been closely involved in exchanges between Canada and Uganda that help girls stay in school, as well as a twinning program that links schools in Kenya with those in Prince Edward Island. She also served on the board of the Kensington Recreational Association and CampAbegweit.

Vera Gara

Ottawa, Ontario

For 30 years, Vera Gara has spoken with students and adults about her experiences as a Holocaust survivor. She courageously retells her story to remind her audiences of the value of our civic and human rights. She was also instrumental in the establishment of the Raoul Wallenberg Park, in Ottawa, and has volunteered at the Ottawa Hospital for many years.

Florence M. Hannay

Ottawa, Ontario

Florence Hannay believes that one person can make a difference. Now almost 92 years of age, she helps the homeless and the marginalized through such organizations as the Royal Ottawa hospital, the Red Cross, and The Well/La Source, a day program and drop-in centre for disadvantaged women. Over the years, Mrs. Hannay has touched the lives of countless people at their darkest moments, offering them comfort and support.

Roy Hysen

Mississauga, Ontario

Roy Hysen has been a leader and role model in the deaf community for more than 27 years. He founded the Canadian Hearing Impaired Hockey Association in 1983, which is now called the Canadian Deaf Ice Hockey Federation (CDIHF). He has dedicated himself to the CDIHF and to deaf ice hockey at the international level, serving in such roles as executive team director of the 2013 Canada Deaf National Hockey Team.

Jacques Laliberté

Saint-Bruno, Quebec

Jacques Laliberté is the president and one of the founding members of the Association québécoisede la douleur chronique. Under his leadership, this association has become a respected support organization for people suffering from chronic pain, helping to improve their lives and reduce their isolation.

Rose Larouche

Gatineau, Quebec

Rose Larouche, nicknamed “Madame Toutou,” gives of her time and talent to benefit her community. She works hard throughout the year with a view to bringing smiles to children’s faces during the holiday season. She touches up, refreshes, repairs and washes the stuffed animals she collects, knowing that children need a bit of softness in their lives. Over the past 15 years, she has retouched over 2 000 stuffed animals, which were then handed out by Santa Claus, through theSoupière de l’Amitié de Gatineau.

Danielle Launière

Calgary, Alberta

For over 33 years, Danielle Launière has been a volunteer within Calgary’s Francophone community. Her contributions have centred primarily on the Paroisse Sainte-Famille, the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta, Régionale de Calgary, the Société de théâtre de Calgary, and the Société franco-canadienne de Calgary. In addition, she helped to develop a school program, and to establish a French-language television channel and newspaper in Calgary.

Jean Guy Legault

Montréal, Quebec

For over five decades, Jean Guy Legault has been a member of committees focused on education, the arts and the economic development of the Montréal area. He has volunteered for a number of organizations, including the Université de Montréal’s Fondation Édouard-Montpetit and theKiwanis Club’s national committee on the prevention of abuse in early childhood.

Craig Richard Lester

Barrie, Ontario

Firefighter Craig Lester, a volunteer well versed in disaster assistance and emergency response, founded GlobalFire to provide training and tools to third-world firefighters. Through this organization, Canadians travel to developing countries to teach life-saving skills, safety measures and the proper use of firefighting equipment.

Michel Loiselle

Saint-Boniface and Winnipeg, Manitoba

In 1993, Michel Loiselle founded the Compagnie de La Vérendrye, a historic re-enactment society dedicated to commemorating the story of Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Vérendrye, and his explorations of the Canadian prairies in the mid-18th century. The organization also promotes French-Canadian heritage, in part through its involvement in Manitoba’s school programs and in community activities, such as the annual clean-up of La Vérendrye Park.

Gavin Lumsden

Ottawa, Ontario

A marathoner who has run a race for every letter of the alphabet, Gavin Lumsden is dedicated to promoting health and wellness in the community, particularly among disadvantaged youth. He founded Walk this Way, a program designed for inactive and overweight children to help them train for and participate in the annual Ottawa Race Weekend. Thanks to Mr. Lumsden’s guidance and support, hundreds of children have gained the self-confidence and pride that comes from achieving their goals.

Jean-Guy Plourde

Grand Falls, New Brunswick

A retired teacher and French-language, genealogy and history buff, Jean-Guy Plourde has researched and helped to write over 600 biographies of soldiers. For several years, he has been compiling information on military history, directly helping to preserve the cultural heritage of his community and region.

