Several of the region’s most dedicated volunteers were honoured Tuesday night as the Victoria Leadership Awards were given out. The awards honour the accomplishments of “local heroes,” who give time, energy and expertise to help the community. The eighth annual VLA gala took place at the Fairmont Empress. The awards are a partnership between Leadership Victoria, the University of Victoria, the Rotary Clubs of Greater Victoria, the Victoria Foundation and the United Way of Greater Victoria.
Naz Rayani was given the leadership lifetime achievement award. The pharmacist and philanthropist started his career in Kenya in 1972 and now owns several pharmacies throughout the capital region. He has built up community events, including the World Partnership Walk, held in Victoria for 24 years. Money raised supports Third World economic development programs by the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. The University of Victoria community leadership award went to Mary Ellen Purkis and Andrew Weaver.
Purkis is the dean of UVic’s Faculty of Human and Social Development and a professor in the school of nursing. She was honoured for her work at UVic as well as her volunteer connections with the United Way of Greater Victoria and the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation. Weaver is a professor and Canada research chair at UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. He is known for his research into climate change.
Former Oak Bay mayor Christopher Causton won one of the Rotary Community Leadership awards. Causton ran successful restaurants in Victoria and sat on Oak Bay council and the Capital Regional District from 1987 to 2011. He was mayor from 1996 to 2011. Bruce Williams was honoured for his community leadership. Williams, community and client relations manager for CTV Vancouver Island, volunteers hundreds of hours each year for charities. He was fundraising chair for Jeneece Place and director of CFAX Santas Anonymous.
Leanna Hill won the Vancity youth award. Hill is youth program co-ordinator for Volunteer Victoria and has worked with hundreds of youth in the region. The leadership alumni award went to Jeannette Hughes, a former Sidney councillor, who has campaigned for housing and for the rights of the disabled. The award for collaboration and partnership went to Kathy Stinson, executive director of the Victoria Cool Aid Society. She has led numerous initiatives, including creation of the Access Health Centre. Sherry LeBlanc was given the Royal Roads University award for coaching and mentoring. LeBlanc has coached and mentored groups, individuals and teams across Canada.