Joan Acosta's accomplishments have helped introduce the joy of the written word to hundreds of thousands of British Columbians. Born in Guatemala, she taught in Ontario before moving to B.C. in 1979 to become an English-As-a-Second-Language instructor at Capilano College.
Twelve years ago, Joan Acosta was appointed editor of the Westcoast Reader, an ESL source of local, national and international news stories for adults and teens who are improving their English reading skills.
Her vision and determination as the paper's only staff member took the newspaper from a struggling publication with no funding, to a literacy tool highly valued by teachers and treasured today by more than 65,000 new readers.
Joan Acosta's expertise and innovative ideas have been emulated worldwide. As a result, she's in constant demand for workshops across North America. She is the editor of the critically acclaimed "Newcomer's Guide to Resources and Services in B.C.", has published her own best-selling "Coast-to-Coast Reader", and served on boards of several ESL organizations.
Her ability to turn complex material into something easily read and understood by new readers has extended into special issues such as an AIDS newspaper unit now distributed worldwide. Most importantly, her skill and dedication are appreciated daily by those discovering the world of literacy.Return to Table of Contents
Ric Careless is one of B.C.'s leaders in wilderness preservation. After moving here from Toronto in 1968, he has worked quietly and effectively for more than two decades to encourage protection of the British Columbia wilds he grew to love.
His work on wilderness campaigns has contributed to the protection of 10 major areas totaling an estimated 3 million acres. Most recently, his visionary efforts contributed to the protection of the Tatshenshini wilderness area as a provincial park.
A co-founder of the Sierra Club of B.C., he is now executive director of Tatshenshini Wild, and chair of its International Network, which represents 10 million members in leading North American conservation groups.
In 1991 Ric Careless received Equinox magazine's Citation for Environmental Achievement and in 1992 he became the first non-U.S. citizen ever to be named River Conservationist of the Year by the American Rivers group.
His wilderness preservation focus is broad, bringing government and industries such as tourism, mining and foresty together to seach for solutions beneficial to all.
Ric Careless's philosophy of moving away from confrontation towards environmental solutions will be valued by future generations enjoying the beautiful areas protected through his efforts.Return to Table of Contents
In naming Jean Coulthard Composer of the Year in 1984, the Performing Rights Organization said that the underlying force in all her work is feeling. Those who have been her students speak of her as a mentor, a world-class composer, a musical catalyst.
In a distinguished career which encompasses six decades of continuous activity, she has created more than 200 compositions. Her music, including works for orchestra, opera, chamber music, voice, and others, is regularly performed and broadcast worldwide.
Born in Vancouver, Jean Coulthard began to write music while still a child and continued her musical studies in England, New York and France. By the 1940s she was already being hailed as one of Canada's most important composers.
In 1947 she was invited to teach music at the University of British Columbia, a position she maintained until her retirement in 1973. With her retirement from academic life, her activity as a composer blossomed with a renewed intensity.
In 1978 she was named a Freeman of the City of Vancouver and an Officer in the Order of Canada.
Jean Coulthard's belief that a composer has a special responsibility to the community resulted in works designed to be accessible to the wider public, including works for students. She has brought British Columbia recognition in the musical field that has made possible the achievements of younger composers whom she taught and assisted.Return to Table of Contents
Redina Hamilton was born and raised in Vancouver. In 1956 she graduated first in her University of British Columbia law class and was awarded the Law Society's gold medal.
The pursuit of legal excellence continued to be a constant thread winding through her busy life and in 1983 she was appointed Queen's Counsel, respected by colleagues and known for her mastery of the law.
Beyond this and meritorious on its own, is her leadership and sustained service to her community of Kelowna and her province over four decades. She has contributed her wise counsel, diplomacy, and remarkable common sense to a long and eclectic list of organizations ranging from public and post-secondary education, and health care, to heritage foundations, libraries and atheletics.
Rendina Hamilton is currectly the B.C. director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, commissioner of the B.C. Financial Institutions Commission, chancellor of the Diocese of Kootenay, on the national executive council of the Anglican Church of Canada, and on the B.C. Tel Board of Directors.
In addition, she continues to share her talent and energy with community organizations, including the Canadian Federation of University Women, Kelowna Friends of the Library and Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
Rendina Hamilton's pursuit of truth and fairness has served her well in her career and in her dedication to others.Return to Table of Contents
Lucille Johnstone enhances the lives of British Columbians in public and in private ways: whether volunteering, in a corporate boardroom or providing a meal to a less-fortunate stranger.
