Announcing 2012 YMCA Peace Medals Recipients

Click here for 2013 YMCA Peace Medals Information

On Thursday, November 22 2012, our inspiring group of nominees were honoured at this year’s YMCA Peace Medal awards.  And the 2012 Peace Medal recipients are…

Community Group

YMCA Calgary is proud to present the Peace Medal for Community Group to Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society.

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society works to combat increasing numbers of students attending Calgary schools without a lunch. In 2011 alone, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society delivered more than 1,500 lunches each day to over 60 schools.

In addition to providing lunches, they are also supporting many community based initiatives. These include churches, community centres, schools and individuals who want to take action and support the children in their communities.

Through the work of volunteers and a commitment to helping children and the community at large, Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society is a deserving recipient of this year’s Community Group Peace Medal.


Community Individual

YMCA Calgary is proud to present the Peace Medal for Community Individual to Bruce Johnston.

Bruce Johnston is the principal at Simon Fraser School and has been an educator for over 30 years. Bruce has been involved in youth leadership education and was the creator of one of Calgary’s first student leadership programs in 1998. His vision for student leadership also led him to create a focused citizenship event called, The My World Conference.

The My World Conference is a one day event that brings together students from many schools in Calgary with a focus on social justice and service.  Representatives from over 20 different organizations with a positive impact on their community take part in The My World Conference.

Bruce Johnston’s key focus is to always provide what is best for students and to create opportunities for youth to find their passions and make a positive change in the world both locally and globally.

We celebrate Bruce Johnston’s achievements with this award. Congratulations!


Community Youth

Ali-Faizan Virji is the recipient of the Community Youth Peace Medal.

Ali-Faizan Virji is one of the founders of Big Tree World Network, an online network dedicated to technology. Ali has engineered a vision belt called I-SEE equipped with short-range sensors that assist in the mobility and confidence of the visually impaired.  Ali’s prolific invention has potential to influence over 200 million visually impaired around the world.

This scientific research won Ali the recognition, “Youth in Motion, Canada’s Top 20 under 20 Award”.

In his short span of life, Ali’s act of giving unconditionally has generated goodwill locally and internationally.

YMCA Calgary is proud to award Ali-Faizan Virji with this 2012 Peace Medal. We congratulate Ali for making a difference and inspiring others to do the same.



The recipient of the 2012 YMCA Calgary Peace Medal for Humanitarian goes to Doctor Salim Mawani.

Dr. Salim Mawani is a retired medical physician who has dedicated his time to help in the settlement process of new immigrant families, primarily from Afghanistan. Through his own initiative, Dr. Mawani has worked extensively with hundreds of families and has helped children and youth realize their full potential.  These youth have been given the skills and confidence to succeed now and later in life.

For the past seven years, Dr. Mawani has worked tirelessly and selflessly every day in becoming a significant part of the lives of these youth and has shown amazing dedication, spirit and commitment. The results he continues to achieve with youth and their families have seen no boundaries.

Doctor Salim Mawani embodies peace and commitment to others in his everyday life. We recognize Doctor Mawani as a humanitarian and for the tremendous impact he has made on youth and our community.


International Group

YMCA Calgary is pleased to present the YMCA Peace Medal for International Group to The Strongest Oak.

The Strongest Oak has been offering support to extraordinary youth in developing nations by providing mentorship, internships and financial support. This incredible organization helps youth achieve life-changing personal, educational and professional goals that will set them on the path to success.

The Strongest Oak believes that long term peace is possible by equipping people with the skills they need to build strong communities dedicated to finding reconciliation.  They are creating long term impact by helping youth truly bring peace to their regions.

YMCA Calgary is proud to present this award to The Strongest Oak who is a living example of peace in the midst of conflict.


International Individual

The 2012 Peace Medal for International Individual goes to Sarah Kesler.

During a trip to Kenya to work with schools and orphanages, Sarah noticed the girls’ poor living conditions were impeding on their health and ability to focus on studies. Sarah began dreaming of building a dormitory that would provide a safe and healthy environment where the girls could reach their full potential. The dream became a realization when funds were raised with the support of Sarah’s family and the community. Named after an inspiring young student Sarah met along the way, Rose Cottage began construction in 2011.

With amazing dedication and compassion, Sarah believes that anything is possible if you just believe in yourself.

Thank you, Sarah Kesler, for providing a space for children to learn and grow!


International Youth

The Peace Medal for International Youth Group goes to The Legacy Corporation at Vincent Massey Jr. High.

The Legacy Corporation first began in 2004 as a class project in an attempt for students to actively learn about the value of money and hard work. The students realized that their actions could make a big difference in communities bigger than Calgary.

The Legacy Corporation has since raised tens of thousands of dollars towards humanitarian actions in local communities and in Third World Countries. The Legacy Corporation’s believe that an individual’s community is not limited by relative restrictions like walls or even borders.

This youth group is an example that no act of kindness is too small and that ambition and compassion can have a great effect on the global community.

YMCA Calgary is proud to award The Legacy Corporation with this 2012 Peace Medal.


YMCA Staff

YMCA Calgary is pleased to present the Peace Medal in the YMCA staff category to Selena Gignac.

Selena Gignac is the International Initiatives and Outreach Director at Community YMCA where she has been significantly involved in community development and the inclusion of immigrant youth. Since recognizing her passion, Selena became a representative for the Canadian Council for Refugees as a Community Mentor and is also on the Advisory Committee for Next Up Calgary, a leadership program for emerging social and environmental activists.

Selena’s passion for youth empowerment and inclusion led her to initiate Youth Space at YMCA in the Bishop McNally School where the youth have a safe and quiet place to study and a consistent support network.

Selena’s involvement within the youth and immigrant communities makes her a deserving recipient of a YMCA Peace Medal. Congratulations Selena!