• Mayor’s City Builder Award – Madat Kara

    Mayor Jim Watson, with Orléans Ward Councillor Bob Monette, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Madat Kara for his tireless volunteer work and outstanding contributions to the community as a Meals on Wheels volunteer and fundraiser.

    In January 1998, during the Eastern Ontario ice storm, when Madat heard that some elderly and convalescing people would not be receiving their daily meals due to the weather, he contacted Meals on Wheels and offered to help and he has a regular route delivering meals every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. ever since.

    Meals on Wheels is a non-profit organization, serving meals at minimal cost to the elderly or those who are disabled or convalescing. Each meal is nutritionally complete and the service helps them to remain independent and healthy in their own homes. The Meals on Wheels delivery also provides a daily visit by a volunteer to each client giving them an opportunity for social interaction with a caring visitor.

    Madat soon realized that there weren’t enough government subsidies to fund Meals on Wheels so he took on a fundraising role, organizing several large-scale functions which have contributed greatly to the program. His first event was a silent auction and a dinner dance, raising $13,000.

    Over the past few years, Madat and his team have hosted many events, including a golf tournament, boat cruises, hockey games, Elvis Gala night dinners and dances and other fundraising activities. In 2010, the team raised $5,000 and Madat contributed more than 500 volunteer hours, completing a lifetime total of 4,000 volunteer hours. The team was recognized by Meals on Wheels for being the first to organize large-scale events contributing to the success of the program.

    Madat is a model to others and inspires many with his perseverance, creativity and graciousness. He has received many awards and recognitions and, as a result of his fundraising, Meals on Wheels has been able to maintain its fees at a reasonable level and keep the meals highly accessible to all. This is important because a large percentage of clients are living on a fixed income.

    The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created by Mayor Watson to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.

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  • Council approves action plan for arts, heritage and culture

    Ottawa – Today City Council approved a six-year action plan for arts, heritage and culture. The renewed plan builds on Ottawa’s strengths, reflects its unique and authentic identity, aims to build pride in Ottawa as a vibrant, cultural city, and sets out a path aimed at leveraging opportunity.

    “Arts, culture and heritage are about remembering where we come from, celebrating who we are today and dreaming about what we can be tomorrow,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “These will continue to be the keys to our success, especially as we prepare to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.”


    “The renewal process brought together the strongest diversity of representation and participation ever for municipal cultural planning purposes in Ottawa,” said Councillor Mark Taylor, Chair of the Community and Protective Services Committee. “The plan will close cultural gaps, meet emerging needs and continue to improve cultural investment in the City of Ottawa.”

    The plan includes four strategies:

     – Celebrate Ottawa’s unique cultural identity and provide access to culture for all

     – Preserve and develop cultural and creative places and spaces

     – Get the word out about Ottawa’s vibrant local culture and unique identity

     – Invest in local culture and build cultural leadership

    The process brought together First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and communities, representatives of the Anglophone and Francophone cultural mosaic, diverse citizenry from rural, suburban and urban neighbourhoods, new Canadians and arts, heritage, festival and fair representatives.

    A recent economic study reported that Ottawa-Gatineau’s cultural industry (non-profit and for-profit) represented approximately 4.1 per cent of GDP, totalling $1.98 billion. In 2010, attendance and participation in local cultural activity totalled 4.1 million, and 21,861 volunteers provided 519,755 volunteer hours (valued at $9.1 million) to the local cultural sector.

  • Mayor’s City Builder Award – Jeremy Dias

    Mayor Jim Watson, with Somerset Ward Councillor Diane Holmes, today presented the Mayor’s City Builder Award to Jeremy Dias for his tireless volunteer work and outstanding contributions to the community.

    As a youth, Jeremy was motivated by social and political inequality to take action, volunteering with numerous organizations and charities. In high school in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, he started and led various clubs, including Stop Racism and Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving. He also founded and coordinated Sault Ste. Marie’s first regional LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and questioning) youth group.

    After coming out in high school, Jeremy faced discrimination by students and school officials. He experienced daily bullying, violence and other forms of assault by students and teachers. At 17, he began a legal case against his school and school board and at 21 won Canada’s second largest human rights settlement.

    Now at the University of Ottawa, Jeremy used the settlement proceeds to found Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative and its annual event, the International Day of Pink, where students come to school wearing pink to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic bullying. The event was so successful in 2010 that more than 7.2 million people wore pink.

    Jeremy worked as board chair of Jer’s Vision and now as a volunteer director manages finances and is actively engaged in programming, workshops and day-to-day operations. Under his direction, Jer’s Vision began as a small youth charity managing a scholarship and speaker’s bureau. Their work in Canada was unique as they were one of a few organizations whose anti-homophobic and transphobic bullying work focused on straight people and working to turn bullies and bystanders into allies.

    Within five years, the small organization became Canada’s third largest LGBT organization working across the country and internationally doing workshops and presentations. Volunteers pick up where presenters leave off and continue to mentor youth, teachers and schools to create safer and more respectful spaces.

    The workshops and presentations reach more than 75,000 people and the organization has a budget of $92,000. Jeremy’s ability to turn a negative school experience into something that helps thousands of people every day and to mobilize volunteers, engage politicians and celebrities is remarkable.

    In addition to his work at Jer’s Vision, Jeremy continues to volunteer with a number of organizations including, Housing Help, the Canadian Human Rights Monument and the International Imperial Court.

    The Mayor’s City Builder Award is a civic honour created by Mayor Watson to recognize an individual, group or organization that has, through outstanding volunteerism or exemplary action, demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to making our city a better place today and for the future. This may include lifelong service, outstanding acts of kindness, inspiring charitable work, community building or other exemplary achievements. Individuals, groups or organizations may be nominated by members of City Council or the public. The award is presented at the beginning of each City Council meeting.

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