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.
First test production of plastic a milestone for Heartland Petrochemical Complex
CALGARY — The $4.3-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex, which has been under construction northeast of Edmonton since 2018, has produced its first plastic pellets.
Owner and operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. said Tuesday the newly commissioned facility has been producing test pellets steadily since late June, an important milestone en route to the expected start of full commercial operation sometime this fall.
The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will convert Alberta propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene beads, an easily transported form of plastic that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.
Steven Noble, spokesman for Calgary-based Inter Pipeline, said the facility will be the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in North America. He said approximately 70 per cent of Heartland’s total production capacity has been already contracted out to long-term customers.
“Through the duration of the project’s construction, we’ve seen demand for polypropylene increase significantly … including at one point hitting an all-time record (market price),” Noble said in an interview. “The demand that we initially forecast certainly hasn’t gone away.”
The Heartland facility is being built with the support of a $408-million grant from Alberta’s provincial government. The cash grant, part of an incentive program aimed at growing the province’s petrochemicals sector, is to be paid to Inter Pipeline in equal instalments over three years once the complex is operational.
Noble said by creating a new market for propane, the Heartland facility is an example of how natural resource development in Alberta is diversifying.
“The fact that we’re now looking at our raw resources in a different way, and figuring out different ways to get value out of them and create other refined products right here at home … is really the part of the story that everyone here is excited about,” he said.
The Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to employ 300 people once fully operational.
The polypropylene produced at the facility will be branded as Heartland Polymers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.
Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press
Edmonton council to ask province to support new centre to fight downtown crime
By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton
City council has voted unanimously to ask the government of Alberta to support the creation of a hub in Edmonton’s Chinatown where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime.
City administration submitted a report to council Monday that describes the proposed Healthy Streets Operations Centre.
David Jones, who is with the city and presented the report, told councillors it would not be a traditional police station.
“The people who will see the benefits of this include Chinatown residents and businesses, but also people who are on the streets who are vulnerable and being preyed on by some of the criminal element,” Jones said.
The creation of the centre is one of several actions the city has promised to address a spike in violent crime downtown, in nearby Chinatown and on the transit system.
Edmonton police officers have already increased their presence in problem areas.
In May, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro used his ministerial power to demand a report from the city on what is being done to get crime under control.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during Monday’s council meeting that the city has delivered with its plan for the centre and now it is time for the province to step up.
“Edmonton gets the lowest per-capita funding to support ending homelessness compared to seven other cities (in Alberta). I think it’s really important that we ask the people whose inaction has caused harm to the community to be stepping up,” Sohi said.
“Most of the violence in Chinatown is related to houselessness … and addictions causing a lot of harm to the community and to individuals. We’re asking city taxpayers to pick up the pieces or pay for the consequences of lack of investment in health and lack of investment in housing.”
Sohi added he gets the sense the province wants to help.
The provincial government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report says the centre will operate seven days a week, 21 hours a day, and could cost up to $18.1 million over the next four years.
The city and Edmonton Police Service could partially support the centre and Jones said there have also been offers from different businesses in Chinatown to provide a building for the hub at no cost.
But council voted in favour of asking the provincial government to determine how it can provide mental health, housing and shelter support.
Sohi said he plans to engage with the province and will report back to council on Aug. 15.
Jones said to get the centre up and running by next summer, the city aims to hire four peace officer sergeants, 16 community peace officers, two community safety liaisons and three firefighters or fire prevention officers.
The report said community members asked for increased security in problem areas and that building a centre in “hot spots” can effectively reduce crime. Research cited in the report has also shown it wont displace violence to other areas.
“Studies have consistently found no noticeable displacement and, in some cases, a diffusion effect, meaning that hot-spot policing reduces crime in the areas adjacent to the hot spots as well.”
Dr. Temitope Oriola, a criminology professor at the University of Alberta, said the hub model has been around for at least a decade in Canada and the centre is a good start.
“The real test is to ensure it is not too heavily tilted toward and reliant on policing,” he said in a email.
“The approach needs to have law enforcement as one of several critical components with people, community revitalization and customized social service at the epicentre.”
Oriola added the centre would be most effective in reducing crime if it also goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives in the city that address addictions issues and homelessness.
“Employment created should also focus on those most directly connected to Chinatown,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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