WOW Awards 2021

WOW logo

CLBC is pleased to announce the four inclusion champions from across the province chosen as this year’s Widening our World (WOW) Award recipients.

Hailing from Kamloops, Vancouver, South Surrey and Victoria, this year’s recipients were selected by a provincial committee of self advocate leaders, community members and CLBC staff for their commitment to helping people to stay positive, connected, and hopeful through the pandemic.

We congratulate the recipients and everyone who was nominated this year. We also thank everyone who took the time to submit a nomination to recognize someone who is promoting the power of inclusion.

Since 2009, CLBC has presented WOW awards to recognize British Columbians who are creating opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to lead full lives, have rich relationships and choices in how they live and work.

The 2021 CLBC WOW Award Recipients


Charmly Smith, South Surrey

Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo Involvement Coordinator & Self Advocate Leadership Network Supporter

Charmly was nominated by her colleague, Jillian Glennie. Charmly supports innovative, safe, and fun activities to make sure people continue to be engaged during COVID. Charmly maintained high levels of service for participants with the main aim to keep up connection despite the pandemic. Charmly listens, thinks, asks questions and provides support that is based on mutual respect and understanding – always ensuring that it is done with a person-centred approach.


“It’s an honour to be recognized for my work with the Self Advocates of Semiahmoo and the Self Advocate Leadership Network. However, it’s a much greater honour to be working alongside passionate self-advocates: I am thrilled to be part of an amazing team who at the start of COVID saw the need to create community, share, teach and spread joy. True leaders and mentors emerged during this time finding ways to make our community more inclusive and accessible for everyone.”

Jillian Glennie, Nominator:

“Charmly listens to what people want and adapts programs to suit their needs. Charmly focused on mental health, accessibility and community, making sure people continued to feel hopeful and supported throughout the pandemic. Charmly supported self advocate members to flourish. There were many projects where she was present and ready to support self-advocates: organized mental health presentations, card campaigns for isolated seniors and in creating podcasts. She is always thinking about how she can support people to thrive while also having fun!”

Justine Richmond, Kamloops

Group Facilitator, Community Companion Program: New Horizons Professional Support Services Inc.

Justine promotes social and community connections that are founded on respect, shared responsibility, and mutual enjoyment. Justine quickly adapted programs throughout the pandemic to reduce isolation and increase community connection for people with diverse abilities. Justine received two nominations this year! Justine was nominated by her employer, Emily McCallum and Ben Johnson, song writer and self-advocate.


“There are so many people who deserve to have their efforts recognized and highlighted. The WOW Award shines a light on the collaboration and ingenuity of everyone who has worked tirelessly to ensure that people with diverse abilities continue to be supported, included, and celebrated. I have the good fortune to be part of an amazing program and to work with individuals who guide how the program evolves to meet their needs.  It is truly an honour to receive this WOW Award and I share it with all of those who make the Community Companion Program what it is.”  

Emily McCallum, Nominator:

“Justine has done so much for the Kamloops community. For the past ten years, Justine has led the Community Companion Program with New Horizons Professional Support Services Inc. as a Group Facilitator supporting adults with diverse abilities to make connections with their community. She has shaped it into the incredibly valuable program it is today, and when COVID-19 started disrupting our lives, Justine was incredibly flexible and fiercely determined to maintain high levels of service for participants prioritizing the necessity of connection and reducing isolation.”

Ben Johnson, Nominator:

“Justine has done a lot to help everyone be included. She cares about people. She found safe ways for us to do the things we like that make us happy. Justine is a good person. I am so happy she was chosen as a WOW Award Recipient.”

Peter Edgar, Port Moody

President, EDGAR 

Peter was nominated by Shari Mahar in recognition of EDGAR’s donation of the use of 10 townhomes that enabled her organization, Community Integrated Services Society, to continue to provide community inclusion services to individuals during COVID. EDGAR has also donated land to BC Housing to build 325 units of affordable housing as part of the Woodland redevelopment in Port Moody.


“We are very excited to receive this award and recognition of EDGAR’s work to build partnerships and housing that benefits our communities and reflects the needs of the people who live in them, and we thank CISS for nominating us. In collaboration with the City of Port Moody, BC Housing and community partners, our vision for the Woodland redevelopment is to maximize the use of the site for the community while we work to expand over time market, strata and affordable housing options for existing and new residents.”

Shari Mahar, Nominator:

“Peter is a kind person who believes that everyone belongs in community. His attitude is seen through his generous actions. Typically, our services are provided in the community but because of the risks in the community we were not able to continue with that type of support. Because Peter and his team gave us the use of the 10 townhomes on the Woodland site, we were able to support anyone in our programs who wanted to have service during the pandemic. For many of the individuals who were able to continue their services, they felt included and supported.”

Melissa MacDonald, Victoria

Manager, Community Inclusion, Lifetime Networks of Victoria

Melissa was nominated by her executive director, Wendy-Sue Andrew. Throughout the pandemic, Melissa and her team have supported very vulnerable people with meal prep, meal drop-offs, tents, blankets, walks, and health checks, in collaboration with the justice system, integrated court, food banks and others. Melissa has also taken her own personal time to walk with individuals who live on their own to ensure they have on-going connection.


“My staff and I work with over 140 people in Victoria, many of whom have complex needs, are without homes, or live with addictions and/or mental health needs. Over the last year, my team has worked tirelessly with our community partners to make sure people stay safe and connected. I am so appreciative with this nomination. The nomination recognizes the commitment and compassion the Lifetime Networks complex needs team showed during this extraordinary time.”

Wendy-Sue Andrew, Nominator:

“Mel gave everything she could to providing support to other community outreach programs, to her staff, and directly to those she supported to keep people with multiple complex needs alive and reduce isolation during this past year. She is so deserving of this award as recognition of her passion and commitment and the difference she is making to the community.”