Awarding Excellence and Sparking Innovation


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SPARC BC is committed to building a just and healthy society for all

When life brings the unexpected, people need support from their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic was no different, with communities across the globe witnessing the power of people and communities coming together to care for each other in real and meaningful ways. Known for the delivery of the Parking Permit Program for People with Disabilities, the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) has worked for almost 60 years with communities to seek out creativity and innovation designed to build a more just and healthy society for everyone.

Since 1966, SPARC BC has worked on the ground and at the policy level by providing research and information. SPARC BC is committed to working for positive policy change to meet the needs of underserved populations including seniors, people with disabilities, and families and children experiencing poverty.

SPARC BC is also committed to addressing systemic issues like food insecurity, housing and homelessness, and income insecurity and poverty. Through focusing on needs that are not yet met, SPARC BC seeks to create a better future for others because we know the future always grows brighter when everyone is included.

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The Deryck Thomson Award, named after Deryck Thomson—one of SPARC BC’s founding Directors and the first social worker in B.C.—recognizes individuals and organizations who reflect the ideals of social planning and social justice and who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make a difference in their communities.

While we know there is still much work that needs to be done to achieve our vision of a just and healthy society for all, we feel fortunate to have the privilege of a generous membership and donor base who support our work and who believe in the difference that can be made when people and communities work together. We also have the benefit of working with individuals who willingly share their wisdom and their belief that better is possible.

To this end, we would like to recognize and thank the following Deryck Thomson Award nominees for standing in their truth in ways that help to make each of us better citizens.

This year we would like to recognize THE TK’EMLÚPS TE SECWÉPEMC FIRST NATIONS for sharing their grief and pain at the discovery of the 215 unmarked burial sites on the grounds of the former Residential School. Recognizing the deep pain of their experience has provided an important call to action for each of us to stand beside them and all First Nations to acknowledge their loss and to ensure that all Canadian understand what it means to say that ‘every child matters.’

We would also like to recognize THE SAVAGE SOCIETY for their use of myths and storytelling as a way of building a connection to the past while looking forward to the future. In their celebration of the cultures and traditions of the Nlaka’pamux people of Lytton, British Columbia, THE SAVAGE SOCIETY has offered us important insights into the history of a community that will be forever changed by the devastating wildfires of 2021.

In presenting this Award, we want to thank THE SAVAGE SOCIETY for showing us the power of having a connection to the land through their stories of ash EETLemsh a demEEwh (Songs of the Land). May this kind of history give strength to the people of Lytton as they continue to rebuild.

As society continues to face multiple crises, whether it is the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating effects of extreme weather and other climate emergencies or the war in Ukraine, it is clear we live in an interdependent world where we have a responsibility to care for each other. As events swirl around us, it is easy to forget some of the simple joys that can help to nourish the spirit, including simply being a child. To this end, we want to recognize the efforts of Julia of JULIA’S JUNCTION and her parents for their commitment to ensuring that every child has the chance to experience the simple and carefree joys of playing with their friends.

Through the presentation of the Deryck Thomson Award to JULIA’S JUNCTION, it is our wish to remind each of us of the importance of people and communities coming together to remove barriers that limit others. For Julia and her parents, we wish to recognize your commitment to true inclusion and your belief in the power of community.

SPARC BC’s Board of Directors also wishes to recognize the importance of the work of Sharon Karsten and the WALK WITH ME PROJECT, which was developed in response to the growing number of lives lost to the toxic drug poisoning crisis and the sense of pain and loss experienced by those who use drugs, their family members as well as front-line workers.

Through WALK WITH ME, Sharon uses cultural mapping and stories to create a space that allows communities to come together to talk about their grief and loss and to remember those who are gone. Not only is WALK WITH ME about coming together as citizens and individuals who are at the heart of the crisis, but it is also about collectively re-imagining a better future.

The final Award goes to Linda Lavallee for teaching us the power of humility and resilience. Raised in Timber Bay, Saskatchewan, Linda learned how to bead and sew from her mother, aunties and grandmothers and is known for her talent and creativity. Linda is also known for her tireless commitment to addressing the issue of homelessness and for her work with vulnerable youth. A few years ago, after an incident of racial profiling left her feeling shocked and hurt, Linda decided to use the skills she had learned in her childhood to make a new “ribbon skirt” each day as a way of walking proudly and celebrating her culture.

Linda found that as she surrounded herself in her culture, she could feel her ancestors walking beside her. Through the presentation of the Deryck Thomson Award to Linda we want to recognize our shared citizenship as well as the importance of walking together without judgment.

The Deryck Thomson Award represents the difference that each of us can make in our communities and in the lives of others. Strengthening B.C.’s communities starts with caring and from support from within. SPARC BC’s donors and members are committed to positive social change and believe in the importance of people and communities working together for a better future. There is still much to be done to promote greater equality across communities, and we invite you to join us in working for positive social change.

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Through these five focus areas, we’re committed to supporting Indigenous people, community organizations, seniors, people with disabilities and all levels of government, including First Nations.


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