Orienteering Ottawa Annual Awards

Last year the club lost a friend, competitor and mentor. Brian Graham was a big contributor to our sport through the years. He brought so much to the orienteering community and so much to our club. CH2M, the company where Brian worked, made a donation to the club to use for a special project in Brian’s memory. Brian’s family offered a matching contribution. After much consultation with Brian’s family it was decided to start a set of annual awards in honour of some other key folks who we have lost from our local orienteering community in recent years.

As well as honouring Brian, it was decided that we would also honour 3 other individuals who, in the past, were instrumental in the development of our sport. We are so grateful to C2HM and to Marketa, Robbie and Tom for making this happen for us. Our thanks to Gloria Rankin, Nevin French and Marketa Graham for establishing the draft criteria and elegibility of these awards for each category.

Pat de St. Croix Memorial Award - Volunteer of the Year

Pat de St Croix
Pat, smiling on a rainy, cold day

Pat de St. Croix was an outstanding contributor to the development of the sport of orienteering in Canada. She was a fixture in the orienteering community from the very earliest days of Orienteering in Canada - the early 70s. She worked tirelessly for our sport at the club (Niagara and Ottawa) and at the national level as COF President in the 1980's. She was a volunteer who stood out among volunteers. The Pat de St. Croix Memorial Award recognizes Pat’s volunteerism by honouring an Orienteering Ottawa member who has, over the past year:

  • Contributed a significant amount of time to volunteer in local orienteering events in any capacity.
  • Made a significant impact to the Ottawa Orienteering Club or raised the profile of orienteering in the community, in other organizations or schools.
  • Shown a commitment to personal development, teamwork and supporting the development of others.
  • Demonstrated leadership in the club
Rob Haddow

In a successful and growing club that is run by volunteers, there are so many volunteers deserving of recognition. It is hard to single out one person. And yet, our winner is someone who, a few short years ago, stepped up, stepped in with both feet and immersed himself in our sport and our club.

This year’s recipient first helped out a Pinhey’s Point one spring not so long ago, and maybe didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he arrived early and asked if there was anything he could do to help. He has since become an expert with Sportident, and a face that everyone sees every weekend at the computer in the results tent. He has more recently taken on some promotional roles for the club, including keeping us active on Facebook. The Pat de St. Croix Memorial Award for Volunteering was presented to Rob Haddow who jumped in with both feet.

Colin Kirk Memorial Award - Aspiring Junior of the Year

Colin Kirk
Colin Kirk

Colin Kirk was one of Canada's orienteering pioneers. As Executive Director for over 20 years, most of them in a volunteer role, he was instrumental in the growth of the sport across the country in the 70's and 80's. Of the many aspects of orienteering that benefited from Colin’s involvement, one that stands out is his support and encouragement of junior athletes. The Colin Kirk Memorial Award recognizes Colin’s connection to junior development  by honouring a young Orienteering Ottawa athlete who :

  • is 18 years old or younger during the past year
  • will have made considerable improvements in his or her performance and achievements
  • has been a positive role model for other juniors
  • has contributed to the improvement of other juniot athletes.
Thomas Lindale

This year’s winner started out with the Kids Running Free programme a number of years ago. He has grown to be a valuable junior coach with the kids programme. In grade 8, he started an Orienteering Club at his school. He mapped his school yard and purchased equipment for the school. He has taken the Officials Course and as a 14 year old organized his first club Summer Solstice event. Thomas Lindale was awarded the Colin Kirk Memorial Award.

Pierre Brassard Memorial Award - Orienteering Spirit

Pierre Brassard
Pierre Brassard

Pierre, a former club president, was always smiling, always full of life, always out to beat the orienteering course. He particularly loved the longer events, but he enjoyed every orienteering format. Pierre was welcoming, he was friendly, he was encouraging, he challenged himself, and he had fun. The Pierre Brassard Memorial Award recognizes Pierre’s spirit and is awarded to an Orienteering Ottawa member who has :

  • Shown the true sprit of orienteering
  • Sets him or herself high personal challenges
  • Shown a welcoming spirit to newcomers in the sport
  • Encouraged members to increase their participation, either competitively or by helping with the organizing of events.
Francis Kawam
Francis missed out on the good food at the AGM this year.

A number of years ago, a new club member approached the Board asking if the club was interested in having a running coach to work with our athletes. At the time, we were looking for ways to support our competitive athletes. The Board agreed to have this person do some running training with the athletes. Since then, the programme has grown and become an institution within our club. As the athletes learned about running training our coach learned about orienteering. Workouts got more and more complex, maps were created, brains were tested as much as the body. Everyone was welcomed in, youngsters, high performance athletes, old folks trying to pretend they can still run. Today, thanks to Francis Kawam, Orienteering Ottawa has the best training programme of all clubs in the country. The Pierre Brassard Memorial Award went to Francis Kawam for the tone he sets and the spirit he exemplifies with his coaching and support of all of us.

Brian Graham Memorial Award - Orienteer of the Year

Brian Graham
Brian Graham

Brian Graham was a competitor - representing Canada at many World Championships. He was also an expert course setter, a respected controller, a mentor, a coach, and a true sportsman. He was dedicated and hard working and persevered through hardship. Brian was a role model and an inspiration. The recipient of this award will have:

  • Been an orienteering role model and inspired others.
  • Exceptional orienteering performance and/or skills either over the course of the year or in a specific event.
  • Exhibited special qualities that set them apart from others, i.e. dedication and perseverance
  • Shown true sportsmanship
  • Helped mentor others to success
  • Inspired other athletes to reach their goals
Robbie Graham

This year’s recipient is an elite athlete, a willing worker, a person with a positive attitude. He was on the Orienteering Ottawa team for the Jukola relay in Finland which finished as the top North American team. He competed at JWOC placing as top Canadian in each race. He was also a member of the Canadian Team at World University Championships in Hungary and had an outstanding performance at the North American Championships where he took gold in the M20 Middle, beating a top field of all North American juniors. When we speak of perseverance, this young man has shown that quality in spades achieving these results after battling a tough stress fracture in the spring and the cloud of his father's illness.

He brings with him to every event a positive and fun attitude. In addition to his racing, he has helped coach in the kids program, helped the Program Manager with school programs and volunteered writing for social media for the club and the HPP.  He is very approachable and is developing into a great role model for younger juniors, running Track for Carleton and will graduate to the Senior Canadian HPP Team next year. His has such a Brian kind of attitude. The winner of the inaugural Brian Graham Memorial Award for Orienteer of the Year is Robbie Graham.