Join us at the 2020 Courage to Give Back Awards - An East Coast Kitchen Party!

The Courage to Give Back Awards are not your ordinary awards banquet. The awards recognize and celebrate extraordinary individuals in our community. These individuals not only take on their own day-to-day challenges and personal barriers, but they make the time to give back to our community while they inspire others to do the same. We want to share their personal stories and recognize their conviction, courage and contributions through an inspiring and uplifting evening.

All funds raised through the Courage to Give Back Awards will go directly to enhancing and growing the programs and services Family SOS offers.

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Our Ambassadors

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Last year, Dr. Rustum and Gracey Southwell were our 2019 Courage to Give Back Awards Ambassadors. Rustum and Gracey have been champions of economic diversity, entrepreneurial development, capacity building in marginalized communities, and community development since arriving in Halifax from the Caribbean Island of Saint Kitts over 40 years ago. Rustum is the CEO of the Black Business Initiative and sits on several boards of community entities, while Gracey is a Chartered Professional Accountant with a demonstrable dedication to community development. Family SOS is overjoyed to welcome Rustum and Gracey to the Courage to Give Back Awards team.

Read more about Gracey and Rustum Southwell here.

Past Ambassadors 

Each year, we honour an inspiring community leader by naming them the Ambassador of the Courage to Give Back Awards. We open the call for nominations, seeking an individual who selflessly gives back to their community, despite any personal challenges. Our Ambassador is a mentor, a visionary, and an inventor, who encompasses the values of Family SOS: family, children, youth, and community. 

Our past Ambassadors include:

Elizabeth Newman, 2018 | Phil Otto, 2017 | Dr. John Anderson, 2016 | Brendan Maguire, 2015 | Danny Graham, 2014 | Colin MacDonald, 2013 |

Fred Connors, 2012 | Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, 2011 | Wadih M. Fares, 2010 | Eleanor Humphries, 2009 | Dennis Campbell, 2008 |

Mickey MacDonald, 2007 

2019 Award Recipients


Colette Robicheau

Indomitable Spirit Award

Colette is the co-founder and Chair of 100 Women Who Care Halifax, a charitable giving group that has donated over $400,000 to charities and non-profit organizations in Halifax over the past five years. She is a kind and thoughtful leader who never seeks the spotlight, and who has been instrumental in developing and expanding the Power of 100 Movement across Canada. Colette is hailed by her friends and colleagues as the definition of indomitable - she is confident, assertive, and driven by a deep compassion for those around her.


Stewart Zaun

Unsung Hero Award

Stewart is a familiar and friendly face at Family SOS and is known to every young person he has worked with as a mentor and a hero. Having worked as a program coordinator for nearly every program offered at Family SOS, Stewart ultimately founded the BEEA Honey with Heart program upon seeing a need for youth to have an opportunity to contribute to their communities and develop their own skills and self confidence. The youth at Family SOS who nominated Stewart for this award see him as an unwavering support and role model, stating that the amazing things that involvement in BEEA has brought to them can be credited to Stewart’s commitment to, and belief in them. .


Troy Ryan

Amazing Grace Award

Troy is a personal and professional hero in the world of hockey in Canada, having coached both men’s and women’s teams at local, Atlantic, national, and international levels. He is a demonstrably committed, humble, and inspirational role model throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality, particularly for the Spryfield community, where he was born and raised. Having started his own hockey journey as a child on a pair of skates on community ponds, Troy has never forgotten where he began and goes to great lengths to help others believe in themselves and always follow their passions.

Jodi Brown

Brave Heart Award

Jodi is a mother, advocate, and community leader across the greater Halifax and Nova Scotia community. After developing health problems and ultimately losing her career and home, Jodi quickly came to see the harsh realities that so many families in our community experience on social assistance and in public housing. Jodi used her voice and her social media platforms to advocate on behalf of her community for more adequate maintenance, repairs, and inspections in her neighbourhood, becoming a champion for demanding fair treatment for all Nova Scotians living in public housing. Jodi is described as a courageous and motivated spirit and continues to dedicate her time to raising awareness and inspiring change.


Gordel Mercer

Inspiring Youth Award

Gordel is a resident of North End Halifax and has faced and overcome many personal barriers with courage. Despite illness, changing family dynamics, and much adversity throughout his young life, Gordel has remained committed to himself and to his community; he successfully completed grade 12 at Citadel High, has been offered a scholarship to study at NSCC, and is a proud 6-year veteran of Family SOS’ Healthy Teenz program. Gordel volunteers to help with any task and takes pride in his role as a leader, encouraging those younger than him to make pro-social choices and rise above any adversity that they face.

Thank you to our sponsors!

We are so thankful to our amazing sponsors and friends that express their Courage to Give Back by supporting this important event!