A night of awards and recognition of groups and organizations active in the fight for animal rights
Close to 100 people gathered for the Quebec Animal Rescue of the Year Award ceremony on Nov. 13.
The ceremony took place at NDG’s Monkland Community Centre, and highlighted the accomplishments and efforts of various animal activist groups and organizations. Representatives from over two dozen rescue organizations were present.
The ceremony was moderated by twin comedians Tom and Peter Hartman, who provided entertainment throughout the evening. The two men performed stand-up routines and interacted with the crowd, while also announcing and handing out awards.
Some attendees brought their dogs, and many of the rescue operations brought animals in need of adoption for attendees to interact with and shower with well-needed attention.
Young, old and everyone in between came together to appreciate and celebrate the work that has been put into the important cause of animal rights.
The Animal Rescue of the Year Award was given to the Nali Animal Orphanage, run by Lindsay Burkart and Nathalie Santerre. The award came with a $2,000 grant to go towards animal rescue efforts. Nali is an organization that helps animals that are mistreated, neglected or abandoned.
“Most of the animals that we bring in are strays or are abandoned,” said Burkart. “So the animals start off with nothing when we get them, and we make sure that they’re all completely vetted, healthy and educated, as much as they can while they’re with us, until they find their home.”
Upon accepting the award, Burkart said experience providing help for animals has been “amazing.”
“Nathalie and I, who started Nali, we haven’t been doing this rescue as long as some of you in this room, but every day we learn things, we have new experiences,” she said to the room of attendees. “If there’s something I’ve learned, it’s that, despite the amount of sad stories there are, there’s just as many good ones.”
Burkat emphasized the importance of focusing on the success stories and being driven by them. “We have to remember that, at the end of the day, we’re all in this for the same reasons, and we all get there different ways, but the goal, the end game, is the same,” she said. “The most important thing is that we make a difference.”
Other awards, such as multiple “Unsung Hero” awards, were handed out to volunteers and workers from various animal rescue groups to recognize their tremendous accomplishments in the fight for animal rights.
One such recipient was eight-year-old Ben Bishop-Gay. Bishop-Gay has been helping Nali Animal Orphanage since he was five years old. “I usually help out at the lemonade stand at the garage sales [for fundraising] every year, for about three years now,” said Bishop-Gay.
This passionate volunteer said he is motivated by his love for animals. “I have a lot of animals at my house. I have 10 horses, and I have 16 beehives, and I have five cats and three dogs,” Bishop-Gay said. He said he cares about animals so much that, when he’s older, he wants to have an animal orphanage.
Several raffle prizes and other awards were also handed out. A $500 grant was given to the Pussy Patrol Cat Rescue group for their grassroot work in organizing cat adoptions and rescues. A $1,000 grant was given to Liliana Danel, a regional ambassador for Lush Cosmetics who is an avid animal rights activist.
Danel chose to donate her grant money in three ways between different rescue organizations: Westies in Need, Tiny Paws Dog Rescue and the Ottawa Pet Rat Rescue. She also commended the Concordia Animal Rights Association, who were among the volunteers working concession and various other tasks throughout the night.
Danel credited her receipt of the grant to “people knowing that I’m not in it for myself, but I’m in it for the others. I’ve been an animal activist in Montreal for many years.”
“Just the fact that I know so many people wanting to help animals, I think it’s an outpouring love from everyone who wanted to recognize my participation. That’s why I had to give it away right away,” said Danel.