World Vision Canada honours Canadians with Heroes for Children awards

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Six exceptional Canadians recognized for their extraordinary efforts to make the world a better place for children.
Rohingya children playing in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the world’s largest refugee camp. World Vision Canada’s Heroes for Children awards celebrate individuals for their dedication to helping the world's most vulnerable children. Photo: Jon Warren, 2019
(January 25, 2021)
World Vision Canada is proud to present this year’s Heroes for Children award recipients. Each year, World Vision recognizes exceptional Canadians whose heart for children led them to do something extraordinary and make the world a better place.

“The Heroes for Children awards recognize and celebrate remarkable Canadians for their passion and work to make a positive difference in the lives of vulnerable children,” said Michael Messenger, President and CEO, World Vision Canada. “In this unprecedented time in all our lives and our world, we are so grateful to this year’s recipients, who have demonstrated their philanthropy and service through volunteer work, raising awareness or using their influence to help children around the world. When we work together, we can accomplish so much more.”

The 2020 recipients of the Heroes for Children Awards are:

Mr. Alex Trebek 
Voice for Children Award

Alex Trebek, best known for his work as host of Jeopardy!, first connected with World Vision during the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s. He was so moved by World Vision’s reports on that crisis that he picked up the phone and asked how he could help. Over the years, Alex travelled to many developing countries to learn about the challenges children were facing and shared his experiences and children’s stories with Canadians. Alex genuinely cared for the needs of vulnerable girls and boys. And when he spoke, he inspired people to act. While it’s difficult to summarize the totality of Alex Trebek’s life and accomplishments, World Vision estimates that his influence has had a positive impact on well over one million children around the world. We were so saddened by his passing this year but are pleased to recognize his many years of service through this posthumous award. 

The Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine 
Ruth Roberts Award

Jean Augustine is a trailblazer devoted to the pursuit of social justice. In 1993, she made history as the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to Canada’s House of Commons as a Member of Parliament, where she worked to pass legislation to protect disadvantaged low-income families in Canada and around the world, and later served in Cabinet. Originally from Grenada, Dr. Augustine immigrated to Canada in 1960 and worked as an educator and school principal, shaping the lives of hundreds of children in Toronto, all while deeply involved in grassroots efforts in the community. Today, she remains involved with numerous community activities related to social and racial justice, as well as the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment.

Dr. Terry Leblanc 
Ken McMillan Award

Terry LeBlanc, a Mi’kmaq-Acadian, is the Executive Director of Indigenous Pathways and the founding Chair and current Director of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS), an indigenous learning community. For more than 38 years, he has worked in Native North American and global Indigenous contexts as an educator in theology, cultural anthropology and community development practice, helping the church and communities build a better world for children facing injustice. For seven of those years, between 1994-2001, Dr. Leblanc gave support to World Vision’s work with Indigenous communities. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor at Tyndale University in Toronto, Dr. Leblanc also teaches at George Fox University and Seminary in Portland, Oregon, and Acadia University and Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Rev. Verner Drost and Dr. Bernie Zebarth  
Courage Award

FreddyLink began in 2009 when a few local leaders wondered aloud if the residents of Fredericton, New Brunswick, could join together to help fight global issues like poverty. The group approached World Vision to partner and determined they wanted to connect with a community in Haiti. Over the years, this unique partnership between the city of Fredericton, two communities in Haiti’s central plateau region, and World Vision has helped thousands of children and families get access to clean water, supported economic empowerment programs like woodworking, sewing and animal husbandry, education, health, nutrition, hygiene and child protection. Rev. Drost, church liaison, and Dr. Zebarth, the project coordinator, have given hundreds of volunteer hours to support the FreddyLink initiative.

Mr. Malcolm MacKillop 
Power of Generosity Award

Malcolm MacKillop is a successful trial lawyer, speaker, professor of law, and author. Throughout his 30-year career, he has consistently sought out opportunities to advocate for important causes. In 2009, Malcolm founded Lawyers International Food Enterprise (LIFE), a not-for-profit organization raising awareness of child poverty in Africa and raising money from the legal community to support The Stephen Lewis Foundation and World Vision. He has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support health programming primarily in Tanzania. His passion and commitment have meant that many mothers and children have access to the health care and nutrition they need for a better start in life.