The Make A Buzz Ottawa event was created in 2015 as part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, and represented a merger of two other events, Recipe for Success (auction fundraiser) and Engines of Success (community recognition celebration). Sold out in 2015, interest has not waned: as it has done every year, Make A Buzz Ottawa 2019 was a full house, with about 325 guests.
Different for this year, based on listening carefully to feedback from 2018, we simplified the event – a more spacious reception (about an hour to bid on items, enjoy a photo booth, and socialize) and a dinner that is focused on the recognition ceremonies without speeches or other interruptions (no live auction items).
The goal as announced at the start of the dinner was to respectfully honour all award recipients but to be through the agenda before the main course was over to allow plenty of time for table talk. And that’s exactly what happened! Long after the cake and coffee were cleared, there was still a buzz in the air as many guests carried on their conversations late into the night.
Co-Leader Julie Kingstone welcomed guests to launch the awards portion of the evening, initially experiencing a mixed result with the use of a flashing siren to focus the audience on the stage. By the time she introduced Co-Leader Keenan Wellar as the evening’s MC, everyone was ready for the first award.
The audience went wild for Tim, recognized for a combination of efforts that helped promote the LiveWorkPlay mission and values to public audiences. This included his contributions as a Shopify employee as well as his role in the popular Just Enough Support video series.
Developed with support from the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Housing Task Force, the series now has more than 100,000 views on our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels!
The Rob More Good Life award continues to celebrate the life of a young man taken from us far too soon in the bus/train tragedy of 2013. Gillian Gillespie was an idea recipient for this award, which recognizes individuals who have followed their hopes and dreams in pursuit of the life they want to live. Gillian is proud of her apartment and her job with Outaouais Moving, as well as her busy life in the community and her love of fitness.
The Legacy Inclusion Leadership Awards are one of the highest LiveWorkPlay honours, recognizing a lifetime of work and/or volunteer advocacy in the championing of inclusion. Our first recipient, Joe Dale, was humbled with a long list of his accomplishments, including (prior to his recent retirement announcement) a very successful decade at the Ontario Disability Employment Network.
He wasn’t able to make it from Winnipeg to receive his award in person, but David Weremy’s Legacy Inclusion Leadership Award ceremony brought the house down on several occasions – in response to the introduction, in response to a clip from his co-produced documentary The Freedom Tour, and after his own video response to the award. David suffered for 15 years at the Manitoba Development Centre (massive institution in Portage la Prairie) and after getting out was determined to not only take control of his own life, but has never given up on fighting for the rights and freedoms of all persons with disabilities.
The Celebration of Friendship Award recognizes individuals who have come together in friendship through an introduction by LiveWorkPlay – it could be through our matching initiative or Friday night meet-ups. Whatever the case, the point is, they became friends and stayed friends for a long time, and MJ Duford and Brodie Cox are exactly what this is all about! After a decade or so of friendship, LiveWorkPlay has nothing to do with it – they are a part of each other’s families at this point.
The Volunteer Leadership Award is for shining examples of current volunteers who are supporting LiveWorkPlay, either through direct action with supported individuals and/or through committee work, public awareness, and fundraising. Valerie Doyon is involved as a volunteer match and supports Friday night meet-ups, and in addition, appeared in our Just Enough Support videos and recruited donors – what a year! Melissa Struthers is an unbelievable driving force as part of our Federal Employment Strategy Group (FESG) encouraging federal departments and agencies to hire people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism.
LiveWorkPlay doesn’t offer “group programs” to give the people we support “something to do” rather we connect with community-based organizations and help each individual to pursue their interest (arts, recreation, sports, learning, and more) alongside other citizens. This year we honoured the Ottawa Mission’s Diversity University, providing free access to post-secondary learning opportunities, the Carlingwood Y for being accessible and welcoming, and The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre for their volunteer program that welcomes and includes diverse representation.
The Inclusive Employer Award isn’t necessarily about “how many” people with intellectual disabilities an employer hires, it’s about the quality of the relationship. Hulse, Playfair and McGarry has been an exemplary employer for supporting Garret to flourish and for recognizing the value that he brings to the workplace.
This year’s Inclusive Employment Champion awards (also known as the “game-changer awards”) recognized two leaders involved in the “100 Jobs Challenge” issued jointly by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Public Service Commission of Canada, which, as announced in the House of Commons, has already resulted in more than 75 jobs!
Stan Lee made an eloquent speech that also had a distinctive tone of “we aren’t done yet” that energized the audience – there’s nothing quite like the excitement of knowing that by next year, many other people with intellectual disabilities will have been hired!
The Leadership In Employment Diversity Award was presented to Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy, who was joined by everyone else in the room who works at Health Canada, which included employees hired through LiveWorkPlay: Claudia Bryan, Philipe Delangy, Dana Langevin, Sebastian Hale, Ryan Davis, and Nadine Ghadie. As with the tone of optimism set by Stan Lee, it’s clear from the team at Health Canada that there is more to come!
That might have been the end of the awards, but soon enough, there was a fresh buzz in the air as Janet Balcome claimed the 50/50 prize and didn’t hesitate about what to do with the winnings: “I’m going on a trip!”