The 2017 Making a Difference Award (MADA) winners were announced at MBC's National Retreat on October 21st, 2017 during our banquet dinner. The following individuals and organizations were recognized for their outstanding achievements, advocacy work and generosity to Multiple Births Canada and the families MBC supports.
Corporate Award - Little Lulu Photography of London ON
For the past two years, Little Lulu photography has been taking photos of children who have had to use the NICU. Courtney, a mother of twins, saw a need to give back to the community, even though her twins where lucky enough not to need the NICU. Through the lens of her camera she captures photos of children who needed the NICU.
She started events with just London Multiple Birth Association members, but it has quickly evolved to include all members of the community who have needed the NICU for the growth and development of their children. The photo sessions happen twice a year, and they are done on a donation base to the NICU in London, with the last event half of the money was donated to the NICU and the other half to Ronald McDonald house of London. The photos have raised over $6,000 so far. The photos are printed and placed in a case near the entrance to the NICU to support and provide hope for those facing the struggles in the NICU. To date about 113 families have participated.
Congratulations Courtney and Little Lulu Photography.
Dionne Award - Dr Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth - Larsson
Dr Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson (deceased) were born December 31, 1953 as members of the Gwich’in First Nations. They were among the first Aboriginal athletes to represent Canada on the World stage. The Firth twins dominated Canadian cross-country skiing from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, capturing 48 Canadian championships, and 79 national medals overall. The sisters also competed in a number of World Championships, as well as in four Olympic Games , 72- 84. Shirley and Sharon Firth are the only female Canadian skiers to have competed in four consecutive Winter Olympic Games.
List of their Honours and Awards are many and include;
Commissioner’s Award, Government of the Northwest Territories (1981)
Member, Order of Canada (1987)
Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, Canadian Ski Museum (1990)
Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
National Aboriginal Achievement Award (2005/2006)
NWT Sport Hall of Fame (2012)
Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (2015)
The Firth sisters had to overcome many challenges in their journey. What makes their story unique, and why they should be recognized, is it was their close twin relationship with each other that strengthened them and helped them to succeed. In learning of their being inducted into the Canada’s Sports Hall Of Fame (as the first Aboriginals from NWT), Sharon had the following to say
"Because of my sister's passing, I didn't want to do it without her. And I thought, well, we've always done everything together in relation to sports, and we are both being inducted, which is pretty amazing. So I accepted graciously." These sisters were always recognized as twins, they not only were stellar representations of Canadian women athletes, and of First Nation members, but also of the multiple births community.
Congratulations Sharon and Shirley.
Sharon had the following to say upon learning of their award from MBC; “On behalf of my late twin sister Shirley Firth-Larsson and I will be honoured to accept this amazing award”
Media Award - Arms Bumanlag
For almost 10 years Arms Bumanlag has been a strong supporter of the local Windsor/Essex POMBA chapter as well as MBC. His work with AM800 radio and the local CTV station over the past 14 years has been focused on giving the spotlight to community organizations such as ours. Arms started working with the local chapter to help them promote their clothing sale. He would do radio interviews with the coordinators in the weeks leading up to the sale, and then follow up with a live TV interview from the sale. In 2010, the 2011 Windsor conference committee approached him to voice a promotion video filmed locally in Windsor to advertise the conference. In the weeks leading up to the 2011 conference, he did a live TV interview as well as an entire hour dedicated to multiple birth issues.
After that event Windsor POMBA began seeing more of Arms. He would call if he had some "leftover" air time and allow Windsor to promote the group, prenatal classes and the sale. They averaged about 6 times a year being on radio or television with him over the past few years.
When the idea of a national "public service announcement" on all of the Bell media radio stations came to be. Arms quickly stepped up and volunteered his time to voice the PSA, that PSA has been valued at over $100,000/year for the last 6 years, and continues to run on the radio.
