Edmonton’s entrepreneurs care about more than just bottom lines. They think about giving back to their communities — and making Edmonton a better place to call home. The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s Northern Lights Award of Distinction recognizes a business or individual making positive and lasting contributions to the communities they serve.
The Community Impact Award goes to an individual or organization that demonstrates exceptional commitment to community service. It’s about a long-term dedication to being part of an inclusive community, and a devotion to social responsibility.
Community Impact Award:
Leading Edge Physiotherapy
For more than 16 years, Leading Edge Physiotherapy has been a positive force in the community. The company was founded on a simple premise: to support health and success for individuals, as well as the greater community.
“We knew that we could make a difference in the lives of our patients one at a time through our work as physios, but we wanted to do something much bigger and make a difference in the lives of the larger community,” says President and CEO Grant Fedoruk.
“A healthy community allows for a healthy business, so I mean, it’s a win-win situation.”
Fedoruk explains that the company’s commitment to community permeates every aspect of its operations. Each staff member shares the values of wanting to have a positive impact.
“It actually starts with everyone inside the organization understanding that the point of the business isn’t for business sake, but is to make a difference,” he says.
“Fortunately in the health-care world, we attract people who want to make a difference. So we hire people who have the same kind of values, who know that there’s more to go into work than just earning a paycheque.”
Instead of celebrating staff birthdays with a cake or more traditional party, Leading Edge uses the opportunity to give back to a staff member’s charity of choice. Staff also take time to visit and tour some of the local organizations they support, to better understand their operations and the need for their services. The company also makes a point of finding the fun in giving back. Staff routinely attend community events, galas, even golf or pickleball tournaments, all in the names of good causes.
“The beauty of a business where you enjoy each other’s company, and combine that with going to these kinds of events, it’s just another opportunity for us to spend time with one another, and make a difference at the same time,” he says.
Since 2011, Leading Edge has also organized RunWild, a walk and run in support of local charities. Over the years, the run has raised more than $792,000 for the Zebra Child Protection Center and the St. Albert Seniors Center, along with other charities.
For Fedoruk, the long-term success of initiatives like RunWild are a source of pride.
“My heart glows when I get to talk about the charities that we support,” says Fedoruk. “It’s a very rewarding feeling when the impact that your business has is felt in a much bigger way.”
Northern Lights Award of Distinction:
Mike Saunders, Senior Vice President, Qualico Properties
Mike Saunders has always had an interest in community development. As the senior vice president of Qualico Properties, he’s acutely aware of how buildings and spaces can influence the overall well-being of a city.
“I thought cities were built by engineers, architects and construction professionals. And then I’ve realized throughout my career that’s true, but it’s really only half the story,” he says.
“I’ve found that giving back where you can and where it matters to the organizations committed to the well-being within our communities is one of the most powerful ways to build a city that you can be really proud of.”
Through his work with Qualico Properties, Saunders focuses on building Edmonton into the type of city he’d like future generations to be able to enjoy. It’s about more than constructing buildings: he knows that social supports and non-profit organizations are essential pillars of any strong community.
“I feel like I’m this pendulum that swings from being involved with arts and culture, but also being involved in the bricks and mortar of city buildings,” he says. “My work takes on lots of different shapes and sizes, but it’s something where there’s really never a dull day.”
Whether supporting the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, advocating for mental health and addiction supports, or working with Edmonton’s Downtown Recovery Coalition, Saunders contributes his time and leadership expertise to a number of community initiatives. He focuses on causes that are “near and dear” to his heart, and stays committed to them, even if positive change takes time.
“There’s still a lot of work ahead on creating an environment that allows people to transition from homelessness, for instance. But that’s a bit of a legacy piece, it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight,” he says.
“There’s a group of us that are really focused on improving conditions for those folks, and I’m going to see that through.”
Saunders credits much of his community involvement to support he’s received from the leadership team at Qualico. The company’s tagline is “We help build better cities.”It’s something Saunders puts to practice every day in his work. He knows that the causes he chooses to support, and the foundations he helps to lay today will have a lasting impact on Edmonton.
“I am very fortunate to work for a company that puts a lot of effort in community building, and it’s actually something that we’ve worked around as a company, it’s been ingrained in our philosophy,” he says.
“It’s about people and relationships. That’s how communities are built.”
This content was produced to support the Edmonton Made community. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Edify staff.