Eight exceptional Albertans will be inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2021.
“Our honourees have abundant strengths that have served our province well. These include great perseverance, a selfless commitment to giving back, and a steadfast focus on sharing their unique gifts and abilities in a way that enriches us all. I offer my heartfelt thanks to each of them for their remarkable contributions.”
“All of the recipients show a remarkable talent for innovative creativity in their fields. Whether in business, research, education or community building, their leadership has made all of our lives better, safer and richer. I congratulate this year’s inductees on their many accomplishments, proving brilliant ideas shine brighter when courage and collaboration stand together.”
The Alberta Order of Excellence recognizes Albertans who have made an outstanding provincial, national or international impact. It is the highest honour a citizen can receive as an official part of the Canadian Honours System. The new additions will bring the total membership of the Alberta Order of Excellence to 197.
The Alberta Order of Excellence members being invested in 2021 are:
- Joan Donald of Red Deer has enriched the social and economic health of her community by bringing governance and leadership to boardrooms of organizations that range from business, health and education to social justice, sport and culture.
- Cyril Kay of Edmonton is among the world’s eminent biochemists, unlocking the building blocks of life. His vision to create and lead internationally respected multidisciplinary teams has revolutionized biomedical research.
- Murray McCann of Calgary is an entrepreneur and community leader who reinvests his success into organizations that combat hunger, homelessness, fear and violence. He created programs that honour fallen soldiers and support homeless veterans.
- Barb Olson of Calgary is an internationally recognized researcher, entrepreneur and toxicology expert. Her research with husband Merle in veterinary medicine has led to a better understanding of bacterial infections and treatment in humans and animals.
- Merle Olson of Calgary is an internationally renowned veterinarian and researcher. His entrepreneurism with wife Barb has led to innovative biotech and pharmaceutical companies specializing in veterinary products to address animal welfare issues.
- Greg Powell of Calgary is a pioneering emergency physician, innovator and educator. He has saved countless lives by co-founding and leading the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) and revolutionizing emergency medicine.
- Cor Van Raay of Lethbridge has strengthened both agriculture and agribusiness in Western Canada through his innovation and entrepreneurship. His generosity and community building have enriched the lives of Albertans.
- Lena Heavy Shields-Russell (Ikkináínihki) of the Blood Reserve is an Elder, author, teacher and trailblazing translator. She created Alberta’s Blackfoot curriculum, safeguarding the language and culture to pass on to future generations.
Full biographies and official portraits of new members, and information about the program, are available at alberta.ca/AOE.
“All through my life I have believed in helping out people in need and giving back to the community. I love to quote Maya Angelou: ‘You shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
Joan Donald is a Red Deer community leader, volunteer and mentor. She has enriched the social and economic health of her community by bringing governance and leadership to the boardrooms of organizations that range from business, health and education, to social justice, sport and culture.
Joan May Schultz was born on May 29, 1935, in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and grew up on a farm near Millet as one of 11 children. Living on a farm meant there was always work to do, whether it was hauling water and wood into the house or bringing lunch to the men working in the field. “We came home from school and went right to work on our chores. We learned about being good neighbours. At harvest time, if our family finished first, we were there to help our neighbours,” she says.
Joan attended a one-room country school until Grade 9, when she moved with her parents and younger sister to Edmonton. While attending Garneau High School, she met Jack Donald (AOE 2015), her future husband. The couple married in 1955. After graduation, Joan worked at the Royal Bank of Canada, taking business classes in the evening. She worked hard at the bank, but soon realized she could work just as hard for herself. Partners in life, she and Jack decided to become partners in business, venturing into the service station business in 1957 in Edmonton.
In 1964, Joan and Jack moved to Red Deer to raise their children Kathy and John, reasoning that the smaller city would provide more opportunities for their young family. They marked their move by co-founding a new business, Parkland Oil Products Ltd. They expanded the business from a fledgling single gas station in Red Deer to 38 service station outlets across central Alberta before selling Parkland Oil in 1971.
Five years later, Joan and Jack again ventured into business together, buying a public company, Parkland Industries Ltd., the corporation behind the well-known Fas Gas service stations. “We have been a great team over the years. He’s the business mind and I’m the people person. We complement each other,” she says.
