Leona Alleslev

Your member of parliament for

Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill

Leona Alleslev

Your member of parliament for

Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill


Canada 150 Citizenship Award Recipients!

In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, I had the sincere privilege to honour citizens that have exemplified outstanding dedication to the advancement of our community, and to Canada, with a Canada 150 Citizenship Award. The recipients were awarded in three categories as they represent Canada’s commitment to Innovation & Discovery, Reflection of our Canadian Values, and Thought Leadership. The fourteen award recipients are youth, adults, and seniors who have exemplified remarkable leadership in our community and all contributed to something bigger than themselves.

In this year of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, we unite as Canadians to imagine a vision – a big, bold vision – of what our country can become. The Canada 150 Citizenship Award winners have committed themselves to this vision by dreaming boldly through projects that will position our nation for continued success for the next 150 years.

I invite you to learn more about our fourteen recipients and their remarkable contributions below!

Innovation & Discovery

Recipients of the Canada 150 Citizenship Award for Discovery and Innovation have exemplified outstanding commitment to fostering innovation and contributed to the advancement of Canada through science and technology.

C150 Global Odyssey

Pictured (from left to right): Robert “Dugal” MacDuff, Steve  and Bob Dengler complete the last leg of the their circumnavigation of the world in a Bell 429 Helicopter as they fly from Buttonville Airport in Toronto to Montreal and back to Bolton, ON,   Aug. 17, 2017.

Bob, his son Steven, and their partner, helicopter ace Rob ‘Dugal’ MacDuff successfully completed the world’s first Canadian around-the-world helicopter flight AND the first ever father-son global circumnavigation in honour of Canada 150. The team flew a Canadian-made Bell 429 Global Ranger helicopter over 38,000 km in just over one month. Starting in Ottawa on July 1st, 2017, Bob, Steven and Dugal visited more than 100 airports in 14 countries as they travelled the world. Not only did the Denglers and Mr. MacDuff do something that has never been done before, but they also they raised funds for the Southlake Foundation, where Bob received treatment when he was diagnosed with cancer, as well as True Patriot Love, a charity that supports military veterans and their families during their trip.

Learn more about their trip at www.c150go.ca

Dr. Jan Oudenes

Dr. Jan Oudenes holds an M.Sc, a Ph.D. and undertook postdoctoral studies for pre-biotic origin of life in Zurich, Switzerland.

In 1983, Dr. Oudenes joined Torcan Chemic (now Piramal Healthcare) in Aurora, Ontario. Under his leadership, Torcan Chemical became an internationally recognized leader in the field of contract research, development and manufacturing of pharmaceutical to deliver new drug therapies to patients. At the time he also developed chemical technology equipment (Aurora Filter) which has found applications in pilot plants across the globe. In 2003, Dr. Oudenes started Alphora Research Inc. from concept with the goal to develop process technology for novel pharmaceutical molecular structures which are exceptionally difficult to manufacture commercially. Alphora has grown from concept to approximately 140 scientists, engineers and technical personnel in 2017 when it was purchased by a large international company to ensure Alphora’s sustainability.  Dr. Oudenes is particularly proud of having established several successful companies, which are technologically driven, export oriented and which continue to provide large numbers of highly qualified science related jobs to Canadians.

Learn more about Alphora Research Inc. here: https://www.alphoraresearch.com/

Kayley Ting

Kayley Ting is a Grade 12 student at The Academy for Gifted Children- P.A.C.E. She is passionate about scientific inquiry, research, and the intersections found between the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or STEM. Over the past few years, Kayley has been volunteering with individuals with autism in her community, and cherishes spending time learning and sharing experiences with them. Through her volunteer work, Kayley recognized that a challenge for those with Autism is coping with sensory overload, so she researched a solution and presented her research project “Analysis of Electrodermal Activity to Quantify Stress Levels in Autism” at the Prime Minister’s Science Fair. Her project creates a wearable device that identifies the causes of sensory overload to help individuals with Autism prevent future occurrences and strengthen their independence. Kayley continues to advocate for social inclusivity for those with Autism, and aims to reduce barriers and promote richly diverse and caring communities so they continue to thrive.

