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When the City of Barrie and the Barrie Community Foundation team up next Tuesday, it'll be to present the first gala to award two women receiving the city's highest honour: the Order of the Spirit Catcher.

The Southshore Community Centre will be abuzz November 19 while supporters and representatives of the Barrie Community Foundation and the City as well as the families of the recipients, plus friends, all gather to honour the 2013 Spirit Catcher recipients. Emcee for the evening is Brian Tamblyn, retired president of Georgian College. Guest speakers for the event are Marshall and Cesia Green, father-daughter lawyers and community activists. Marshall was a Spirit Catcher recipient in 2000.

Award recipients this year are Shannon Murree and Mackenzie Oliver. Both make incredible commitment to better the world they live in.

A local realtor, Shannon has experienced first hand the importance of the refuge and support of the Women's and Children's Crisis Centre in Barrie. She has become a tireless volunteer in supporting and advocating for social issues involving women and children.

She organized the One Billion Rising event in 2013 to build awareness of violence against women in our world. She has participated in Fighters for Fighters, and the Warrior Dash for the Women's and Children's Shelter. She was a strong participant in Habitat for Humanity's Women's Build and a keen voice in the 12 Ladies in a Tent fundraising effort for the Barrie Food Bank. It goes on and on, each activity geared to empower women and the safe nurturing of their children. Shannon believes this is a fundamental part of a healthy, mature society.

Mackenzie Oliver is receiving the Youth Order of the Spirit Catcher this year. This grade nine student is best known for her I Love Me Club, which she founded when she was 10 years old. With self esteem as its common thread, Mackenzie has been inducting members and producing I Love Me tee shirts, baby gear and adult shirts for several years.

It was logical that Mackenzie would attend a Craig Keilburger event at Georgian College and then take it a step further and participate in Craig's Me to We event at the Air Canada Centre. From that life- changing rally Mackenzie travelled to Africa in grade 7 to help build facilities for kids her own age. This summer she raised the money to go to India with the Free The Children charity.

Both recipients are honoured to receive this city's highest award. Both are also the first to receive their awards outside of a quiet City Council meeting, which is usually where presentations occurred... low key, quiet presentations.

Teaming up with the Barrie Community Foundation (BCF) raises the profile of the Spirit Catcher awards, and exults the environment in which they are presented. In honour of this inaugural event, the BCF is initiating the Spirit Catcher Endowment Fund. This will be open to all charities within the City of Barrie; allowing smaller charities to receive funds from the BCF.

This is particularly useful for donors who haven't chosen a charity and would like their donations to benefit several community efforts. One donation achieves many gifts.

Tuesday's event is open to the public, adults and students, with special pricing for each. Tickets are $75 per person, $125 per couple or $500 per table. Student tickets are $20. Ticket purchases have a partial charitable donation receipt. Kent Smith and Michael & Marion's Fine Dining will provide the cash bar services as well as plates of appetizers for the event

The fun begins at 6 pm and if you don't have your ticket yet, a quick call to BCF secretary Lorraine Maher will solve that. You can reach Lorraine at 705 792-7404 or by email at lmaher@groveparkhome.on.ca.

There are many whose efforts are making this event a reality. To the award recipients, thanks. To the organizers, thanks. To Robin Munro and Jazz Mandu, thanks. To Michael & Marion's, thanks. To the Barrie Community Foundation and the Spirit Catcher teams, thanks.

And to Mackenzie and Shannon... thanks!

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