Joan served as Parkland’s Assistant Corporate Secretary from 1977 until her retirement in 2001, working in public and investor relations, annual meetings, all board planning, and serving on the board of directors for 28 years. By the time she retired, the company, now called Parkland Fuel Corp., had its own refinery and 454 retail service stations in Western and Northern Canada. She continues to serve as Vice- President of Parkland Properties Ltd., their personal investment and real estate company in Red Deer. Joan also served a four-year term on the Board of Directors of the Alberta Energy Company Ltd. (now EnCanada Corp./Ovintiv Inc.).
Many of Joan’s greatest contributions have been outside the corporate world. She began volunteering as soon as the family moved to Red Deer and has continued to do so for more than 50 years. She has repeatedly galvanized the community and volunteer teams, leading a multitude of community fundraising campaigns, while encouraging others to join her in giving their time and financial support.
In the early 1970s, she began organizing horse shows for Westerner Park, a role she enjoyed for the next two decades. Her interest in horses led to more volunteer work with the Quarter Horse Association of Alberta and the Waskasoo Handicapped Riding Association. Joan went on to serve four years on the board of directors – which governs Westerner Park, Red Deer’s events centre – and eight years on the executive team, including two as president. She has worked tirelessly with the board to introduce sound governance processes and, also as a shareholder for over 40 years, she has participated in or chaired many of the organization’s major committees. In 2007, Joan and Jack donated a substantial gift to assist in building a new Westerner administration building.
Joan was instrumental in starting the Festival of Trees in Red Deer in 1994. Under her guidance, the festival grew from a relatively small fundraiser to become the premiere community charitable event in the city, raising funds for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Foundation. Each year, she and the volunteers focused on growing the festival by adding new events and activities. Joan’s continued involvement, at leadership levels and now as a major donor, together with her unfailing enthusiasm, have been key reasons for the Festival of Trees’ success.
As long-time volunteers, Joan and Jack are both proud to support Red Deer College, now Red Deer Polytechnic. Joan has served on the Board of Governors and as honorary chair of the highly successful capital campaigns. Joan and Jack have also been major personal donors to Red Deer Polytechnic for many years, as have their companies.
In 2007, they generously supported the college’s expansion plan, a gesture that resulted in the college’s business faculty being named the Donald School of Business. This honoured more than their philanthropy and support of lifelong learning. It gives tribute to the entrepreneurialism and keen business sense it took to grow a single gas station into what has become Canada’s largest independent fuel marketer and distributor.
Another of their more sizable gifts to the college was for the Donald Health & Wellness Centre, which is dedicated to teaching and learning in the fields of health and wellness. They also contributed a significant gift for the new Library Information Common. Combined with previous leadership investments, they are the college’s largest philanthropic donors.
“We have continued to invest in Red Deer Polytechnic, because we believe in empowering local learners to give them the opportunities they need to be successful in their careers and lives. Our communities are strengthened tremendously with the high-quality individuals who are bettering themselves in their time on campus, and beyond,” says Joan.
She has volunteered on many other non-profit boards and fundraising campaigns, including her tireless work on the Board of Directors of STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service) and on two STARS capital campaigns, the second to acquire two new higher-capacity helicopters.
Over the years, Joan and Jack have donated substantial gifts and time to a number of non-profit community groups, including Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, Red Deer Hospice Society, United Way Central Alberta, and JA (Junior Achievement) Southern Alberta. She consistently “puts her money where her mouth is,” supporting the same organizations she has asked others to support.
While many people may write a cheque for a good cause, Joan realizes that fewer will become campaign leaders. That’s where she feels her legacy is. She has an enduring track record of starting organizations on the right foot with strong principles, plans and practices, then staying on to cultivate future leaders. She has mentored many community members, guiding fellow volunteers on how to best put together a fundraising team, how to lay out their goals and plans very clearly, and share what is expected of their team members to reach those goals.
Joan also invested in young people to cultivate future leaders for Alberta and Canada, developing a unique program with the Red Deer School Board. At Lindsay Thurber High School, she supported the Minerva Club for girls in Grade 9, where they examined careers in math, sciences and non-traditional areas.
Joan has received numerous awards over the years, including Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002, Red Deer Citizen of the Year in 2004, Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and the Senate Canada 150 Medal in 2017. She and Jack have received the G.H. Dawe Memorial Award for philanthropic contributions to Red Deer Polytechnic for dedicated service to education in 2000, and the Philanthropic Family–Generosity of Spirit Award from the Calgary Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2005. In 2008, the Red Deer and District Community Foundation presented Joan with a Women of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2015, she received the Festival of Trees Friends Award for her lifetime of significant contributions. In 2011, Joan was made a Member of the Order of Canada for her lifetime of distinguished community service.