Learn more about Kayley’s project at the Prime Minister’s Science Fair here: https://www.youthscience.ca/news/prime-minister-welcomes-top-young-scientists-parliament-hill 

The Classy Cyborgs

The Classy Cyborgs are a team of 10 young inventors ages 13 – 15 who are on a mission to help improve Braille literacy for visually impaired children. In 2014, the group came together at their elementary school as a FIRST LEGO League team, which is a global program that encourage students to research real-world problems and develop a solution.Through research, they discovered that in Canada, 90% of the blind population cannot read Braille, access to learning Braille is limited, and current tools for teaching Braille are outdated. They also discovered that there are many computer learning products for sighted children, but none are accessible for the visually impaired. The students saw this issue and developed solution – the Treasure Box Braille Learning System a program which pairs computer software with an external Brailler to teach the alphabet and basic math to blind children. The group has won several national and international awards for their prototype, which has allowed them to collaborate with York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering. Because the students have taken the project as far as they can, the Classy Cyborgs have donated the program to York University, who will further develop the hardware and software, and carry it to manufacturing to soon help many learn Braille across Canada.

Find out more about the Treasure Box Braille Learning System at https://www.classycyborgs.org/

Learn more about the Classy Cyborg’s team below:

Vera Cotturo is  age 14 and a grade 9 student of Aurora High School’s French Immersion Program. As a member of the Classy Cyborgs Team, she is in charge of  research  relating to the blind and partially blind children in the world and availability of all types of resources  for  them, like literacy.  She is hoping to enter the medical  field in the future.


 James Andrade is 14 years old and attends Aurora High School. He represented the Classy Cyborgs as a speaker at the Global EdTech Awards in Boston and at the Canadian Scholarship Trust Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.


Sammy Emamian is currently going through grade 9 IB courses. His interests include video games, science and technology. He wishes to either get into a STEM field, or into medical work when he is older. Sammy joined the Classy Cyborgs in grade 6. Ever since then he has been thinking about what he will do in the future to aid humanity for a brighter tomorrow.


Sean Lloyd is a Grade 9 student at Aurora High School.  For the past 3 years he has developed and grown as part of the Classy Cyborgs team, while fostering a desire to help the low-vision community.


Disha Prashar is currently a grade 11 IB student at Bayview Secondary School who is a committed individual striving to help improve the way that blind children learn to read Braille.




Sebastian Villate graduated from Lester B Pearson PS where he joined the Classy Cyborgs in grade seven. Three years later he is now in grade 10 at Aurora high school and remains an active member of the Classy Cyborgs while also balancing this with his passion for music.

Logan Maier is a grade 11 French Immersion student at Aurora High School. He has an interest in math, music, science and computers.  He has participated in First Lego League competitions as part of the Classy Cyborgs team which has led to their Treasure Box Braille innovation.


 Isabel Neufeld has been an active member of the Classy Cyborgs since its inception in 2014, and acts as the team’s head of design. At 16, she is a musician and an artist, in addition to harbouring dreams of a career in neuroscience. She’s a member of her school’s concert band as a flutist. Her experience with the Classy Cyborgs has been excellent from the get-go, learning all kinds of important skills for careers later on, such as creating business plans, pitching to those interested in the project, and speaking in large-scale public events.

Jenna Pezzack is a grade 11 student at Aurora High School, a member of the Classy Cyborg’s team and is currently working as a Co-Op student with the PiET Lab at York University helping the Enamel Team to develop the next version of the Treasure Box Braille Learning System. Jenna has represented the Classy Cyborgs as a media spokesperson for various media companies such as CTV News and has also been apart of various panels such as the DMZ Ryerson Gen Z Youth Entrepreneur Panel.


Rhys Binnie is currently attending Grade 11 at Aurora High School and is looking forward to pursuing a career in engineering, architecture or one of the computer sciences upon matriculation.




 Reflection of Canadian Values

Recipients of the Canada 150 Citizenship Award for Reflection of Canadian Values have exemplified outstanding commitment to upholding the important Canadian values of diversity, inclusion and compassion through their dedication to enrich the lives of many while strengthening ties in our local communities.

