CELEBRATING LOCAL COMMUNITY SPIRIT
The 2023 VOscars Volunteer Awards
The VOscars Volunteer Awards is the highlight of the year for the city’s volunteers and nonprofits. The event celebrates Ottawa’s vibrant volunteer spirit and gives special recognition to those individuals, organizations, and businesses who have made a difference in the community.
The 2023 VOscars Awards Gala took place on Thursday, October 26 at the Sala San Marco, 215 Preston Street, Ottawa.
Nominations for the 2024 VOscars Awards will open in Spring 2024.
“Year after year, day in and day out, Ottawa depends on volunteers to improve lives, break down barriers and create opportunities for people across our city. […] Volunteers represent the kind of quiet determination and heroism that inspires others to act.”
— Geoff Simpson, CFO Hydro Ottawa, speaking at the 2022 VOscars
2023 Lifetime Achievement Award
Every year Volunteer Ottawa presents its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award to an outstanding Ottawa citizen who has devoted their life to giving back to the community. We are excited to announce this year’s winner: Sarah Onyango!
Our 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is Sarah Onyango, an outstanding community builder and media personality recognized for her extensive volunteer work and leadership, especially in Ottawa’s African and Caribbean communities. Sarah has been an active local volunteer since 1993 with organizations such as Black History Ottawa, United Way East Ontario, the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, The Legacy Voices Institute, and CHUO. Her volunteer work as a broadcaster, emcee, leader, translator, and communications specialist has been recognized with many awards, including the United Way/Centraide Ottawa Community Builder Award in both 2008 and 2011.
Previous recipients include:
- 2022 – Marc Jolicoeur
- 2020/1 – Jacquelin Holzman
- 2019 – Dennis Jackson
- 2018 – James McCracken
- 2017 – Dave Smith
- 2016 – Coralie Lalonde
- 2015 – Jim Durrell
- 2014 – Barbara McInnes
- 2013 – Grete Hale
- 2012 – Lawrence Greenspon
- 2011 – Max Keeping
Watch MP Yasir Naqvi's welcome video for 2023!
“It is absolutely thrilling that Sarah Onyango is the recipient of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. Sarah is a staunch advocate for racial equity, and has done tremendous work within the arts, culture, and youth spaces of Ottawa’s Black community. Through her various roles within Black History Ottawa, Black Ottawa Scene, her weekly radio show and more, Sarah has made significant contributions to our community through her advocacy, advancing education, and providing opportunities for dialogue. We are incredibly grateful to Sarah and how she has helped shape and create a more understanding and inclusive community. Congratulations!”
— Yasir Naqvi, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre
Thank you to our 2023 sponsors for making the VOscars Awards Gala possible!
Interested in being a sponsor in 2024? Contact [email protected] to talk.
Overall Event Sponsor
Lifetime Achievement Award sponsor
Welcome Reception sponsor
Community Award Sponsors
Mayor’s Award for Volunteer Spirit
2023 Winners and Finalists
Winners of the 2023 VOscars Volunteer Awards were announced live at the VOscars Gala on October 26, 2023 at Sala San Marco. Thank you to all the amazing nominees, finalists, and winners!
Mayor’s Award for Volunteer Spirit
Sponsored by United Way East Ontario.
This prestigious Award is given to an individual or group of individuals who exemplify the spirit of volunteering in Ottawa through their significant community impact. This keystone award celebrates a commitment to volunteering that goes above and beyond the other categories. Nominations in this category must demonstrate significant time and/or impact to the nominee’s community through volunteering.
OMRA Shelter Corporation
OMRA Shelter Corporation was nominated for their essential work supporting small refugee families in Ottawa. This all-volunteer organization raises funds and provides rent subsidies as well as vital services like English tutoring and furniture moving.
Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award
Sponsored by Algonquin College
The Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award celebrates an Ottawa youth who has made a significant contribution to their community through volunteering.
