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We notice your work, and we appreciate it.

Part of caring for the soul of the city is recognizing when an individual or an organization does exceptional work. At City in Focus, we notice all the effort that goes into making Vancouver a vibrant community, and we appreciate it.

That’s why, each year, we recognize individuals or organizations of faith with a significant financial award which is typically donated in the recipient’s name to an organization of their choice. These awards are a tangible expression of CIF’s long legacy of encouraging and supporting people who make a significant and selfless contribution to our community.

2016 Winners


Judy Hager
Fr Garry Laboucane
David Ley
Bill MacEwan
Brian McConaghy

Anonymous Philanthropists – Both members of this couple grew up in Vancouver and studied at UBC. After a brief interlude in the United States, they moved back to the city and started a family, as well as a very successful business. Over the years they have been quiet, yet determined, philanthropists. A great joy of theirs has been to give very personally to individuals to make positive changes in their lives, particularly in the fields of education and higher education. Their balance of intimate yet strategic giving has sustained and given life to many ministries throughout Vancouver (Street Outreach Program out of St. James Church and the Boy’s Club Network), and supported numerous other worthy causes including a variety of UBC programs and Pancreas Centre BC. Their exemplary contributions to the physical, social, and spiritual well-being of Vancouver, as well as their humility, makes them the kind of philanthropists City in Focus is pleased to celebrate and acknowledge with this year’s Awards.

Reverend Garry LaBoucane – Rev. Garry, OMI, is a Métis Oblate and current Pastor of Sacred Heart and St. Paul’s Parishes in Vancouver. He grew up in Kimberly, BC and was ordained in 1984 in Lac Sante-Anne, in his home province of Alberta. Through his ministry and close involvement with Saint Kateri Tekawitha Centre, Rev. LaBoucane has made a tremendous positive impact on the spiritual and social lives of aboriginal communities in Vancouver. His work focuses on Reconciliation, healing, and the inclusion of aboriginal traditions in Christian faith and community.

Dr. David Ley  – David is a Professor of urban and social geography at UBC, where he has been based since leaving graduate school in the 1970s. His research has examined housing and neighbourhood issues in Canadian cities. Following earlier work on gentrification, a recent project examined migration by wealthy ethnic Chinese families between East Asia and Canada. His most recent book, Millionaire Migrants tells the story of this migration and its impacts. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, on the Board of Regent College, and a member of St John’s Church, Vancouver. His current research is examining housing bubbles, high housing costs with price volatility, in the global cities of Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Vancouver and London.

Dr. Bill MacEwan – Bill is Head of Psychiatry at St. Paul’s Hospital. Bill fights poverty and addiction through his outstanding work in the field of psychiatry by helping hundred of marginalized individuals access mental health resources. For the last fourteen years, he has worked in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, where he seeks to help patients at risk in the attempt to prevent emergencies that would require hospitalization. At present, he focuses on the needs of those served by the Downtown Community Court.

Brian McConaghy – Brian is the Founding Director of Ratanak International. He served as a forensic scientist with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for over two decades. For 19 of those years he performed his duties with the RCMP while setting up and running Ratanak International as a volunteer. After visiting refugee camps in Thailand in 1989, Brian then travelled into Cambodia where he witnessed conditions even worse than those in the camps.  These experiences left a deep impact and him and began his long journey of service to the Cambodia and the Khmer people. Ratanak continues to provide healthcare infrastructure, emergency food distributions, support to orphanages and schools, and – as has been their main focus in recent years – the rescue and rehabilitation of victims of sex slavery.

Julia Ruggier
Jimmy Crescenzo and Walter Mustapich
Ron Reed
Murray Neilson

Faith and Compassion: Recipient Julia Ruggier was the director of The Door is Open which has been East Van’s largest Catholic social charity for 19 years. The Door is Open provides food, clothing and a safe environment (including other support services) for those living in need in the Downtown Eastside. Julia worked tirelessly to provide more than 400 meals a day to those most struggling in our city.

Faith and Community Impact: This year’s award goes to Jimmy Crescenzo and Walter Mustapich who have made a profound impact on our city’s youth for the past 30 years through their roles as educators and, especially, by co-founding The Boys Club Network. The Boys Club Network mentors at-risk young men in the Lower Mainland through the principles of establishing connectedness, trust, education and accountability. The club offers school curriculum, outreach work and a summer camp.

Faith and the Arts: Recipient Ron Reed has made immense contributions to Vancouver’s theatre community by producing a series of more than 50 written plays and by founding Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre. Reed is a skilled actor, well known for his role as C.S. Lewis in Shadowlands. For the 2014/2015 season, Reed was nominated for 11 prestigious Jessie Awards – eight for his production of “Whipping Man.”

Faith and International Justice: This year’s award goes to Murray Neilson, chairman of International Justice Mission’s annual fundraiser. He has been instrumental in raising over $500,000 in recent years for IJM – a global organization that seeks to protect the poor in developing nations from violence. IJM works in nearly 20 communities worldwide: rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors of violence and strengthening justice systems.




Previous Winners

Julia Ruggier

Judy Graves: Throughout her 33-year career with the City of Vancouver, Judy Graves cultivated caring connections with people living on the streets and in shelters, and served as a tireless advocate on behalf of those marginalized by homelessness. Graves approached her work in a deeply personal way, walking the streets of Vancouver in all kinds of weather and at all hours of the night, reaching out to people living on the streets and listening to their stories, while helping them navigate the delicate process of rebuilding their lives.

Have you noticed a person of faith who deserved to be recognized for their long-standing work in Vancouver’s community?

Let us know.

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