The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

The QueenI am one of 60,000 Canadians to be honoured this year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada. Over 2000 Ontarians were presented with their medals at a ceremony on June 18th at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, followed by fabulous entertainment by some of Canada’s greatest performers.

The celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee featured video clips about our Queen and her life story, a story of more than 60 years of dedicated service. The Queen actually began volunteering at the age of 14. “The 14-year-old princess, showing her calm and firm personality, told Britain’s children in a radio address that ‘in the end, all will be well for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.’ Appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards by her father, Elizabeth made her first public appearance inspecting the troops in 1942. She also began to accompany her parents on official visits within Great Britain. In 1945, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service to help in the war effort. She trained side-by-side with other British women to be an expert driver and mechanic. While her volunteer work only lasted a few months, it offered Elizabeth a glimpse into a different, non-royal world.”

The Queen who is 86 years old,  continues to serve with grace and gracefulness. Queen Elizabeth handles roughly 430 engagements each year from and supports more than 600 charitable organizations and programs. She is only the second British Monarch to celebrate 60 years, the first being Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth is famous for many things, but one statement she made years ago stood out at the celebration. On her coronation she said, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

The evening was hosted by Lt Governor David C. Onley and Her Excellency, Ruth Ann Onley and special guests were The Governor General, David Johnson and his wife, Her Excellency, Sharon Johnson. The emcee for the evening was Peter Mansbridge and there were magnificent performances by celebrities such as Ben Heppner, Molly Johnson, Gordon Lightfoot, and Susan Aglukark , a short talk by Marc and Craig Keilburger on the values of volunteering and taking action to end injustices, as well as musical performances by a military band made up of representatives of all the services, and a Children’s Choir which sang the Vice Regal salute, as well as a native group which provided drum music, song and dance.

Andria and CommanderI was presented my medal by Rex Harrington, a star of the National Ballet Company, who also received a medal. He was attended by a Commander from the armed forces who actually pinned on the medal as shown in the attached photo. I felt quite privileged to be among the “cast” of Canadians who were acknowledged, but even more privileged to be able to continue to serve as President of March of Dimes.

Every Opportunity Has Two Sides


Listening to a CBC radio interview one day recently I heard the following quote which struck me as speaking to the philosophy we promote at March of Dimes. Attributed to Winston Churchill, it was “With every opportunity there are difficulties, and with every difficulty, there are opportunities.” At March of Dimes Canada we have excelled at taking advantage of opportunities to do more for people with disabilities, even in challenging times and with limited resources or other difficulties, and with every change in the political landscape.


Colleagues are often amazed at the growth in operating budget and services that we provide. How when there have been recessions and economic downturns, government cutbacks, competition in fundraising and a shrinking donor base, has this agency grown? With the exception of two years in the last 30, and last year being one of them, we have exceeded all benchmark comparators. Since 1981, our 30th anniversary to 2011, our 60th year we have had 1950% growth.  Not accounting for inflation and a compounding effect, this is still extraordinary as over 1650 staff deliver services (we were 183 staff in 1981) to an ever increasing number of consumers with a growing range of programs.


The answer I believe is that we stay focused on our mission and vision and  practice “Planned Opportunism.” We are values based but not ideologically driven. We always work from both a 5 year Strategic Plan and an annual operating plan that aims to fulfill the 5 year plan. When other needs  or opportunities are presented, we incorporate them into the dynamic 5 year plan after careful consideration of their fit with our key goals and directions. We use every opportunity that is presented to fulfill the plan, such as partnerships, new funding  programs, volunteer initiatives, “adoption” of other programs, and a host of creative, innovative tactics. We do this because the needs of the constituents we serve, people with physical disabilities, are not static either. Demographics are changing and more people are surviving with severe disabilities. More people are living longer and acquiring disabilities at different stages of life. Chronic complex issues are arising. Those receiving our services often need increased service and need to access multiple services in the community. Thus, we are becoming increasingly, One Stop: Solutions forIndependence.


Research on quality of life factors generally support the notion of family and community being significant contributors to well being, not withstanding good medical care. We are here to develop family support, peer support, community supports and complement the other home and community supports available.


I am hoping to hear from  consumers and others who can tell me how they have benefitted from accessing services in the community from March of Dimes.


Best regards,


Happy 60th Anniversary March of Dimes Canada!

The year 2011 presents another unique and wonderful opportunity to celebrate the success of our organization over many years, and most importantly, the accomplishments of people with disabilities and their pursuit of equity, opportunity and justice.

For 60 years March of Dimes has operated in Canada, first to end the scourge of polio, and then to provide rehabilitative programs for those with severe disabilities. Then in the 60s, we helped organize civil rights advocacy initiatives with people with disabilities. Through the 70s we developed many programs at the grassroots level and by the 80s we expanded our service offerings, funded local advocacy initiatives, trained leaders from the “consumer movement,” and transformed into a regionally organized, but still provincial organization. In 2001, we linked with other organizations across Canada to celebrate our 50th anniversary, and by 2004, we were incorporated as a national charity offering programs outside of Ontario.

Since 2006, Ontario March of Dimes has been in the process of rebranding as March of Dimes Canada and we are very excited that now, in 2011, we have rebranded many of our activities and all of our fundraising. Our corporate board is working on a governance model that will facilitate a shift from being a provincial agency to a national one, but from this month forward, our work will be as one entity, March of Dimes Canada.

So, celebrate many aspects of our history and our future, as the lead community-based rehabilitation organization, strong on advocacy, service and innovative programs. Visit our website frequently for updates on all our activities and allow me to speak with you regularly also.

Best wishes,
Andria Spindel,
President and CEO March of Dimes Canada