Born and raised in Vancouver, she is currently the Chief Executive Office and Chair of Integrated Ferry Corporation, where the B.C. Super Ferry - the largest ship ever to be built in B.C. - was constructed. Before that Lucille Johnstone was President of the RivTow Group, in a career that spanned 45 years.
Her involvement in charitable organizations would be admirable even for someone with extensive time to share.
This includes present or past roles as chair of the Kwantlen College Fund Drive, Founding Director and Chair of Sexual Abuse Recovery Anonymous, and member of the Pacific Advisory Regional Council of Fisheries and Oceans.
In addition, Lucille Johnstone is or has been on the board of directors of numerous organizations that include Grace Hospital, Vancouver International Airport Authority, Expo '86, B.C. Place Ltd., and the Vancouver Board of Trade, to name only a few.
Lucille Johnstone is the recipient of the YWCA Woman of the Year Award and holds an honorary doctorate from U.B.C.
In addition to the big picture of community service and business acumen, Lucille Johnstone is fondly known by many for the pearls of individual kindness she so generously casts about her.Return to Table of Contents
Born in New York, Peter Lester adopted Prince Rupert as his home when the end of the Second World War saw him serving with the American Army.
Fortunately for Prince Rupert, he decided to stay. Since 1946 he has pursued a multi-faceted career that included being a construction worker, customs officer and union president and since 1981 owner-manager of a travel agency. Elected as a council member in 1955, he then went on to become mayor in 1958.
Thirty-five years later he retired from that post, having won re-election every two years since - a record length of terms for British Columbia and second to only one other in Canada.
This impressive legacy of community leadership is in itself a testimony to Peter Lester's popularity with the people. During 3½ decades of public service, his innovative ways were instrumental in many key events in the city's history.
These include the building of a modern hospital and having Prince Rupert designated the southern terminum of the Alaska Marine Highway, a huge boost to the tourism industry resulting in thousands of tourists visiting the city en route to Alaska.
Peter Lester's history of commitment to his community sets more than a record for the province - it sets a fine example for others to follow.Return to Table of Contents
For more than 20 years, Sophie Pierre has been the leader of the Ktunaxa Nation and a dedicated director of First Nations developments throughout B.C. and Canada.
Born in Cranbrook, she obtained a business administration diploma from Camosun College. As chief of the St. Mary's Indian Band of the Ktunaxa Nation for the past 12 years, Sophie Pierre has demonstrated a deep and inspiring respect for the human being, translated into action on an impressive list of organizations.
Her efforts and skills, highly effective in political and business arenas, extend to other areas essential to strong community life; sports, recreation, youth, education, women's advocacy, family mediation, and support for the elderly.
Sophie Pierre is currently co-chair of the First Nations Summit. She is a board member for Canada World Youth and for the Suzuki Institute, and is the chair of the Ktunaxa Independent School System.
Past boards she has served on include the Canadian Heritage Rivers Advisory Committee, and the UNESCO-sponsored "Decade for Culture" project. She was chair of the 1986 B.C. Summer Games cultural and special events committee, and the B.C. representative in the Canadian Consultive Council on Multiculturalism.
Sophie Pierre's actions are recognized by her colleagues and others as resulting in a much improved quality of life and widened horizons for the Ktunaxa Nation and Kinbasket People and indeed, for First Nations throughout Canada.Return to Table of Contents
Bill Reid ranks among Canada's finest artists, past or present. His works - finely crafted gold, platinum, silver, argillite, bronze, cedar, or ink on paper - are results of a diverse and magnificent talent, treasured by devoted collectors world-wide.
Bill Reid was born in Victoria, the son of a German-Scots-American father and a Haida mother. For 16 years he worked in broadcast journalism, including 10 years with CBC radio.
But the call to create was too strong to ignore. In 1951 he returned to the West Coast from Toronto, embarking on a creative journey lined with stunning jewelry, silkscreen prints, imposing totem poles, and massive monumental scultures like "Killerwhale", which greets Vancouver Aquarium visitors, "The Raven and the First Men", at the UBC Museum of Anthropology and the "Spirit of Haida Gwaii" gracing the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
Bill Reid is often compared to The Raven of Haida legend, a mythical creature whose actions brought about significant changes to the world around him.
Today his art is in public and private collections around the world. Five Canadian universities have conferred honorary doctoral degrees on him and in 1986 he received the Bronfman Award for Excellence in the Crafts, and became an Officer of the Order of Canada.
