Orazietti, Hanes 2023 receive Medals of Merit

photo: Matthew Shoemaker / Facebook. David Orazietti, Matthew Shoemaker, Dr. Chelene Christine Hanes

Sault Ste. Marie’s 2023 Medal of Merit recipients spoke at last evening’s city council and both thanked a large circle of family and colleagues through the years for their support and guidance in their respective careers.

David Orazietti and Dr. Chelene Christine Hanes were on hand at the Civic Centre to receive their medals from Sault Mayor Matthew Shoemaker, during a special meeting held prior to the start of the regular council session.

Dr. Hanes is being celebrated for her remarkable achievements in wildland fire research and Orazietti for his long and distinguished career in public service.

“I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to recognize two outstanding individuals, Dr. Chelene Hanes, David Orazietti with the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Medal of Merit, said Sault Mayor Matthew Shoemaker in his opening remarks. “Sault Ste. Marie is extremely proud of our residents, who individually or as part of a group continue to excel in various capacities.”

Orazietti’s career began in 1997, when he was elected a Ward 1 Councillor. He won re-election in 2000, and in 2003, ran as the Liberal candidate for Sault Ste. Marie in the provincial election, defeating NDP candidate Tony Martin.

Orazietti would go on to win re-election in 2007, 2011 and 2014, and become the first Sault MPP to ever be re-elected three times.

“It’s really and truly humbling to be here today.” said Orazietti. “I can’t think of a higher award in the community to be recognized by your peers, so it really means a lot. It’s a community I’m very passionate about as you know, and have fought very hard for in many ways to improve resources, quality of life and the things that we all value,” added Orazietti, noting council is doing those same things today.

Orazietti said his career success is a credit to people he’s been fortunate to work with over the years. 

“You never do it by yourself, it’s a very collaborative process if you’re going to make a difference,” said Orazietti. “We have so many great community members and community leaders in various roles and organizations in our community that I was privileged to work with. They helped me do my job and do my job better.”

Named Sault College President last April, Orazietti shared a political expression he says he uses to guide him day to day.

“Never forget where you come from. Never forget who sent you. And never forget what they sent you to do.”

Dr. Hanes was the first member of her family to pursue a post-secondary education.

After obtaining her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Western Ontario, Dr. Hanes went on to get her Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Toronto.

“I’m very humbled by this entire experience.” she told council. “Not only was I surprised I was nominated for this award for my career achievements to date, I was even more surprised that I was nominated by my team, from my hockey league.” 

Dr. Hanes shared how reading her nomination package brought her to tears “because you guys made me sound so amazing.”

She thanked her family for their support and acknowledged “some very great mentors” she has worked with along the way.

Dr. Hanes says some may not be aware but world class research has been conducted at the Great Lakes Forest Research Centre “right where in Sault Ste. Marie” since the 1970s and working with great researchers has allowed her to excel.

“I’m also very fortunate that I work for a world-class research organization here in my hometown. And because I’m able to do this work in my hometown I have the support of my extended family which is really important for my other job which is Mom to two girls.”

The Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit was first presented in 1972. The ribbon is gold, blue and grey. 

The gold represents the Civic Centre, a landmark of the seaway and home base for local government. 

The blue band represents the water, and the grey speaks generally to local industry, and steel in particular, which is the City’s foundation and strength. 

The medal itself is sterling silver and features the coat of arms, encircled by the inscription, “Medal of Merit, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.”

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