Supporting Canadian Athletes

Past Recipients

2013 – Charmaine Crooks, Athletics

Natty & Charmaine Purolator Leadership AwardCharmaine is a five-time Olympian and Olympic Silver Medalist (1984, 4X400m relay) who represented Canada for close to 20 years in the sport of athletics. Charmaine’s achievements off the track however, have made the biggest impact. In 1992, she joined a small group of athletes, including Ann Peel, to discuss the creation of an independent Canadian athlete association that would endeavor to ensure the rights of athletes were upheld and to provide athletes with a voice at the decision making tables across sport. That association, today known as AthletesCAN, was founded shortly after and she joined the Board of Directors from 1994 to 1998.

After competing in Atlanta in 1996, Charmaine was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission where she played an important role in developing the IOC’s Code of Ethics. In 2006, Charmaine was presented with the IOC Women and Sport Trophy for the Americas in recognition of her efforts towards supporting gender equity in high-performance sport. In 2009, she was named BC’s Sports Personality of the Year, the first woman ever to receive this award. Charmaine has also been named to the CAAWS Most Influential Women List seven times, recognizing her accomplishments and contribution to the sector.

Charmaine is the president and founder of NGU Consultants, a sports marketing, promotion and production company that develops and creates entertainment programming and provides strategic counsel for companies and athletes on a global basis.

2012 – Mark Tewksbury, Swimming

Mark Tewksbury has an incredible list of sport achievements: He is a three-time Olympic medalist, 21-time national champion, two-time World Championship silver medalist, was named Canadian Male athlete of the year in 1992, and has been inducted into the Canadian Olympic, Sports and Aquatic Halls of Fame in addition to the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

His achievements outside of the pool however, have made the biggest impact. Tewksbury has been the master of ceremonies for the Dalai Lama, addressed human rights at the United Nations, and touched millions of people as a speaker, author and television personality. He is the Co-founder of Great Traits Inc. and OATH, co-president of the 2006 World Out Games in Montreal, Board member of Gay and Lesbian Athletics Foundation, and a strong advocate for gay rights and causes around the world. In 2009, he was inducted into Canada’s LGBT Human Rights Hall of Fame for his contributions. Most recently, his leadership was recognized when he was named Chef de Mission of the London 2012 Canadian Olympic Team where he led Canada’s athletes to a successful Olympic Games.

2011 – Michael Smith, Wrestling

“I am delighted to receive the AthletesCAN Leadership Award. It was completely unexpected, but a pleasant surprise, given the number of strong leaders we have in the sport community”, says Michael. “I really believe that it has been the work that I have done with AthletesCAN, and the players in the Canadian sport system that have helped me to become a stronger leader”, he adds.

Michael has represented athletes as the athlete advocate at all major multi-sport Games including the Olympics, Commonwealth, Pan American, and Canada Games. Most recently he was Team Leader of Team Member Support and Services for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. In 2009, Michael was appointed by the Minister of Sport to the SDRCC board. Michael is a former Board member and past President of AthletesCAN.

2010 – Nathalie Lambert, Speed Skating

After retiring from competition in 1997 she remained involved in the Olympic movement through her work on various COC committees and within the sport community. In 2001, Nathalie was inducted into the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Shortly after, her work eventually led to her role as Assistant Chef de Mission for Canada at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and culminated as Chef de Mission at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Nathalie has carried her passion for sport into motivational speaking opportunities while collaborating with several television productions, producing four fitness dance DVD’s and publishing a book on the value of fitness and physical activity.Recently, Nathalie was appointed to the International Skating Union (ISU) Short Track Technical Committee, and continues to lead off the ice as an Honorary Patron of the Arthritis Society of Quebec.

2009 – Sam Jo Small, Hockey

Sami Jo is the co-founder of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and currently sits on the Board of Directors as the Vice-Chair. As an athlete leader, she acted as the player rep of female hockey for six years, was a member of Hockey Canada’s Female Council, and the Women’s High Performance Advisory Board. She facilitated the construction of an athlete player’s agreement, and it is thanks to her hard work and dedication that women have a voice and a vote on Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors.

Sami Jo has shown an incredible capacity for volunteer leadership within Canadian sport, including her work with the CanFund, Right To Play, and the Red Shoe Club; and has done so while running the Sami Jo Small Female Hockey School, as well as committing full time to her hockey training. She has dedicated an amazing amount of her time to improving the game of hockey for people across the country and she continues to be a great role model in her sport.

2008 – Iain Brambell, Rowing

A long time member of the Canadian Rowing Team, Iain served as Rowing Canada’s athlete representative for seven years. He was elected to the position in 1999, attended his first AthletesCAN Forum in 2000 and has attended every Forum since. He was elected to the AthletesCAN Board of Directors in 2003, a position he held for four years; held an Athlete Advisory position and sat on the Board of Directors for Canadian Sport Centre Victoria; and is presently a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes Council and part of the Executive Committee.

Iain is currently the Executive Director of BC Athlete Voice, an athlete driven entity providing high-performance athletes in British Columbia with a collective voice for their needs at the provincial sport decision-making and leadership tables.

2007 – Bobby Milroy, Badminton

Off of the court, Bobby is the first ever Canadian to hold the position of president of the Badminton Players Federation. He was elected in 2004 and unanimously re-elected in 2006. Among his many successes, Bobby has increased the Federation’s membership by almost 1000 per cent, fundraised for youth badminton programs throughout the world, and in June 2007 brokered an agreement with the Badminton World Federation Council for a Policy of Gender Equality for the sport.

2006 – Beckie Scott, Cross-Country Skiing

When Beckie was a young and inexperienced athlete she attended her first athlete leadership conference put on by the athlete’s committee of the COC. Out of all the great ideas and discussions that went on that weekend, there was one single concept that made an indelible impression on her and would eventually come to shape the course of her life.

Beckie came home extremely motivated from that conference, and began that year by organizing her team to try and change the colour of her toques. Many years later Beckie was organizing again, but this time it was the world skiing community to change the way doping controls were conducted. Beckie’s motivation and inspiration to effect positive change where she could, always came back to that singular notion she had learned so many years earlier at her first athletes meeting.

2005 – Lori Johnstone, Racquetball

Representing AthletesCAN provided Lori with exposure to every nook and cranny of Canadian sport and she emerged stronger and better informed from the explorations, the struggles and the victories.

Lori has an incredible network of wonderful friends and colleagues who share a similar passion for sport and a vision for the leadership roles that athletes can and should play. The board and AGM meetings served as a rich practice field for skills that have served her well as both a volunteer and a professional. The projects provided Lori the opportunity to augment her leader’s toolkit and complimented her field of study at university.

2005 – Lilo Ljubisic, Athletics

Thank you AthletesCAN, and all of the hundreds of committed athlete friends and leaders who have made this fledgling organization become a significant leader and a true representative voice of all Canadian athletes. Thank you for giving me the invaluable opportunity to serve, to learn, to grow and to help. Through the efforts of so many, I hope you will continue to make the difference for all of us for many years to come!


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