Kevin Albers is known for his remarkable contributions towards affordable housing for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people across the province. As CEO of M’akola Group of Societies, BC’s largest Indigenous affordable housing provider and developer, Kevin has dedicated 20 years to stewarding the organization into a powerful force for change. A dedicated leader, Kevin’s creative mentality and depth of knowledge have transformed many lives and communities.
As President of the Talitha Koum Society, Mary O’Neill, helps empower women with addictions by providing a home, a nurturing community, 12-step programming and life skills training. A former teacher, counselor, and principal, her career spanned almost 40 years and her dedicated committee work helped establish the Tri-Cities’ first restorative-justice program now known as Communities Embracing Restorative Action (CERA). Today, Mary opens up her home regularly for support and social gatherings for immigrant women.
Richard Adkins grew up in a traditional Haida family, one in which his mother ran a dance group, and one where he had the opportunity to learn history and tradition. He has carried that love of art and tradition over many decades, beginning with studying Northwest Coast Art with Freda Diesing. As an established mixed media artist, Rick has created masterful pieces in sculpture, jewelry and drawing. Rick has garnered national recognition for his design, and his work has been exhibited at art galleries around the country. A true artist, Rick enjoys the process of creating art as well as the psychological effect of his art on the viewer. He is also passionate about teaching others and believes deeply in multi generational learning. Rick is also a leader in apprenticing female artists in a male dominant art form, saying that he learns as much from his apprentices as they do from him.
Bill Pechet has dedicated himself for over thirty years to creating environments that bring people together in refreshing and unexpected ways. He has made his mark on public spaces across the country through his street furnishings, lighting, urban infrastructures, public art and memorial design. Many of his contributions can be found around the lower mainland, including seating and lighting on Granville Street and the Shipyards in North Vancouver. In all his projects, Bill has extended the possibilities of merging social space with sculptural invention and sound ergonomics. Since 2000, as a faculty member of the architecture and environmental design programs at UBC, Bill has encouraged his students to consider how manners of contemporary urban social practice intersect with material and spatial invention, all impacting the experience of the built world. As an artist and mentor, Bill frequently lectures on the critical role that public space plays in healthy and vibrant cities. Bill’s work emanates from a desire to generate a generous sense of simultaneous recognition and pleasurable strangeness in the public realm, giving individuals the permission to see the world as a little bit wondrous.
Joyce Babula has volunteered her time and energy to her Gabriola Island home for more than 40 years. The Gabriola Island Community Hall is at the very heart of island life and, as President, Joyce has dedicated countless hours to fundraising and event planning to ensure the hall is well maintained – spearheading the Annual Salmon Barbecue, which is the highlight of the island’s summer activities. She played a role in the development of the cooperative preschool on Gabriola and, after working as a preschool teacher in Nanaimo, went on to become a teacher in the school system as a special education and Kindergarten teacher. Involved in many of Gabriola Island’s initiatives, Joyce is a consummate volunteer and community-builder.
Jerrilyn Schembri’s dedication to her Tumbler Ridge community is vast and varied, having contributed to the Tumbler Ridge Umbrella Committee, Museum Foundation and Emergency Planning Committee, in addition to the Red Cross Disaster Services. She also advocates for local youth through her work with the Tumbler Ridge Youth Services Society, and as Board Director of the Tumbler Ridge Arts Council and Board Chair of the Tumbler Ridge Library. Jerrilyn is a powerful force in her town and continues to immerse herself in community life.
Henry Speck Jr. (Hank) is the son of Henry Speck a renowned graphic artist. Hank began carving while working as a logger in his early twenties. His employer was so impressed by these early pieces that he invested in the tools and encouraged him to concentrate on carving. A self-taught artist of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation of the Tlawitsis Tribe, Hank has close to sixty years of carving experience. He is delighted that young carvers now come to him for advice. Many of his pieces are interpretations of the large bird masks used in the hamatsa ritual and the Atlikim dance series. Given the scale and intricacy of his work, Hank produces only a few major pieces each year and many of these are for cultural use. Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl) chiefs commission his gigantic raven and Hok Hok masks, stretching to six and seven feet in length, for use in potlatch ceremonies. Hank and his wife Julia live on the remote island community of Hopetown off Vancouver Island.
Lolly Bennett has a long history of volunteer service – her focus has been dedicated to serving the Vancouver Chapter of the National Congress of Black Women Foundation in her roles as a volunteer, Board Member and Chair. Her efforts have included contributions to planning and organizing youth and school programs, annual community event planning, and upholding the mission and vision of the foundation. In 2011, Lolly was also instrumental, within the committee, in acquiring a permanent community space for the Chapter in Burnaby. A natural and compassionate leader, Lolly serves as an inspiration to many.
As CEO of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Aart Schuurman Hess strives to build self-efficacy in GVFB membership by providing access to healthy food, education and training. Thanks to his strong leadership, GVFB has significantly improved member experience and the quality of food they distribute by developing food guidelines and nutrition standards; providing a more dignified member experience; and fostering educational programs. Aart brings a tireless and positive energy to his work, successfully forging partnerships with businesses and playing a strong role in shaping food security policy on multiple levels. Under Aart’s leadership, GVFB has become one of the most innovative and leading organizations tackling food insecurity in North America, serving 27,000 members each week.