Senator and longtime journalist Joan Fraser, commentator and humourist Josh Freed, and community advocate Martin Murphy were chosen as winners of QCGN’s 11th annual Sheila and Victor Goldbloom Community Service Award. Joshua Arless, a barrier-breaking school commissioner, has been chosen for the fifth annual Young Quebecers Leading the Way Award. Read our press release.
Senator Joan Fraser
The outspoken Sen. Joan Fraser has made a double-barreled impact on our community. The first was throughout her forceful 33-year journalism career, most notably her many years as a no-nonsense leader at The Montreal Gazette where she proved equally eloquent in print and in person. She moved to the political realm in 1998, a fearless dynamo in the Senate of Canada until her retirement last year. Sen. Fraser’s record is jam-packed with examples of fierce yet empathic leadership and accomplishment. Over the long run, however, none of her contributions will prove more compelling or durable than her profound understanding of – and thus consistently effective advocacy for – the bedrock principles of minority linguistic rights, regardless of language group. More recently, Sen. Fraser has rallied to the defence of imperiled English school boards in Quebec. Her work has both embodied and helped to entrench the distinct bicultural core that makes our nation so remarkable. In a most profound way, she has helped build a more resilient, enduring and accommodating Canada
The incomparable Josh Freed does far more than simply poke fun. None would dare dispute his unquestionable mastery of that most challenging of vocations, humourist. Usually with gentle but whenever necessary with cutting humour, Freed has for decades illuminated, explained, celebrated and bemoaned the daily challenges that dog English-language life in Quebec. His perceptive insights resonate not just within our community. They have also proven persuasive for those on the other side of the traditional solitudes line, and influential beyond Quebec. He is unsparing in his analysis yet always delivers his perspective with affection. Freed nails the flaws and the foibles, the contradictions and the complications that enrich and at times can enrage – on occasion indeed inflame – both sides of what is often described as our linguistic and cultural divide. In addition to his Saturday Gazette column, Freed’s body of work includes seven books and dozens of documentary films. He has for decades consistently brought Quebecers of all origins together with wit and warmth.
A kind-hearted gentleman of great compassion and rigour as well as unswerving commitment to service, Martin Murphy has long been a spirited and adroit advocate for social justice. He is renowned for his exquisite talent at penning thorough and convincing briefs. Driven always by his strong sense of duty, Murphy has advanced core community causes including better conditions for our teachers; greater access in English to our health and social services; and the successful conclusion of stormy negotiations with the federal government to ensure equitable funding. He has also quietly served as something of a godfather for the QCGN throughout its 24-year history. Murphy’s skills at the often daunting challenge of transcending the divides of rural, urban, regional and sectoral are legendary. He has proven particularly adept at keeping the development and vitality of our many smaller and more fragile English-speaking communities – dotted across Quebec’s many regions – at the forefront of our collective focus.
Joshua Arless has already spent much of his life breaking barriers and smashing stereotypes. Seven years after graduating high school, Arless was elected in fall 2014 as a Lester B. Pearson School Board councillor. He represents Dorval and Lachine, on the West Island of Montreal. He is quiet-spoken, astute and thoughtful. Arless is also gay. Because of his sexual orientation, he was bullied in Grade 7 and forced to take refuge in the library of his Pearson board school, Lakeside Academy High School in Dorval. Arless confided in a librarian who then intervened with the school’s principal. Arless flourished following this intervention. He became vice-chair of the school’s Central Student Committee and served for five years as executive producer of TOPS: Performance Education, an innovative non-profit board initiative to nurture and showcase arts education outside the typical classroom environment. Active in politics, Arless is determined to ensure that LGBTQ rights are fully recognized and respected throughout the education system.
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