Adil Amarsi was nominated for his many volunteering activities, including Junior Volunteer Lead at the Ismaili Community Centre, as Flight Sergeant at the RCAC, and leadership in local food drives and community park clean ups. Adil is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences at McMaster University this fall.
Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award
Sponsored by The Council on Aging of Ottawa
The Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award is given to an older adult volunteer who has made a meaningful impact in the community through their volunteering.
Ann Lambert was nominated for her integral role in supporting individuals struggling with mental health and/or physical challenges through over 20 years of volunteering with Ottawa Therapy Dogs. Ann’s ongoing support for OTD’s mission includes both public and behind-the-scenes work. Ann is pictured here with therapy dogs Bracken, Lark, and Milly.
Leadership in Skilled Volunteering Award
Sponsored by Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP
The Leadership in Skilled Volunteering Award is given to someone who regularly volunteers in a position that uses their professional skills. For example, an accountant who assists with yearly tax clinics, a carpenter who helps increase accessibility in Ottawa by building and installing ramps, or a communications consultant who designs outreach campaigns.
Aidan Fritz-Millett was nominated for his ongoing work with Christie Lake Kids’ Leaders in Training program. Using experience from his career in social work, Aidan connects with youth and helps them discover their strengths. Aidan says, “It is my vision for my life to make a powerful, positive, lasting impact on the lives of others.”
Sylvia Renaud was nominated for over 20 years of work with Kids on the Block Ottawa as a puppeteer, trainer, and Board Member, and coordinator. Her nomination notes “she does it from her heart with no desire for recognition”, but we are glad to recognize her.
Leadership in Corporate Volunteerism Award
Sponsored by Export Development Canada
The Leadership in Corporate Volunteerism Award celebrates Ottawa businesses or employers who demonstrate social responsibility practices that support employee volunteering. The winner will have a comprehensive, successful employee engagement program to encourage employees to volunteer and give back to the community.
Pathways to Possibilities Award
Sponsored by the Ottawa Board of Trade
The Pathways to Possibilities Award celebrates an organization or individual who empowers those in our community who face barriers, using volunteering to create new opportunities and expand horizons. The award highlights the capacity of volunteering to enhance skills, gain experience and increase social cohesion by recognizing an individual or organization whose leadership has helped newcomers, youth in need, and other marginalized groups find a pathway to opportunity.
Nerio Guerrero and Jennifer Hughes Doucet
CCI Ottawa Conversation Circles volunteers
Dancia Kendra Susilo
The Tenant Volunteers of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation Communities
The Tenant Volunteers of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation Communities are finalists for the 2023 Pathways to Possibilities Award for their collective contributions to building healthier, safer, more vibrant and inclusive communities every day. While individuals have been recognized before, this nomination includes all OCH tenant volunteers.
Outstanding Volunteer Program Award
Sponsored by YellowTree Grant Services Inc.
The Outstanding Volunteer Program Award is given to a not-for-profit organization in the Ottawa region that has built a successful, thriving volunteer program based on excellence in volunteer management principles and practices. Though this award has been reserved for VO members in the past, in 2023 the nomination is open for all Ottawa-region nonprofits and charities.
Hospice Care Ottawa
Active Newcomer Youth Ottawa
Active Newcomer Youth Ottawa is a returning finalist from 2022 nominated again this year for their volunteer program which helps provide a culturally safe space where immigrant and newcomer youth and children in Ottawa participate in social programs to increase their social inclusion and promote mental wellness.
The Door Youth Centre
The Door Youth Centre was nominated for its ongoing strong volunteer program which ensures that The Door is a facility both by, and for, young people. In the words of one volunteer, “The Door Youth Center has given me plentiful opportunity to learn and develop skills, providing words of encouragement and motivation.”
How Are Finalists and Winners Selected?
During the nomination period, members of the public are invited to submit nominations for the seven award categories. Nominations will be reviewed by a committee of the VO Board of Directors and local leaders in the nonprofit space. All finalists will receive a complimentary ticket to the Awards Gala on October 26. Winners will be announced live during the Gala and presented with their award.