Giving to 150

Rehab Med Alumni Council Representatives celebrate our country as lead donors to the Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation

Amy Knezevich - 28 June 2017

As we gear up across the country to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian confederation, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine alumni are marking the occasion and celebrating rehabilitation careers by establishing the Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation.

Former faculty representatives on the University of Alberta Alumni Council have stepped up to lead the charge. John Voyer, Jennifer Rees, Anne Lopushinsky and Linda Miller, as well as current faculty representative Grant Irwin, have donated to the fund, which will support a University of Alberta alumnus pursuing a graduate degree in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

"I think it is appropriate and timely to link Canada's 150th anniversary with an alumni award in rehabilitation," said Irwin. "This award could enable the rehabilitation community to make a difference with directed research, increasing knowledge translation and promoting the academic progress of the rehabilitation professions."

Support for the award is about more than celebrating Canada and rehabilitation medicine, it's also about planning for the future to meet the rehabilitation needs of Canadians. As Canada's population grows and changes over time, access to occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists will become increasingly more important, and awards like this one assist in building and maintaining the rehabilitation workforce by supporting students.

"As our population continues to age, we will rely more and more on the research and clinical skills of our alumni, faculty and future rehabilitation professionals to ensure healthy, independent and active communities. The innovation, expertise and research generated by our alumni and rehabilitation family will positively impact our communities," said Voyer.

"Like medicine or dentistry, rehabilitation will touch everyone's life at some point. Access to rehab is important for people to remain active, live longer and have a better quality of life," said Miller. "I want the best and the brightest students to be able to study at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, and it shouldn't be dependent on financial need."

Rees agrees. "Education is the key to so many facets of our world. We need to create lasting legacies within our great post-secondary institutions," she added.

But for this group of alumni, it's also a chance to give back to the institution that helped shape their lives.

"I believe one of the critical reasons I was able to enjoy a fulfilling and successful career was a result of the learning I received from the University of Alberta," said Irwin. "Building friendships with the faculty and staff in the department was a particularly good memory."

"This is where my career started, and my time as an undergraduate student allowed me years to form a relationship with the faculty and the university," said Lopushinsky. "With a graduating class of 25 there are a lot of memories shared over four years! Also, my husband and three children are graduates of the University of Alberta."

"The faculty helped shape the person I am today. I learned so much and made lasting friendships," said Rees. "I loved the small class and the relationships we had with our classmates and the professors."

As it turns out, being a University of Alberta alumnus and a Canadian have many similarities. As July 1st approaches, it is a great time to celebrate both 'red and white' and 'green and gold' pride.

"Being a Canadian is belonging to a community and nation that includes indigenous people and immigrants from all generations that have come together by experience and have a common wish or dream to build a sustainable virtuous nation. A Canadian is one who can rely and depend on neighbour, friend and community to come together and flourish," said Irwin.

"I have vivid memories of celebrating Canada's 100th as an elementary school child. Of course, at the time I didn't know about rehabilitation and even when I started in the program I didn't realize how young the professions were in Canada. This allows for celebrating rehabilitation and our nation's birthday," said Lopushinsky.

Miller adds why it's so important to make it a point to celebrate rehabilitation, University of Alberta alumni and Canadians. "We're humble! We have a lot of UAlberta alumni having achieved a lot of accomplishments that aren't prominently displayed. This is the same as Canadians who have phenomenal achievements; we're all very quiet!"

"The Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation gives us all the opportunity, as alumni, to 'do great things' while giving back to our alma mater and supporting the next generation of outstanding rehabilitation alumni," said Voyer.

Happy 150th, Canada, from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine!

Meet the Donors: Our Alumni Council Representatives

John Voyer ('90 BScOT)
Alumni Council Rep term: 1995-1999
John has returned to his rehab roots after many years in the not-for-profit sector and currently works as the Assistant Dean, Development in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. He is passionate about the U of A having served on the Alumni Association as its Secretary, Special Events Ad Hoc Committee Chair, and Vice-President, Communications. He created the Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation and welcomes all alumni to join in the celebration and truly make a difference.

Jennifer Rees ('80 BScPT)
Alumni Council Rep term: 2002-2005
Jennifer works as Lead in the Engagement and Patient Experience Department for Alberta Health Services, where her role is to help bring the patient and family voice into all levels of AHS from the board room to the bedside. She served on the University of Alberta Senate for nine years. Her hobbies include volunteering for the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the Green and Gold garden, where they grow and sell fruit and vegetables with all profits supporting a women's organization in Rwanda. In her free time, she enjoys tennis, Pilates, running and walking, and she helps care for her mother with Alzheimer's with one of her sisters.

Anne Lopushinsky ('79 BScSPA)
Alumni Council Rep term: 2008-2011
Anne is the Director of Accreditation with Alberta Health Services, where her work focuses on the 'competence' of the health system to provide safe, quality care. Previously, she was Registrar with the Alberta College of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, where the focus was on the competence of the individual practitioner. Before that, she was an SLP at Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. She continues to curl (and recalls fondly the drop-down hacks in the basement of SUB while she was in university) and golf and enjoys volunteering.

Linda Miller ('89 BScOT)
Alumni Council Rep term: 2011-2016
Linda is the President of EWI Works Inc., a company that she established in 1991 to provide ergonomics consulting, design reviews, and user training at both industrial and office environments. She received her Master's degree in Environmental Design from the University of Calgary and completed her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Boston University in 2012. She believes in being actively involved with the university and the Edmonton community as a whole. Linda's two children are now attending the U of A.

Grant Irwin ('79 BScPT)
Alumni Council Rep term: 2016-2019
Grant recently retired from being a private practice owner, but continues to work in private practice and as a consultant physiotherapist for two long-term care centers. He volunteers with the Little Bits Association, assisting in a horse-riding clinic for developmentally and physically challenged adults and children. He is also a vocalist with a community Big Band, likes to cycle as much as the weather permits and hopes to reignite his lost hobbies of windsurfing and sailing.


Canada 150 at the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine

For almost as long as there's been a Canada, there's been a University of Alberta. Over the next year, in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary, we're proudly celebrating the people, achievements and ideas that contributed to the making of a confederation.

Join the celebration and make a difference

Together, our alumni are celebrating Canada's 150th birthday by creating the Canada 150 Alumni Award in Rehabilitation to advance the art and science of rehabilitation in our great nation. Your gift will establish a fund to support a University of Alberta alumnus pursuing a graduate degree in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine. This award provides a unique opportunity for us to celebrate and make a difference for future generations of rehabilitation professionals, for the next 150 years and beyond. Visit for more information and to donate.