The VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation recognised the Ismaili community of British Columbia for its support of mental health initiatives and its contribution to the broader provincial community with the 2019 Leadership Award at the Telus Night of a Thousand Stars Gala in Vancouver on 26 October.

The award, which recognises contributions to the advancement of world-class healthcare in British Columbia (BC), is typically presented to individuals or families. But this year, the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation chose to recognise the contributions that have been made by the entire Ismaili community as a whole.

“We chose the Ismaili community because they have done so much to build social infrastructure and enhance the quality of life for British Columbians,” said Barbara Grantham, president and CEO of the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation.

Vancouver’s Ismaili Walk partnered with the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation in 2015 and 2016 to raise funds for the construction of the Joseph and Rosalie Segal Family Health Centre, a facility that helps patients and families dealing with mental illness at the Vancouver General Hospital.

“By raising awareness and supporting critical facilities and programs, we are able to improve the quality of life of those individuals and families who are impacted by mental health challenges,” Samir Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for B.C. said at the time.

Grantham’s relationship with the Ismaili community began in the early 1990s, when she served as Director of Development of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. The community was launching the Ismaili Walk, which grew into an annual event fundraising for local community organisations, and had decided to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital Foundation. In those days, the community was still learning how to set up the basics such as permits, parking, safety, and food service, recalls Grantham.

“By the time we came to working with the Walk in 2015, the infrastructure that the Ismaili community had built was so robust that it made our job as a beneficiary quite different,” said Grantham, adding that she admired the Ismaili community’s ethic of service to the wider community.

Past recipients of the UBC and VGH Hospital Foundation’s Leadership Award include the Ilich Family, Jack Poole, and Coast Capital Savings.

“The Ismaili community as a whole has done so much and are so emblematic of what all of us strive to be as thoughtful and engaged citizens,” said Grantham.

“That notion of giving one’s time and one’s treasure to your faith and to the wider community in which you live is so deeply held within the community.”