James Wai-Hing Hui

Mr. Hui has been an extraordinary leader in his community. He has provided over thirty-four years of service to the Scarborough Senior Chinese Association, and has held different supportive administrative positions including President, Treasurer and Association Secretary. As a former immigrant himself, Mr. Hui has worked tirelessly to ensure newcomers to Canada seeking comfort and inclusion receive important services as they make Canada their new home. He has founded and initiated several service organizations including the Outreach Senior Caring Program, English as a Second Language and Citizenship Classes, the Toronto Chinese Soccer Association, and the Hong Kong Tourist Industry Toronto Association. He doesn’t look it, but Mr. Hui is soon approaching his 100th birthday, and he continues to work tirelessly to help others in his senior years.  As a proud Canadian, Mr. Hui has made, and continues to make, valuable contributions to his community and his country.

 Jim Chapman

Mr. Chapman has dedicated over 40 years of his life to volunteering his time and abilities to many organizations that make our community great.

Among many of his volunteering activities, some highlights include volunteering with clerical support at the Canadian Mental Health Association in York Region, Epilepsy York Region, and Canadian Red Cross, his committee work at the North York YMCA, delivering meals to seniors for meals on Wheels at the Don Mills Seniors Foundation and helping out in the Don Valley Jr. High School’s library for 10 years. He is also a regular volunteer in MP Alleslev’s office and helps us put together special Certificates to congratulate those in the riding who have just received their Canadian Citizenship. Throughout his many volunteer experiences, Jim has received several awards from some of these organizations for his commitment to outstanding volunteer service. Jim is always demonstrating his willingness to help others, and has exemplified outstanding dedication to help our local organizations continue to help others.

Razak Damani

Razak Damani is a strong, and dedicated leader in our community. As the former President of the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) of Toronto, Razak served two terms that culminated in the construction of a new multi-purpose community centre and mosque, the Jaffari Community Centre, that is now the home to one of Ontario’s top schools. Mr. Damani is also a relentless advocate for people in need, and has contributed substantially to the resettlement of Syrian and Yemeni refugees. Currently, he is the President of NASIMCO, a North American umbrella organization that supports community development and relief work internationally. Razak also spends his time volunteering at local food banks. He has made incredible contributions to our local community and abroad, and has exemplified outstanding dedication to ensure our important Canadian values of diversity, inclusion and compassion are maintained.

Hamida Merchant

Born and raised in East Africa, Hamida was one of 6 children. She grew up in a small town called Arusha and did her secondary education in Moshi which is at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. After this she relocated to the bustling city of Dar Es Salaam. From a young age she enjoyed charitable work. She taught students and volunteered at local homes for widows and orphans. In 1981, Hamida stumbled upon an opportunity to migrate to Toronto, Canada. Not knowing what to expect but hoping for a better future, she packed her bags and moved to the great white north. Soon after arriving Hamida met her wonderful husband Inayat and were married in 1985. They have two beautiful children together, Alia and Ali. Alia is working as an Eye Doctor residing in Edmonton, Alberta and Ali is a Chartered Accountant working in New York City.In 1999, Ja’Fari Islamic Housing Corporation also known as Crescent Village was looking for a property manager. Hamida had some experience working in the field of property management and was excited to have the opportunity to work for a non profit housing corporation. Throughout her years working for Crescent Village, Hamida has been not only a property manager but a listening ear for all of those in need. Her main focus was to empower and help the residents of the Crescent Village towards a better and brighter future. Looking at all the achievements that she has obtained, it is evident she has succeeded in making this dream come true. With a focus on women fleeing domestic violence, youth and seniors; Hamida has been able to secure funding and run some amazing programs to better serve the residents of a Crescent Village. Her main goal and aim in life is to ensure that all those that are underprivileged are given the opportunity to succeed. Her extremely supportive board of directors and capable assistants make this dream a reality.

Rosemary Park

For the past 21 years, Rosemary Park has worked as a full-time community volunteer. She is the Founder of three non-profit organizations including Information Aurora and CIVICYork services, plus Founder of the Aurora Community Fund and York Region Community Foundation. Through CIVICYork, Rosemary has established an online hub for residents to connect with important programs and services as well as provide up to date information on current events in the community. Check it out here! https://civicyork.ca/ 

Rosemary also works tirelessly to ensure local youth have opportunities to build their skillsets to be successful leaders in the community through her work at CivicYork. Most recently, began a Community Reporting initiative that gives local youth the opportunity to participate in local events and develop their journalism skills by reporting on the event. Rosemary has served on three other Charitable Organizations’ Boards of Directors and six national, provincial, or regional government panels. Rosemary has recently been appointed to Canada’s National Volunteer Awards Advisory Committee to recognize national, community, emerging business and social innovators making a difference in their communities.

