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Vancouver philanthropists, activists and inventors recipients of Order of B.C.

Eleven of the 16 recipients of the Order of British Columbia come from Vancouver
Order of BC
The recipients were awarded the Order of BC by Lt. Gov. Janet Austin on Monday, Aug. 2. Recipients included Dr. Bonnie Henry and Joe Average of Vancouver.

It’s no secret that Vancouverites are great but the sheer amount of locals who received the province’s top honour only serves to solidify that fact. 

Earlier this week, 16 exceptional people were appointed to the Order of British Columbia by Lt. Gov. Janet Austin. Among them was B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry from Victoria, Dr. Debra Braithwaite also of Victoria, Chief Joe Alphonse of the Tsilhqot’in Nation, Brenda Baptiste of Osoyoos and Andrew Petter, CM, QC, of Victoria. The other 11 recipients are all from Metro Vancouver.

The bios for each recipient have been shortened in the interest of brevity. To read the full write-ups feel free to visit the Province of B.C.’s website.

Joe Average

Joe Average, born Brock David Tebbutt, has been an important contributor to the B.C., Canadian and international art scene for over 30 years. In the mid-980s Average was diagnosed with HIV and given an uncertain life expectancy which moved him to focus exclusively on his art.

His art has captured the interest of international art critics, royalty and celebrities while remaining accessible and meaningful to local collectors and supporters. Average’s work has been described as “a visionary kaleidoscope of colour, creativity and compassion” and has come to symbolize love and inclusivity.

Average’s commitment to raising awareness for HIV/AIDS was evident throughout the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, as sales of masks featuring his most iconic images raised $10,000 for BC Children’s Hospital.

Frances Belzberg 

Since arriving in B.C. over 40 years ago, Frances Belzberg has championed numerous causes, from health care and medical research to education and nurturing the next generation of Canadian leaders. Now in her mid-90s, Frances’ commitment remains unwavering.

In 1976, Belzberg co-founded the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF), with the mission to advance research, promote awareness and support the well-being of those affected by the disease. Dr. Anthony Lang, OC, chair for Parkinson’s research at the University of Toronto explains that “[the] establishment of the DMRF essentially revolutionized the field” and that “Frances has been an active driver and supporter of the work of the foundation.” 

In the early 1990s, Belzberg was instrumental in the establishment of the Think Aids Society to advance research and funding, and raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. In 2003, the Government of Canada partnered with the Belzberg Family to create Action Canada, a joint initiative to inspire and support young Canadians and future public policy influencers.

Ajay Dilawri 

Ajay and his brothers Kap and Tony are the founders of the Dilawri Group - the largest automotive group in Canada, with more than 4,000 employees and 76 automotive dealerships across Canada. With 24 dealerships in B.C. alone, he supports more than 2,000 employees and their families in his home province. His significant investment in electrical vehicle development is also helping address climate change and contributes to a greener economy.

The Dilawri Foundation has donated tens of millions of dollars to help charitable causes in health care, mental health, education, autism, and public safety.

Debra Doucette (North Vancouver)

On her path to becoming president and CEO of B.C.-based investment firm Odlum Brown, Debra Doucette has been a pioneer in a traditionally male-dominated industry. In 2007, she became the first female leader in the firm’s then 84-year history, after serving as chief operating officer for seven years.

Her mentorship has been invaluable to individuals throughout B.C., through endeavours such as Minerva’s CEO for a Day program and her work with the UBC Sauder School of Business faculty advisory board. 

In 2020, Doucette’s steadfast leadership saw her investment firm Odlum Brown through the COVID-19 crisis and made no layoffs. She also continued to be an inspirational leader in the business community, participating in industry roundtable discussions and being interviewed on a national scale about leading an investment firm through the pandemic.

Carol A. Lee

Carole Anne Lee is the chair of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, a registered charity she co-founded in 2011. The Chinatown Foundation is committed to the cultural, economic, and physical revitalization of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown. Projects Lee has spearheaded focus on creating a lasting positive impact such as affordable housing, seniors housing, and cultural and economic development. 

