D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum is an out of the box thinker and as someone with a communication background, he has a knack for shining the spotlight on his constituents.
Seven years ago he introduced the D’Arcy-McGee-National Assembly Citizenship Medals. The ceremonies each June have been moving and memorable.
I am very excited to be the first person to unveil this year’s three recipients: a much-loved and respected city councillor, a mental-health and wellness pioneer and a determined patients’-rights advocate and life-long teacher.
It is still hard for me to believe that Ruth Kovac is no longer with us. She lost a hard-fought battle with cancer a year and a half ago. Ruth was a friend and colleague, someone I miss dearly! So kudos to the Birnbaum team and the selection committee for deciding to honour her posthumously.
Ruth was a Côte St-Luc City Councillor from 1990 until 2019 and her untimely passing. Exceptionally dedicated to her city, her community and a host of worthy causes, she was known and loved for her determination, compassion and hard work. During her years of public service, she initiated an annual blood-donor clinic, served as long-time president of the Mount Sinai Hospital Auxiliary, national secretary for Maccabi Canada and co-chair of the CSL Demerger Committee. She was a long-time activist and leader in the defence of English-speaking community concerns. A devoted daughter, mother, wife and grandmother, Ruth had an infectious smile and warmth that is deeply missed by all whom she touched.
The other two recipients are Beverly Spanier and Ella Amir.
Beverly has been a determined and tireless advocate for residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, where she has resided since 2015. Her lifetime commitment to and aptitude for supporting her fellow citizens has been focused on the welfare and protection of her fellow residents during the deeply stressful circumstances that marked the pandemic at the centre. Whether the issue was access to caregivers, to
second-vaccine doses or religious services, Beverly was tenacious and unyielding in her quest for answers that could comfort and reassure her fellow residents and their families. Those same qualities have guided Beverly throughout her life as a dedicated and caring teacher, volunteer and union activist. She is a past recipient of the Eshet Chayil Award from Congregation Shaar Hashomayim. Beverly, or “Miss Spanier” as we called her, was my economics teacher at Wagar High School dare I say more than 40 years ago.
Ella, a native of Israel, has been the executive director of AMI-Québec Action on Mental Illness since 1990. Under her guidance and leadership, AMI-Québec serves hundreds of families in French and English, through counselling programs for caregivers, school outreach programs and
education sessions for those struggling with mental illness. An often-published expert on mental-health issues, Ella is a Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient and a Member of the Order of Canada. Significantly, she coordinated AMI-Québec’s transition to virtual services, ensuring that her vast and vulnerable clientele remained fully connected during this difficult pandemic. She has served on numerous boards and advisory councils in helping to spread knowledge and availability of mental-health services.
You can watch the virtual ceremony on Tuesday, June 15th at 6:30 p.m. Here is the one-stop link to attend: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88362095407?pwd=eUJvUjk0S3h1cXBiWGhJblRCenJqUT09)
The final selections were made by a jury comprised of last year’s winners: David Lisbona, Jean-Sébastien Patrice (on behalf of MultiCaf) and Sima Paris. This is the seventh annual edition of the awards program.
“There is such a rich tradition of volunteer and community leadership in this riding,” noted Birnbaum. “Our three winners for 2021 have distinguished themselves throughout their lives as proud examples of that tradition. “I am proud to have instituted this National Assembly medals program back in 2015. It allows us to recognize those in the D’Arcy-McGee riding who have given so much back in service of their fellow residents. I hope that, as every year, many members of the community will join us for the medals ceremony.”
CBC Daybreak host Sean Henry will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, and a musical interlude will be offered by Joanna Cutler and her Que Sera ensemble (www.joannecutler.me).