Joan continues to actively volunteer and will continue to, as long as she sees a need. She and Jack have five married grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, with whom they spend as much time as they can when they’re not wintering at their home in San Diego, California.
Post-secondary schools must report on free speech efforts on campus, minister says
Edmonton – The Alberta government says it will require post-secondary institutions to report annually on their efforts to protect free speech on campus.
A news release from the Department of Advanced Education does not detail exactly what must be included in these reports, or say what the consequences would be if the requirements are not met.
Minister Demetrios Nicolaides signalled changes were coming earlier this week after the University of Lethbridge reversed its decision to host a speech by a former Mount Royal University professor whose comments on residential schools have drawn fierce criticism.
Frances Widdowson was fired from Mount Royal in late 2021 after she spoke of the educational benefits of residential schools while questioning whether abuses at the institutions amounted to cultural genocide.
Widdowson’s campus speech this week was to centre on concerns that a mob mentality and “woke policies” increasingly threaten academic freedom.
The Alberta government says the latest move builds on its earlier work in 2019, when it required all 26 publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Alberta to either endorse the Chicago Principles on free expression, or develop a policy consistent with them.
“It is abundantly clear that more needs to be done to ensure our institutions are adequately protecting free speech,” Nicolaides said in a written statement Friday.
Alberta’s post-secondary institutions should be bastions of free speech and academic freedom that promote critical thinking. I will continue to explore greater steps we can take to strengthen free speech on campus.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2023.
Overdose prevention services in Red Deer will soon transition to a mobile site operated by Alberta Health Services
Next steps for Red Deer overdose prevention site
Alberta’s government continues to make overdose prevention services available across the province while also ensuring the safety of communities and neighbourhoods is a top priority. Alberta’s government will be working in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Turning Point over the next three to six months to implement the transition to a mobile overdose prevention site operated by AHS.
This transition is necessary to respond to the changing needs in Red Deer while improving the standard of service delivery at the overdose prevention site. Alberta’s government will continue working closely with the City of Red Deer and the broader community to put the safety and security of the community first while continuing to provide overdose prevention services in a professional manner.
“Overdose prevention services are healthcare services that must meet quality standards to ensure the safety of the community and a high-standard of care. Alberta Health Services is an accountable and proven operator that has experience managing these services across Alberta. My ministry will be working closely with AHS and the current operator over the next few months to smoothly transition these operations, ensuring there are no gaps in service for clients of the services.”
“We appreciate the leadership of the government of Alberta in this area. We thank Turning Point for their service and the lives saved over the past several years. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Red Deerians is a top priority, and we are confident this new AHS-operated mobile site will continue to meet the needs of our residents.”
Once the transition occurs, the new AHS-operated mobile unit will initially operate at the same location as the current overdose prevention site. Alberta’s government will continue to work with the City of Red Deer, and may change the location of the service within Red Deer based on input from the municipality and the changing needs of the community.
As with all overdose prevention services in the province, this mobile unit will be regulated and be required to meet the quality standards outlined in the Recovery-oriented Supervised Consumption Standards in order to be licensed. Overdose prevention site service providers must also demonstrate clearly defined referral pathways to detox, treatment and recovery services, as well as primary health-care services.
Alberta’s government is continuing to build a recovery-oriented system of care, where everyone struggling with addiction and mental health challenges is supported in their pursuit of recovery. This includes adding more than 9,000 new publicly funded treatment spaces, eliminating fees for residential addiction treatment, launching the Digital Overdose Response System (DORS) app and expanding opioid agonist treatment.
- To be licensed, supervised consumption site service providers need to follow requirements related to:
- the safety and security of clients, employees and the surrounding community
- standardized data collection
- staff qualifications and training
- clinical practice standards
- good neighbour agreements
- physical site requirements, such as having access to washrooms for clients
- Health Canada is responsible for granting exemptions under Section 56.1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to allow supervised consumption sites to operate. Overdose prevention sites require a similar exemption under Section 56(1) of the act or a letter of authorization from the Government of Alberta under the authority of the province’s class exemption.
- Alberta spends more than $1 billion annually on addiction and mental health care and supports, including prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.
- Any Albertan struggling with addiction can contact 211 Alberta to connect with local services and virtual supports. 211 is free, confidential and available 24-7.
- The Virtual Opioid Dependency Program provides same-day access to addiction medicine physicians and life-saving medications to Albertans across the province. Albertans can call 1-844-383-7688 seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
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