These initiatives include 58 West Hastings, a social housing project located in the Downtown Eastside that will provide 231 new homes and a 4,645 square-metre (50,000-square foot) healthcare centre that will serve the entire community.

During COVID-19, under her leadership, the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation launched an Economic Recovery program, which helped businesses apply for COVID-19 support programs by connecting businesses with financial institutions and government agencies. 

James McEwen 

Jim McEwen, a B.C.-based biomedical engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, mentor and volunteer, revolutionized one aspect of medicine through his invention of the automatic surgical tourniquet, a medical device that has significantly improved surgical safety, quality and efficiency around the world.

An engineer and adjunct professor in UBC’s school of biomedical engineering, he has led and founded many successful companies and organizations. One of which is the Medical Device Development Centre, a not-for-profit that helps to create new medical technologies.

The widespread adoption of McEwen’s tourniquet technologies has significantly improved surgical safety, quality and economy. The idea for an automatic tourniquet arose in the late 1970s after McEwen learned of a patient at Vancouver General Hospital who was injured by a conventional tourniquet during surgery. Four decades later, the tourniquets created by McEwen and his team have been used in more than 80 million surgical procedures worldwide — nearly 20,000 every day.

Dolph Schluter

Dr. Dolph Schluter is the world’s foremost authority on the role that ecology plays in the origin and divergence of new species. His work has fundamentally changed our understanding of evolution, revealing the ecological mechanisms driving speciation and probing the factors generating and maintaining biodiversity. 

Using stickleback fishes from B.C., Schluter gathered evidence to answer one of biology’s great mysteries: how genetic changes in one group of organisms can create an entirely new species. 

Schluter has also contributed his knowledge to help conserve freshwater fish in B.C., particularly by helping draft the recovery strategy for sticklebacks and co-developing guidelines to protect these and other endangered fishes in the province. 

Dr. Poul Sorensen

Dr. Poul Sorensen, a professor of pathology at the University of British Columbia, has dedicated his career to understanding the biological underpinnings of childhood cancers. His work has resulted in the discovery of many different genetic alterations in human cancers, most notably a novel type of genomic alteration which causes various childhood cancers.

His discovery led to the development of new treatments for patients and on July 10, 2019, a drug developed using Sorensen’s research, was approved by Health Canada. Under the brand name VITRAKVI, the drug has already had a positive impact on Canadian patients.

The mother of the boy with thyroid cancer describes the impact of Sorensen's work in a Sept 29, 2019 CBC article, “You have given us the greatest gift. Every new day that we get to spend together as a family, making more memories, it's because of you and your research."

Arran and Ratana Stephens

Arran and Ratana Stephens are the co-founders and co-owners of Nature’s Path, a family-owned and operated enterprise based in Richmond and one of the world’s leaders in organic food manufacturing and distributing companies. They began with a modest restaurant that was started with Arran’s $7 and a $1,500 loan. Today their business, built on the philosophy of ethical business practice, sustainability, altruism and employing 650 people, sells products in 50 countries.

The couple has served B.C. by working with many institutions, charities and non-governmental organizations. Between personal donations and the charitable contributions of their company, they have donated over $40 million to support worthy causes in B.C., the rest of Canada and internationally. 

Many institutions have benefited from their philanthropy including the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Vancouver General Hospital, B.C. Children’s Hospital, and Greater Vancouver Foodbank. 

Marvin Storrow

Apart from his extraordinary achievements at the Supreme Court of Canada, Marvin Storrow is a senior litigation partner practicing a diverse realm of law. An ardent author and speaker, he contributes greatly to the knowledge of a wide range of legal matters and concerns.

A community leader, Storrow continues to volunteer and offer services pro bono. He and his family support educational endowments for First Nations people and other learners at several post-secondary institutions. Storrow's milestone cases and judgments remain highly studied and quoted foundational references for constitutional protection to Aboriginal rights. 

Sparrow (1990) was the first case to consider the scope of protection accorded to Aboriginal rights under the Constitution Act, 1982.