In literally re-creating the art of the past, Bill Reid has shared with us the complex forms of his ancestors in a style proven truly outstanding in the art world.Return to Table of Contents
Throughout his distinguished career, William Saywell has tirelessly promoted British Columbia both at an educational level and on an international scale.
Raised in Lake Cowichan, William Saywell completed his doctorate at the University of Toronto, majoring in 20th Century Chinese affairs.
He has lived and travelled throughout East Asia including a one-year posting as First Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing. He has written and lectured extensively on such topics as Chinese history and current Chinese political, economic, foreign and military affairs.
Upon his return to the University of Toronto, he held a number of senior administrative posts including Vice-Provost and Chair of the Department of Asian Studies.
In 1983 he was offered the presidency of Simon Fraser University, serving two highly successful five-year terms. Under his leadership, the university grew by 40 per cent and he headed a $65-million fundraising drive.
In 1993, William Saywell was named president and chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific Foundation, an independent organization which orients Canadian businesses to opportunities in the Pacific Rim. In addition he serves on a number of boards including Westcoast Energy, and SPAR Aerospace Ltd. He is currently chair of the Canadian National Committee of Pacific Economic Cooperation.Return to Table of Contents
Physician and researcher Dr. Martin Schecter has made renowned contributions to the fields of AIDS research, prevention and care.
When Martin Schechter first began his work on AIDS research in 1983, there were no reported cases yet in B.C. He embraced the necessity of an appropriate and humane response to HIV infection at a time when it was not popular to do so.
In 1989, he helped organize the Fifth International Conference on AIDS which attracted 12,000 delegates from around the world. In 1990, Dr. Schecter was one of only 10 people worldwide invited by the World Health Organization Global Program in AIDS to sit on its Steering Committee on Epidemiology, Forecasting and Surveillance.
Matin Schecter co-founded the Canadian HIV Trials Network, which undertakes clinical trials of promising new therapies, and now has five regional offices and 25 satellites across Canada.
He is the author of more than 100 articles in scientific journals and has attracted more than $19 million in research grants to B.C. He is one of only two Canadians awarded the National Health Scientist Aware in AIDS by Health and Welfare Canada.
Martin Schecter continues to be instrumental in pioneering landmark achievements in AIDS research which have benefitted not only British Columbians but people around the world.Return to Table of Contents
Unfortunately Michael Smith cannot be with us this afternoon. At this very moment he is flying to Las Vegas to receive the American Academy of Achievement's "Golden Plate Award;" a prior commitment. Dr. Smith will be invested into the Order next year. I will now read his citation.
Nobel Prize winner Michael Smith is a professor of Biochemistry at the University of British Columbia and director of UBC's Biotechnology Laboratory. Born and educated in England, he has been with UBC since 1966.
Michael Smith serves as scientific leader of the UBC-based Protein Engineering Network Cnetre of Excellence, part of the federal program created to encourage scientific research. The genetic process he pioneered has opened doors for researchers in laboratories around the world, leading to discoveries in a whole range of initiatives. His techniques are being used to help wage molecular warfare on cancer cells, to try to create faster-growing crops and to engineer synthetic blood products.
Despite his impressive achievements, his admirers note that he is open, approachable and generous with his time, talent and knowledge. He believes scientists have a responsibility to explain what they're doing and why it matters, in terms we can all understand.
Michael Smith has put his $500,000 Nobel prize money into an endowment fund for outreach programs to boost awareness of science and for research into schizophrenia.
Through his life's work Michael Smith has distinguished both himself and B.C.'s science and technology community.Return to Table of Contents
Born in Russia, Morris Wosk moved to British Columbia in 1928. His hard work and strict adherance to honesty, fairness and respect for all, earned him success in business, a success he shared widely with the people of B.C.
Over the years, Morris Wosk has become known internationally as a philanthropist, community leader and founder of many civic programs, not only in B.C. and Canada but in the U.S. and Israel.
During more than six decades as an owner of retail furniture stores, hotels, and as a developer in Vancouver, he has given generously of his time, energy and financial support to a wide cross-section of his community.
His support has encompassed education, youth health care, culture and science. His dedication to British Columbians is illustrated by the fact that he has never invested or developed outside of the province.
In 1980 he was the third Canadian ever to be honoured with the Prime Minister's Medal of State of Israel, and in 1985 he received the Human Relations Award from the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews. Last year he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
There can't be many British Columbians the equal of Morris Wosk as a philanthropist... with the growth of his wealth, there has also grown a sense of responsibility, and a genuine desire to help mankind.
[ Return to Table of Contents | The OBC Menu ]