His weekend radio show called Experts on Call, is very popular in Windsor. If there is ever an open hour, he will call and ask for someone to come on and help him fill in time from Windsor POMBA, promoting whatever is going on at the time. Arms has recently changed jobs and is now the local CBC nightly 6pm news anchor. He has already approached Windsor POMBA, and made them promise to keep him informed about what is going on with the group and come to him if they ever need help with promotions.
International Award - Millie Smith & Lewis Cann
Millie Smith and Lewis Cann knew early on in their pregnancy in 2016 that their twin daughter Skye had a disorder and would not survive past birth. Despite a pregnancy filled with emotion and anguish, knowing they were going to lose one of their precious girls, the couple had long conversations about how best to remember their daughter. They spent a wonderful three hours with her, and cherished every moment. However, it wasn’t until a chance comment from another multiple’s mom in the nursery that their idea for how best to remember Skye came to life. The other new mom casually said “You’re so lucky you haven’t got twins…..”. It wasn’t meant to be a heartless remark, but to the family who had just lost one of their twins, the comment was devastating. They decided in that moment to do something to help other families avoid such hurtful times. Especially for those families in the NICU where nurses, doctors, and families are in and out and unable to know the full picture of a lost multiple. From there, the purple butterfly campaign was born.
A simple purple butterfly placed on NICU incubators and cribs, with signage up in the hospital, allows those visiting to know that the young baby had a brother(s) or sister(s) that didn’t survive. They can be sensitive to the parents, and supportive in their time of need.
This campaign has taken off, and the Skye High Foundation was launched. The Purple Butterflies can be seen in hospitals across the UK, as well as New Zealand and Australia. Other hospitals around the world are picking up the campaign including the Philippines, USA, and Scotland. The couple is now working on blankets to market and sell in order to fund improved services at their local hospital including providing counselling services to grieving families.
The Smith/Cann family is overcoming their loss and is honouring their daughter, and all multiple babies lost in a truly meaningful way. They are supporting multiple births families around the globe as they struggle during a heartbreaking time, allowing them the dignity and support that they need. We know that Millie Smith and Lewis Cann of the Skye High Foundation have truly honoured their angel Skye, and in doing so have improved the lives of multiple births families and are making a difference on a global scale.
Congratulations Millie and Lewis
From Millie Smith: We are completely humbled and grateful for this award. We originally set this up in memory of our Skye to help her legacy live on. We never believed it would go this far but we are so proud that it has helped so many families.
Thank you to who ever nominated us.
All we hope is that it brings comfort and some help to any family dealing with a loss of a baby who was part of a multiple birth. All we ask now, is that you help us raise further awareness of the purple butterfly, so it can continue to help many other families in our position across the world.
Our biggest thanks,
Millie and lewis.
In loving memory of Skye Lily Cann and all her angel friends.
National Award - Elaine Nugent
For the last 4 years, Elaine has been a member of MBC’s Board of Directors, currently serving as the Director of Information Management. Many of the things Elaine does are not as obvious but they are time consuming and intergral to the running of our organization.
Some of the many things she has worked on in her short 4 years are,
-Spearheaded the move of the main MBC Website to our new provider saving MBC significant expenses.
-For the last 4 years Elaine has been a part of the website team, continually updating the site to have the most current resources available, making sure our announcements always featured our current activities, and helping to maintain our global presence.
-In 2015, Elaine was a part of the restructuring of MBC, making sure the transition for the new Office Manager went smoothly and that she received all the backup and training she needed.
-In 2016, she revamped and relaunched the Multiple Moments online website, completely changing the content to be partially password protected allowing MBC to share vital content with general public while maintaining privacy and benefits for members only.
-Created and maintained the 2017 Retreat Website including setting up and administering the online registration for members.
-Elaine is a vital part of the communications team, helping to maintain the membership information contained in our e-communications and making sure the online support databases are maintained.
Elaine consistently and quietly works behind the scenes supporting MBC with all the millions of technical issues that come with running a National Charity.
Local Award - Valerie Hodgins
Valerie Hodgins has been the backbone of POMBA Windsor/Essex for almost 15 years. Since the birth of her triplets in 2002, Valerie has attended almost every POMBA meeting and event. Her place of employment was POMBA's corporate sponsor for over 10 years, providing free meeting space, photocopying and much more. POMBA Windsor knew this was because of how much her employer respects her and wanted to make her happy. When her employer had to change locations and could no longer host POMBA, Valerie was the one to find a new space for meetings.
Valerie is the proud mother of triplets Chloe, Cameron and Carter. When her children were 3 years old, Chloe and Cameron were given the diagnosis of autism. From there Val then became an advocate for special needs in her chapter. She is the go to person for parents facing diagnosis of any kind. She is always there with information, referrals and a listening ear. What she has done for special needs children, multiples or not, in Windsor has been a game changer. She is also the one to talk to all our triplet families. She goes through what to expect, what not to do and how to make it all work. So many of these families have gone into their deliveries with a bit more piece of mind thanks to her.
Val has held almost every position on the POMBA executive. She excels at event planning, organization and making families feel at home within the group. She spent many years as chair and even stepped back into that job last year, when the chair was unable to stay on due to an injury. Val has amazing community contacts and has brought in many amazing speakers to POMBA Windsor group. Val has worked the clothing sale, every sale for 10 years as the money counter.
In addition to her full-time job, she holds a second part time job in admitting at the local hospital. While not at all part of her POMBA duties, Val often visits, advises and welcomes families with multiples right at the hospital. She has sat and cried with families whose babies were born too early and are spending many days in the NICU, or sadly did not survive. She has been a friendly face for families in that setting, whether they ever join POMBA or not. Quite recently in fact, Val picked up frozen breastmilk from a new mom that couldn't make it up to the NICU and delivered it on her way to work. She has also taking to staying later after her shift to help this single mom with feedings up in the NICU.
Val was part of the original team that developed and presents POMBA Windsor’s very successful Greater Expectations prenatal class. In addition to teaching the class for the past 7 years, she always makes sure that everything is printed and ready for each class.
Valerie was the co-chair of the 2011 Conference committee, giving endless hours of her time to helping make that event the best it could be. No matter the request or being "Voluntold Val" never says no she just jumps on board and goes for the ride, often taking the ideas of others and bringing them to life.
Valerie has also done some volunteering at the national level. She is the back up chair for the Special needs network, does French translation, reviews articles and has attended many conferences.
There is no better person for this award, even with a husband, 15 year old triplets, 2 jobs, many doctor. appiontments for her children due to special needs, work with the French community, the Autism Society, Kids Help Phone and more, Val always has time for POMBA Windsor.
Chapter Award - Greater Sudbury Multiple Births Association
The Greater Sudbury Multiple Births Association has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2013 and deserves the distinction of the Making A Difference Chapter Award.
As of this year the GSMBA has reached a membership milestone and is now providing support to over 50 families, from the beginnings of just 5 families in 2013 this alone is impressive. The members and executive are showing astounding commitment to helping families in the multiple-birth community. The GSMBA has hosted many events from summer BBQs to splash pad gatherings and camping trips to Easter and Christmas socials complete with crafts, family pictures, and a potluck. These frequent events bring together members to share stories, encouragement and create friendships, something that was lacking in their area for a long time. As part of the community support GSMBA also organizes a semi-annual clothing &equipment sale which has helped to bolster their group's revenues, as well as GSMBA's reputation throughout the community. To further that commitment the GSMBA executive recently can together to support a family in need providing assistance in order to purchase basic supplies.
Currently through much hard work, the GSMBA execuitve is on the cusp of finalizing official association bylaws, which will allow them to become a registered Not-for-Profit Organization.
The fact that in a society that is attached to its electronics, involved in social media and all about online groups, it is amazing they have been able to create and thrive as a new chapter over the past 4 years, and are already giving back to their community. There is not one event or project that highlights the efforts of the GSMBA but rather the positive environment of support, the open and welcoming attitudes of the GSMBA families, and closeness of the executive and membership.