City of Burnaby Announces 2021 Local Heroes

Last updated: October 28, 2021

The City of Burnaby is recognizing five Local Heroes for their outstanding contributions to their community. 

In its 24th year, the award recognizes individuals who make our city a better place through their commitment to volunteerism. This year's nominees, like their predecessors, show many qualities of a hero. They have made noteworthy contributions to community well-being by spending countless hours improving the health, safety and quality of life of Burnaby’s citizens.  
 
2021 Local Heroes are:

  • Eric Berkefeld 
  • Winnie Cheung 
  • Raymond M. Chow, MStJ
  • Teresa Rasquinha 
  • Rory Tennant 

City Council acknowledged these individuals at their October 25 meeting with certificates of recognition. To date, the City has recognized 270 Local Heroes. 

Every second year, Burnaby citizens nominate candidates for the Local Heroes Award. Any City resident who has been an active volunteer in Burnaby for at least five years in a minimum of two activities is eligible. 

Learn more about this year’s Local Heroes below. 

Biographies of this year’s Local Heroes Award winners

For over 10 years, Eric Berkefeld has donated his time and energy to assisting frail and isolated seniors in Burnaby. As a volunteer driver for Citizen Support Services, Eric used his personal vehicle to transport seniors to and from monthly Gadabouts Outings and the weekly Social Lunch programs held at Confederation Seniors Centre. Recognizing that the social aspect of these programs is as essential as the food, Eric takes the time to socialize with the seniors. With his engaging personality, he is easily able to connect with people. As Eric's nominators note, "The liveliest of the lunch tables always had one common denominator - Eric! He was there, making all of the seniors laugh and smile."

Eric also devoted his time as a Phone Buddy volunteer, conducting weekly calls, providing companionship and a supportive listening ear to Burnaby's seniors. With the increasing isolation during the pandemic, Eric's wellness check-in calls with the seniors were welcomed and appreciated more than ever. 

Eric assisted in other community areas as well. He helped out at the local food bank during the pandemic. He's also a member of the Vancouver Welshmen's Choir. Eric and the Welshmen's Choir have generously donated complimentary performance tickets to Citizen Support Services for years, providing isolated seniors with an opportunity to enjoy an uplifting evening of music and song.

For over 12 years, Winnie Cheung has volunteered her time in various roles and organizations to create an intercultural understanding of heritage and cultural diversity. As a founder and volunteer of the Pacific Canada Heritage Centre - Museum of Migration Society (PCHC-MoM), Winnie formed partnerships with other organizations such as the Burnaby Village Museum and the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, organizing many events for Burnaby residents. She was also a supporter of the "Across the Pacific" exhibit (2019-2020) at the Burnaby Village Museum. She organized three guided tours for Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking elders for the exhibit. 

During COVID-19, Winnie held various virtual workshops, online webinars, festivals, conferences and meetings for PCHC-MoM, which were open for Burnaby residents to attend. In Winnie's capacity as director (and now advisor) of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society (VAHMS), she organized the annual explorASIAN festivals. The VAHMS creates public awareness and appreciation of the rich diversity of Pan Asian communities in Metro Vancouver and attracts Burnaby residents to local family-friendly cultural events. 

Since 2009, many of the events held as part of the exploraASIAN festival, including the Sumi-e art exhibit, flower arrangement shows and artist talks, took place in Burnaby. Winnie is also a community member at the Simon Fraser University Institute for Transpacific Cultural research and an associate at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Her nominators note that Winnie "has provided leadership to establish and sustain many projects that value diversity in conversations for better understanding."

Since 1984, Raymond Chow has been a dedicated volunteer with St. John Ambulance in Burnaby, which provides first aid training and services at community events. Raymond started as a cadet and rose through the ranks of St. John Ambulance. In 1993, he formed and led the SFU Division, which merged with Burnaby's Adult Division 304. Raymond is currently the Divisional Superintendent of St. John Ambulance Burnaby Division 389c, also known as the Florence Burwell (Burnaby) Cadets, where he supervises 105 volunteer members.

Raymond runs a program that provides Burnaby youth with social and personal development opportunities through leadership training, volunteer service, and participation in community events. The youth program also includes CPR-a-thons, where the participants demonstrate their first aid skills and promote first aid awareness at public venues. 

During the pandemic, Raymond guided the Burnaby Division to offer weekly virtual meetings and a monthly Speaker Series to keep adult and cadet members engaged, inspired and safe. His nominators state, "Mr. Chow has selflessly contributed thousands of volunteer hours to help improve the health, safety and quality of life of the community through the services and programs provided by St. John Ambulance in Burnaby."

Teresa Rasquinha is one of several Burnaby residents who created Ryan's Rainbow Emergency Food Outreach. It's a volunteer-run food security program supported by other local groups, including the Burnaby Food Hub. 

Teresa started volunteering at Ryan's Rainbow in 2007. In 2017 she took over as the lead organizer, expanding the program and the number of volunteers. The volunteers collect food donations weekly and deliver food boxes to local seniors, individuals, and families in need every Thursday.

Teresa's nominators state that she goes above and beyond in her dedication to supporting local families. From including treats for families with young children to birthday cakes for seniors, her commitment to getting to know the community is inspiring. Her nominators add, "Teresa spends 2-3 days a week to prepare for the work. Last year, she even added another delivery on December 22nd, right before Christmas, so that families could have more during the holiday break. We're honoured to work with her and see first-hand her compassion, kindness, and dedication." Teresa also often connects the individuals and families she serves to other support services. 

Rory Tennant has been a volunteer with Burnaby schools for 23 years, spending 12 hours per week at Stride Avenue Community School and Aubrey Elementary School. 

Rory supports primary and intermediate students with reading, writing, and math skills and assists classroom teachers in preparing and organizing classroom materials. He also helped students in the breakfast and hot lunch programs and participated in community events. Rory's nominators note his ability to connect with and support children in what they need most.

His nominators add, "Rory manifests many qualities of a hero. He is kind, patient, compassionate, reliable, hard-working, and an exemplary model. He is welcoming by nature and students are eager to seek academic and social support from him. Rory understands the importance of building meaningful relationships with students so that they feel safe, valued, and ready to learn. He always treats children with respect, and as a result, gains their respect."

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