2015 IW Winners

Thunder Bay | Trailblazer Award

Nancy Angus

Nancy Angus

Nancy Angus doesn’t have to look far to find inspiration in her day-to-day life.

Her 97-year-old mom — who she calls “an incredible role model to me” — once delivered her some sage advice, and Angus continues to live by it.

“You can either hang back and complain,” she reasons, “or you can just get involved and celebrate your community.”

It was prescient guidance for Angus, who’s leading the charge in developing Thunder Bay into a vibrant, active community through her role as the community program developer for older adults for the City of Thunder Bay. She promotes, brings awareness to, and meets the needs of seniors and older adults in the community.

Amongst the initiatives she’s developed over the years is the Dome Walkers program, which welcomes people over 55 to walk, twice a week, in the local sports dome during the winter months, free of charge.

There is the Snowshoe 55 Club, which offers Monday afternoon snowshoeing excursions, and the Retirement Explorers program, which aims to ease retirees into their post-working lives by engaging them in social and recreational activities.

Chop and Chat teaches men some basic cooking skills in a social setting, while the Fun Active Babes (FAB) program offers women fitness and friendship.

Describing her as “a tireless champion for seniors,” nominator Cindy Maki said Angus goes about her work humbly and quietly, “admired, loved and honoured for her dedication, undying commitment, and abundance of fantastic ideas that just keep on coming.”

Angus said her goal is simply to create a community where people can have fun, create new friendships, and remain active in their later years.

Impressed by the strength of the older role models she’d had in life, like her grandmother and mother, she found early work volunteering with older adults at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, which has translated into a long career working in older adult recreation.

Stories from the past, a resiliency that comes with experience, and a continued interest in learning and growing add up to a richness in the senior demographic that Angus finds uplifting.

“We’re always focusing on children and youth, but I think we really need to look at this older population, because we are living so much longer,” Angus said. “Something like a walking group can keep people out of the doctor’s office, so it’s really simple little things we can do if we just make it kind of fun and make it something that people want to participate in. We can make an economic impact that way.”

Recreation tends to be undervalued, Angus said, but it can add so much to a community, from the programming to the relationships made by simply looking out for others in your neighbourhood.

Maki, owner of True Vision Energy Coaching, calls Angus a visionary who has a compassion for people and works unremittingly to enrich their lives.

“Nancy is a leader who engages people in meaningful activities to provide their best experience so they are fulfilled, excited, and ready to take on the world,” Maki writes. “She is an innovator with unmatched creativity and a contagious, make-it-happen attitude.”

Angus is hopeful that this recognition of her work will encourage others to follow in her footsteps and help people realize how much they can bring to their communities just by getting involved.

“Northern Ontario is a good place to learn and be part of the community and, I think, through the work that I’ve done, I’ve helped to strengthen our communities,” she said. “I think we live in a great part of the world and I’m honoured to be a trailblazer; I hope I can wear this honour proudly.” IW

Sponsored by: