This year’s theme for National Volunteer Week, which ran from April 16 to 22, is volunteering weaves us together. The theme highlights the importance of interconnecting by volunteering.
Volunteer week is also an opportunity to celebrate SunCares Changemakers—Suncor employees who go above and beyond in their community, volunteering their expertise, time and financial contributions in a meaningful way throughout the year. Each Changemaker is able to name a community organization of choice to receive a one-time donation of $20,000 from Suncor or the Suncor Energy Foundation.
Here are your 2023 SunCares Changemakers!
Sergii Melnikov, Fort McMurray, Alta.
Where Sergii’s donation went:
- $20,000 to the Ukrainian Catholic University
Sergii has been a dedicated volunteer for years, and when his community of Fort McMurray needs support, he’s the first one to step up. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Sergii made a significant donation to organizations in Ukraine to support the people defending the country. Sergii also supported the formation of YMM Stands with Ukraine committee, a partnership between the Ukrainian Cultural Society and the Oil Sands Rotary Club of Fort McMurray. He has helped over 100 newcomers to the Wood Buffalo area settle into their new community, while also hosting a Ukrainian family since March 2022.
Christie Courtland Joseph, Calgary, Alta.
Where Christie’s donation went:
- $20,000 to Girl Guides of Canada, Alberta Council, Calgary Chapter
Christie volunteers many hours as a Deputy Area Commissioner in Calgary with Girls Guides Canada and is a leader of her own unit. Over the years, Christie has instilled confidence and competence within Guiders and youth. Christie has organized fundraising opportunities to ensure units in Calgary have the funds to engage in learning opportunities, and taken youth on trips to Switzerland and Vancouver Island to hike a portion of the West Coast Trail. Closer to home, Christie organizes camping weekends where she facilitates backpacking and canoeing skill development. Christie is also evaluating existing processes and facilitating feedback sessions with guiders and District Commissioners to set up the organization for the future.
Linda (Jinling) Xiang, Calgary, Alt.
Where Linda’s donation went:
- $20,000 Western Canada Hubei Association
Linda is the Chair and President of the Western Canada Hubei Association (WCHA), which provides the Hubei community in Western Canada a space to celebrate their culture, connect with one another and access resources and support. Through the WCHA, Linda offers mentorship to students and new grads and organizes virtual lunch and learns for the broader WCHA community. During the pandemic, Linda also helped raise funds to purchase and donate medical supplies to front-line medical staff in Wuhan, China, and distributed food to members of the Calgary Chinese Community. Earlier this year, Linda received a Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal in recognition of her commitment to community.
Michael Vickers, Fort McMurray, Alta.
Where Mike’s donation went:
- $5,000 to Canadian Mental Health Association
- $15,000 to St. Aidan’s Society
Mike is an avid volunteer in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo who supports seniors through St. Aidan’s Society, provides training and mentoring for umpires throughout the baseball season, and volunteers on the board of directors at the United Way of Fort McMurray and the Canadian Mental Health Association Wood Buffalo chapter. He often finds ways to bridge Suncor and community through organizing slo-pitch fundraising events and talking about mental health within Suncor.
Deborah (kâkike manitohkân iskwew) Green, Calgary, Alta.
Where Deb’s donation went:
- $7,000 to Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society
- $7,000 to Be the Change
- $6,000 to Stardale Women’s Group
Deb is making a difference within Suncor as well as in the Calgary community and beyond. A volunteer with many organizations focused on advancing reconciliation, Deb is an Indigenous rights advocate, keynote speaker, a singer and drummer in an Indigenous matriarch’s hand drum group who have led marches, rallies and gatherings, and fosters an Indigenous women’s monthly sharing circle of over 500 Indigenous people. Deb’s efforts have made changes at all levels of government, within corporations and in the lives of those around her, including resulting in a Calgary landmark being recognized as the Field of Red Ribbons in honour of missing, murdered and exploited Indigenous people. Last year, Deb was recognized by the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth as a changemaker for the positive change she’s making in community and will be the recipient of a 2023 Esquao Award from the Native Women’s Association of Canada in May.