AGM a community affair
Completely virtual for the first time in our 75 years, the Spinal Cord Injury Ontario Annual General Meeting (AGM) was a great success, thanks to the community members who participated, including staff, volunteers, Board members and corporate and individual partners. As a registered charity, we are bound to host an AGM as a legal requirement of our bylaws and the Ontario Corporations Act. This year, in addition to the business aspect of our AGM, we heard from some insightful community speakers.
After CEO Stuart Howe welcomed guests to the Zoom meeting, he introduced John Shepherd, a Ph.D. student of Rehab Science at UofT, fierce advocate for his community and recipient of the 2018-19 Patti Dawson Activist of the Year award. John spoke about the inherent strength of the SCI community with moving examples of how powerfully people have come together to advocate for improved equity in this province.
Stuart and our Chair of the Board of Directors, Bob Nigol, then presented their joint report, highlighting the diverse activities from our 2019-20 year, many of which are included in our 2019-20 Annual Report.
After a comprehensive and engaging Treasurer’s Report from Treasurer Mark Abrahams, Board member and Chair of our Governance and Nominations Committee Craig Brown presented the slate of 2010-21 Board members but not before sharing appreciation and praise for the extraordinary contribution of two outgoing Board members: Cindy Scott and Anita Kaiser.
We heard from SCIO’s Regional Services Co-ordinator in Sault Ste. Marie. Diane Morrel spoke passionately about her city, whose motto is “Naturally Gifted”, and the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Staying together during this time was critical in the Sault as well as across the province and Diane thanked SCIO and the Board of Directors for providing the long distance support felt so strongly by her community.
Board member Dana Francoz lost her internet access during the meeting unfortunately so didn’t get a chance to talk as expected about volunteerism and her long history with SCIO through her mother, Marjorie Francoz. “My mom has taught me the power of volunteering my time,” she says. “I am thrilled to serve on the Board of SCIO – the organization that helped my mom, and that my mom herself supported through her work as a Peer Supporter for as long as she was able. I am honoured to pick up her torch.”
Dana then introduced the 2019-20 core award recipients:
- This year’s Patti Dawson Activist of the Year is Chris Stigas, a man who describes himself as “keenly focused on advocating for people with disabilities for inclusion, while pushing decision makers for equitable and meaningful access to goods and services.” Chris is a very active and valuable member of our community who is changing things for the better.
- This year’s Employer of the Year worked with SCIO’s Employment Service team to hire 25 job seekers in a variety of roles, including disability consultant, customer service and support positions associated with CNE’s rides. Canadian National Exhibition was represented at the meeting by Jean-marc Valmont, Olivia Barreyre and Kirsten Argue.
- This year’s Vigmond Philanthropy Award was presented to two men who have made a deep and positive difference in our Kingston Region community for many years. They have represented spinal cord injury clients as personal injury lawyers since 1999 and have received several distinctions for their work with clients, in and out of court. Ted Bergeron and Chris Clifford of Bergeron Clifford Injury Lawyers was represented at the meeting by Chris Clifford.
Thanks to all who could join us for this special meeting and for contributing to a memorable year at SCIO. We love our community and this 90 minutes together demonstrated so many reasons why.
Stay tuned for video excerpts of our virtual AGM.