Thought Leadership

Recipients of the Canada 150 Citizenship Award for Thought Leadership have exemplified outstanding commitment to innovative thinking and contributed their skills to further the intellectual capital of Canada.

Howard Doughty

Howard A. Doughty has been a post-secondary teacher for 48 years at Seneca College and has been an Adjunct Professor at the College of International Studies and at Hawai’i Pacific University in Honolulu. Among his many accomplishments, Howard has published over 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals and eight high school text books in Canadian studies. He has also created and/or co-wrote, organized, and researched simulation games for Ontario middle school Science courses, the National Model UN, and the Canadian Peace Research Institution. Howard has presented over 100 academic papers and keynote addresses at professional conferences, with his principal interest in the theory and practice of democracy, especially as it relates to education. He has also been an active volunteer in our community, and has dedicated his time to the Board of Trustees of the Richmond Hill Library, a member of Community Links, is an active member of Save The Oak Ridges Moraine, and has devoted countless hours and advocacy to his faculty union. Mr. Doughty has devoted his life as an educator, a policy advocate, a community activist, and a public speaker on science and technology, democracy and social reform. He has dedicated himself to moulding young minds, and as his daughter Alexandra said, he has instilled in her, and many others, the love of learning.

Sean Cisterna

Sean Cisterna is an award-winning feature film director from Oak Ridges. His films have been screened at festivals around the world. Sean directed the critically acclaimed youth cancer drama Kiss and Cry (2017), starring Sarah Fisher and Chantal Kreviazuk, which topped the English-Canadian box office upon its release, and is currently one of Netflix’s most popular films. Kiss and Cry is currently screening on the international festival circuit, as well, opening the Seoul International Youth Film Festival in South Korea. Sean’s 2015 project Full Out, starring the iconic Jennifer Beals, is a feature film based on the true story of gymnast Ariana Berlin, also on Netflix, as well as NBC in the U.S. and Disney Europe.  On the television side, Sean is working with TLN Television/Corus Entertainment on the new preschool series My Name is Ripley, to be broadcast nationally in 2018. Sean shoots many of his projects locally and incorporates local actors, crew, businesses and locations into his productions.

Olivia Railton

Olivia Railton is an Aurora resident who graduated from The Country Day School in June 2017. Olivia  has competed in debating and public speaking events across Canada, in the US, Hong Kong, and Australia. She is a Canadian champion, as well as a past and current International and World Champion in both debating and public speaking. Most recently, Olivia took 1st place at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships. Olivia also enjoys sports, and is passionate about music. She plays piano, various guitars and enjoys singing. She has performed at Aurora Unplugged, Porchfest and the Aurora Winter Blues Festival. Currently, Olivia is attending the University of Oxford in England working towards a four-year B.A. Jurisprudence in Law and is a member of the Oxford Union Debating Society. Olivia began debating and public speaking at a young age and has worked tirelessly to excel in this field. Not only has she been able to communicate different perspectives on various topics and educate others, but she has also inspired young girls in our community to work hard to achieve excellence in what they are passionate about.

Robin Morrison-Claus & Stephen Lanning

Robin Morrison-Claus, teacher-librarian and Stephen Lanning, science and physical education teacher at Regency Acres Public School, created a classroom sized Makerspace as part of the library to encourage their students to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) initiatives into their daily learning. Both teachers saw a need for the students to engage in hands on learning and have more opportunities to develop their critical thinking skills.  The space provides STEAM learning opportunities that allows students to explore their critical thinking skills, introduces them to real world problem solving scenarios. Robin and Stephen are currently organizing a full day STEAM Conference so students can further explore these subject areas as they relate to their everyday world and future career possibilities.

Many thanks to all award recipients for the wonderful work they do for our community, and for our country.