Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit selection committee announces 2023 honorees


The Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit Selection Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 Medal of Merit – Dr. Chelene Christine Hanes and David Orazietti.

“The Medal of Merit was established to recognize outstanding achievement in a given field, and contributions to the community over many years. Dr. Hanes and Mr. Orazietti represent foremost examples of these qualities to celebrate with the City’s highest honour,” said Mayor Matthew Shoemaker. “Through Dr. Hanes’ groundbreaking work in wildland fire research and Mr. Orazietti’s two decades of public service, both of them have had and continue to have a positive impact on Sault Ste. Marie.”

Dr. Chelene Hanes is being celebrated for her remarkable achievements in wildland fire research. As the first in her family to pursue postsecondary education, she obtained her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Western Ontario and Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Toronto. Specializing is drought estimation, fire probability and modeling potential forest fires within Canadian landscapes, Dr. Hanes has not only enhanced the scholarly landscape of the community but has also ignited a passion for climate change, forest fire, and drought management in others. Her contributions extend to her role as a Wildland Fire Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada, where she plays a pivotal role in enhancing the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System through field and lab-based research on moisture dynamics, fuels, and fire behavior. This enhanced system, fortified by her research, supports effective wildland fire management strategies across Canada.

David Orazietti’s journey in public service began when he was elected to Sault Ste. Marie City Council in Ward One at the age of 28. Known for his exceptional political acumen and unwavering commitment to his constituents, Orazietti later served four consecutive terms as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the Sault Ste. Marie riding, making history as the first MPP to be re-elected three times in his constituency. While in government, he also served in Cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

His impact on the community spans diverse sectors including industry, business, health care, education, and social services. His transformative contributions were marked by bringing provincial resources to the community at an unprecedented level. Acknowledgements for his outstanding service include the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce President’s Award in 2016, and the Justice I.A. Vannini Award in 2017, presented by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice, Frank Iacobucci.

In 2017, Orazietti returned to the education sector as the Dean at Sault College, overseeing Aviation, Trades and Technology, Business, Environment and Culinary programs. Recently appointed as the President of Sault College, he continues to provide exemplary leadership to both the institution and community.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie awards the Medal of Merit to individuals or groups who have achieved exceptional meritorious honours in athletics, cultural or academic fields or who make extraordinary contributions to the community.

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