Reader's Digest Canada Announces their Canadian Heroes of 2007


    Our reader nominated heroes are a true inspiration for all of us

    MONTREAL, Dec. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Reader's Digest Canada announced today
their Canadian Heroes of 2007. Reader's Digest asked readers across the
country whom they considered a Hero in education, community service, rescue,
public life, and health. From the nominations, our judges selected the
finalist in each category. And this year, we had a very special group of
judges - all previous heroes of the year!

    Your Canadian Heroes of 2007 are:

    For Health - Chatham-Kent's, Susan McLellan. In February 2006 Susan
McLellan's life was torn apart by the death of her 13-year-old son Myles. In
2002 Myles had been diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumour.
Myles endured a 20-hour operation to remove the tumour, followed by a year of
chemotherapy and radiation which caused cognitive disabilities, nerve damage
and hair and hearing loss. But through it all, he was a tireless campaigner,
raising $175,000 for cancer-related causes and another $75,000 for his own
charity: Myles' Miracle Mission - Cancer Assist (MMM). Myles' goal was to set
up a cancer-care centre to offer education, support and hope for cancer
patients and their loved ones. After his death, Susan was determined to turn
Myles' dream into a reality. The MMM Cancer Assist Wellness Centre is
scheduled to open its doors in December 2007.
    For Rescue - Mark Barnard, Andy Hilderman and Mike Landry of Regina. On
July 23, 2007, Mark, Andy and Mike - three friends from Regina on vacation in
British Columbia - were driving northbound on Highway 97 in the Okanagan
Valley. It was 1:30 in the morning and suddenly Mark noticed flames out of the
corner of his eye - a car in a ditch on the southbound side of the road was on
fire. The friends got out of their car to see if they could help and, as they
descended into the ditch, they could hear a woman's screams. Trapped inside
the car was 25-year-old Julie Wharram. Mark climbed into the over-turned car
and found Wharram was held in tightly by her seatbelt. With fire licking at
Wharram's legs, the friends worked quickly to free her from the car and carry
her up to the road. As the ambulance and RCMP cruiser arrived, the friends
turned back to look at her car only to see it explode. In the words of
Wharram's father, "Every time I think of Mike, Andy and Mark, I'm so thankful
they were there and did what they had to do…I owe them my daughter's
life."
    For Education - Hebron, Nova Scotia teacher, Joe Bishara. A teacher for
30 years at Maple Grove Education Centre, Bishara is well-known for his
dedication to both his students and the community. At a Remembrance Day
service in 1984, Bishara witnessed a student take off his poppy in front of a
veteran and throw it into the mud - Bishara was appalled. It was at that
moment he realized he needed to take action to encourage respect for veterans'
sacrifices, and the Memorial Club was born. In addition to the regular club
activities such as attending Remembrance Day ceremonies, visiting vets and
sending care packages to Canadian soldiers wounded in Afghanistan, the club
has done wonders for the self-confidence of the his students. Instead of
talking about his own achievements and commendations, Bishara prefers to
celebrate the inspiring achievements of the kids in the Memorial Club, saying
"People are in awe that these young people do these things."
    For Community - Fort McMurray, Alberta's "patient field naturalist," Ruth
Kleinbub. In 1988 Ruth Kleinbub decided the Clearwater River, which flows
through Saskatchewan and Alberta, over Precambrian Shield, past ancient
pictographs and rate plant species, should be a Canadian Heritage River.
Kleinbub, herself a force of nature, also proved a force to be reckoned with.
She took her proposal to a conference about Alberta Rivers and over the next
17 years, developed a river-management plan and, instead of fighting those who
opposed her plan (hunters, snowmobilers and loggers who felt the heritage
designation would restrict their access), managed to get them on-board as
members of the Clearwater Committee! Ruth is not only the treasurer for the
Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA), she's also its memory
and conscience. She speaks out at oil sands development hearings on behalf of
"water, air, land and critters," and with her husband, has helped establish
seven Wildland provincial parks in northern Alberta!
    For Public Life - Makivik Corporation president, Pita Aatami. Aatami was
born and raised in Kuujjuaq, a community on the Koksoak River. As president of
Makivik Corporation, a position elected by Inuit residents of Nunavik - the
mostly-Inuit northern third of Quebec - Aatami helps Nunavik's 10,000 Inuit
successfully marry their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle with that of the
outside world. At the age of 22, Aatami first ran for town council and was a
councillor to ten years, and deputy mayor for eight of those. During his time
as a councillor, Aatami established a youth camp, now in its 20th year, was
president of the local landholding association and was engaged in economic
development. Now in his fourth term as president of Makivik, Aatami won the
last election with 83 percent of the vote. In the words of his friend, and
Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, "Pita is very present and
bold…he's not afraid to speak his mind, to step up to the plate, to do
what needs to get done."
    The dictionary definition of a "hero" is "a person distinguished by
courage, noble deeds, outstanding achievements." Our Canadian Heroes of 2007
most certainly fit the bill! Their full stories are in the January issue of
Reader's Digest.

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