Lieutenant Governor celebrates champions in mental health and addictions

October 6, 2016

EDMONTON — Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell presented the True Awards and a youth award at a ceremony at Government House on Thursday, October 6. The ceremony was hosted by the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addictions.

The True Awards and Donald S. Ethell Youth Award honor innovative and ground-breaking work being done for mental health and addictions.


The 2016 True Award recipients are: 

True Grit – Catherine Mardon (Edmonton)

Catherine was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Forestry) from Oklahoma State University, a Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from Newman University (Kansas), a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, and a Master’s of Theological Studies from Newman Theological College. Catherine is a retired attorney whose former practice included representing people who were homeless and had mental and physical disabilities.  After a near fatal attack that left her in a wheelchair for eight years, she developed PTSD. She is an author, lecturer and advocate for people with disabilities.


True Compassion – John J.F. Dowd (Edmonton)

John immigrated to Canada in 1976 from Belfast and completed a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto, which included Chaplaincy at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. He was ordained as a Minister in The Presbyterian Church in Canada and served from 1985-2006. John began work as the Chaplain for the City of Edmonton employees and their families in 2006. His work as Chaplain includes short term counseling, crisis intervention, consulting and teaching.


True Service — Aventa Centre of Excellence for Women with Addictions (Calgary)

Established in 1970, the Aventa Centre of Excellence for Women with Addictions has a long standing, distinguished reputation provincially and nationally for providing gender specific programs. The group provides evidence-based, holistic, addiction treatment services for women, with a focus on trauma-informed, concurrent capable, and residential addiction treatment services. Aventa recognizes the impact that stigma has had on women’s lives, and has developed a framework based on gender-responsive policies and practices addressing family of origin concerns, including relationships, past abuse, sexuality, self-care and interpersonal violence.


True Leadership — Nancy J. McCalder (Edmonton)

As the Executive Director at The Support Network, Nancy led a partnership with Alberta Health Services to operationalize the first peer-to-peer Wellness Network mental health support service. She also continued to reach for operational excellence for essential programs such as the 24-Hour Distress Line, Suicide Grief Support and 211. Nancy has been a leading advocate for mental health services and has made important contributions to the work of countering stigma. She has been an enthusiastic organizer of mental health awareness events such as the “Lift the Silence Suicide Awareness Week, a community-wide week of awareness activities, and “Clara’s Big Ride.”


True Imagination – SAIT Trojans (Calgary)

Make Some Noise for Mental Health is a post-secondary initiative created by the SAIT Trojans and their Trojan Outreach Program to raise awareness and reduce stigmas surrounding mental health and wellness on campus. The program intends to encourage conversation, empathy and open mindedness. The awareness campaign highlights mental health resources and support available at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) campus and in the local area. At the end of January, Make Some Noise for Mental Health is promoted at SAIT through student-led interactive activities, recreational and wellness events, and at SAIT Trojans volleyball, hockey, and basketball home games.   


The Donald S. Ethell Youth Award recipient is:

Mackenzie Murphy (Airdrie)

Mackenzie, at the age of 12, was the victim of bullying both online and in person, driving her to attempt to take her own life. Upon being discharged from Alberta’s Children Hospital she decided changes needed to be made. She successfully lobbied for an Anti-Bullying Bylaw in Airdrie that focused on the damage to the victim’s mental health. Since then, Mackenzie has become a National Public Speaker for Mental Health Awareness and is widely recognized for her work.


About the Circle

The Lieutenant Governor’s Circle is dedicated to reducing stigma related to mental illness and addiction, furthering public knowledge of the topic, and giving hope and comfort. The Circle’s message to people with mental illness or an addiction is simple: “You are not alone.”


For more Information visit


Media contact:

Dr. Glynnis Lieb, Circle Board of Directors, (780) 850-0533