Celebrating Canada's Unsung Heroes of the Nonprofit Sector

Each year in Canada, millions of workers and volunteers make sacrifices in order to live, breathe and work for change, without expecting anything in return. At CharityVillage, we call these people Unsung Heroes and we feel, it’s about time to sing their praises!

Meet Carmen Yirka - "The Energizer"

At Mercy Ships Canada, people from around the globe come together with one common goal: to bring hope and healing to the world's most impoverished people. Mercy Ships runs the world's largest charity hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, which delivers free surgeries and medical training to thousands of people in West and Central Africa. While the medical professionals who volunteer with Mercy Ships are often at the forefront of the organization's work, there is an Unsung Hero who toils behind the scenes in the kitchen to energize this hardworking team.

As the Galley Team Leader, Carmen Yirka keeps the volunteers aboard the Africa Mercy well fed so they can perform life-changing surgeries and medical procedures. At any given time, the international crew can number up to 450 volunteers, including 150 Canadians. Feeding a team this large truly is a task of heroic proportion!

Meet Jack Mogus - "The Iceman""

Jack Mogus comes by his generosity and passion for giving back to others naturally - he and his two sisters have spent most of their young lives volunteering for a variety of causes. But when Jack found out that children in northern Canada were spending their hockey season sitting on the bench, simply because they lacked the equipment to play the game, this former AAA hockey player knew he had to get involved. Jack founded the organization Change By Youth, and has collected thousands of skates through individual donations, skate drives at local schools, and even by scouring thrift shops and purchasing used skates with his own money.

Meet Shannon Tessier - "The Reactivator"

Shannon Tessier is already giving back to society with her groundbreaking research into suspended animation - a biological process that has huge possibilities for the medical community. But Shannon's dedication to helping others doesn't stop there - in 2007 this biochemistry PhD and Harvard Research fellow founded the Chance Foundation, an all-volunteer organization dedicated to improving the well-being of underprivileged kids in Ottawa and around the world. Their most recent project was the restoration of Bingham Park, an inner-city green space that had fallen into deep decline. Shannon and her team, in partnership with the Lowertown Community Association, played a critical role in turning this 'Needle Park' into a valuable community space where children can safely swim and play.

Meet Nathalie Maione - "The Deliverer"

Ottawa’s Nathalie Maione is a mother of six and a full time Early Childhood Educator. As if that didn’t keep her busy enough, in 2005, Nathalie and a friend founded Helping With Furniture after realizing that many Ottawa residents had good quality furniture they didn’t need, while others were struggling to furnish their homes. Every week, for nearly a decade, Nathalie and her team of volunteers have tirelessly delivered gently used furniture and household goods to families and individuals in need. In particular, HWF focuses on newcomers to Canada who are living in the Ottawa area. Since 2005, HWF has helped more than 900 families!

Want to nominate an Unsung Hero?