A longtime Amherst doctor has been honoured as a Caring Canadian by Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
OTTAWA – Dr. Gillian Lawrence has been named a Caring Canadian.
The retired Amherst family doctor was among 46 Canadians honoured Monday during a ceremony at Rideau Hall featuring Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
Lawrence was recognized for her years of service to therapeutic horseback riding in Canada as a founding member and president of the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association.
She wrote the instructor certification manual and hosted regional showcases for disabled riders.
For 13 years she was a volunteer with the Federation of Horses in Education and Therapy International.
In addition to her work with horses, she initiated the Meals on Wheels program in her community, collected items for the food bank and served with the St. John Ambulance.
“The goal of this program is to celebrate people who care about their community,” Johnson said in an interview with Cumberlandnewsnow.com. “Very often when you approach these people about receiving an award they’re very quick to deflect the praise because they say they are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. We offer this award because we feel their stories have to be told.”
The Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award was started in 1995 by Romeo LeBlanc. It recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to help build a smarter and more caring nation.
The award also highlights the fine example set by these volunteers, whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of the Canadian character.
“One of the reasons we celebrate volunteerism is because it encourages us to see this as a fundamental feature of what it is to be a Canadian. Secondly, it’s part of our history. Our first settlers wouldn’t have survived if our First Nations peoples hadn’t reached out to help them,” the governor general said. “A trademark of our society is that we have worked hard at equality of opportunity and we do that by asking what we can do to improve our community and help our neighbours. As you build communities one by one you build a smart and caring nation.”
Johnson is encouraging new volunteers, or those thinking of giving their time, to find their way and take advantage of the impressive people who are also volunteers.
“You will find there’s a real joy in helping others,” he said. “Moving from me to we is one of the most special feelings you can experience. When you can begin to think of something important in your life that doesn’t involve yourself a great burden falls off your shoulders.”
Canadians, he said, have learned to stretch a little bit of time and talent a long way.
The Caring Canadian Award consists of a certificate and a lapel pin presented to recipients by the governor general or by lieutenant governors, territorial commissioners, mayors or partner organizations.
Lawrence was travelling in the Ottawa area and not available for comment on Tuesday.