Deborah Powers

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

For more than 40 years, Debbie Powers has been dedicated to the protection of animals in her province. Her volunteer work as a special constable and then executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was like a full-time job. She made sure that every animal received the best care possible, giving unstintingly of her time and resources to this cause.

Wesley Prankard

Niagara Falls, Ontario

When Wesley Prankard learned that the children of Attawapiskat did not have a safe place to play, he decided to take action. He mobilized his community through fundraising and outreach, and theAttawapiskat playground was completed three years later, on his 13th birthday. First Nations communities in the James Bay area credit him with bringing them more than just playgrounds-he brought hope and happiness to children and adults alike.

Ashleigh Quarrell

Thunder Bay, Ontario

Ashleigh Quarrell started volunteering at a young age, serving as a counsellor and fund raiser for eight years at Camp Quality. The camp provides an outdoor wilderness experience for young cancer survivors, terminally ill children and their families. Long after the end of each season, Ms. Quarrel would continue to provide support and ongoing friendship to her campers. She also volunteers with the Special Olympics, and organizes fundraising events to benefit such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay.

William Frank Stacey

Ottawa, Ontario

William Stacey has long been involved in the civic, religious and sporting life of his community. He is a proud supporter of the Cumberland Heritage Museum, the Cumberland Fire Department, the Emergency Youth Housing program, and the Navan Curling Club, as well as his church. A veteran, he is also an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion and Scouts Canada.

Monique St-Laurent

Gatineau, Quebec

Monique St-Laurent is a leading figure in recreational sport in the Outaouais. She has donated her time to a host of organizations, including the Gatineau Olympiques hockey club and the GatineauVikings football team. She helps disaster victims in the Outaouais and sits on the board of directors for an organization that assists low-income individuals who are losing their independence. During the holiday season, she collects toys for underprivileged children through the Association despompiers et pompières de Gatineau.

Peter J. Thompson

Ottawa, Ontario

A retired RCMP officer who survived an aggressive form of cancer, and a long-time volunteer on the Canadian Cancer Society’s board of directors, Peter Thompson has raised funds for research through the Society’s Relay for Life campaign. He shares his story at Cops for Cancer events to give hope and courage to patients and families affected by the illness.

Italo Tiezzi

Ottawa, Ontario

For over 50 years, Italo Tiezzi has been at the heart of his Italian-Canadian community. He helped found and lead the Dante Alighieri Society of Ottawa, in support of Italian culture. He was president of an Italian business association and a key figure in the success of Ottawa’s Italian Week festival. He has also been engaged in the wider community, as a founder of the Ottawa Junior Humane Society, a supporter of the Ottawa University Heart Institute and a director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

Olwyn Walter

Halifax, Nova Scotia

In 2006, while serving as the vice-chair of the board of directors of the Children’s Bridge Foundation, Olwyn Walter heard the story of a nine-year-old boy from Vietnam who was suffering from a life-threatening facial tumour. Mrs. Walter opened her home to the boy so he could receive treatments in North America. Over the two-and-a-half years he stayed with her family, Mrs. Walter worked tirelessly to raise funds for his medical expenses, support his education, and accompany him during his 26 medical treatments. Now 16, and back in Vietnam, the boy is healthy and happy, thanks in great part to her efforts.


When the Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc became Governor General of Canada, he was determined to thank the thousands of caring people who give so much to their fellow citizens-the unsung heroes who volunteer their time, their efforts and a great deal of their lives to helping others, and who ask for nothing in return. In 1995, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was created.

The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter and more caring nation. The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of our Canadian character.

Eligibility criteria

The award recognizes living Canadians and permanent residents who have made a significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to their community, in Canada or abroad.

Nomination process

Nominations can be made directly through the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. They will be received by the Chancellery of Honours and reviewed by the advisory committee which will make recommendations to the governor general. There is no deadline for submissions. Nominations are accepted throughout the year.

If you know a friend, neighbour or member of your community who deserves this unique award, please share their stories by completing a nomination form at

Description of the award

The award’s emblem represents Canadians who selflessly give of their time and energy to others. The maple leaf symbolizes the people of Canada and their spirit; the heart depicts the open-heartedness of volunteers; and the outstretched hand portrays boundless generosity. The blue and gold colours, which appear on the viceregal flag, indicate the award’s connection with the governor general.

The Caring Canadian Award consists of a certificate and a lapel pin presented to recipients by the governor general or by lieutenant governors, territorial commissioners, mayors or partner organizations. Where this is impossible or if a recipient requests an early presentation for personal reasons, the award will be sent by mail.