Yukon’s own Morgan Wienberg has been recognized by Canada’s governor general for her exceptional work with children in Haiti.
Twenty-four-year-old Wienberg was among a group of Canadians honoured with the Meritorious Service Cross at a ceremony in Vancouver.
Only 45 people have ever received this award. Wienberg is the first Yukoner. She officially earned the award late last year but received her accolades at the ceremony last week.
“Each of these great Canadians is making this a better country, one day at a time, one remarkable act a time,” Governor General David Johnston said Friday.
“Today, we’re here to say thank you for your compassion, for your excellence, for your sacrifices.”
The award recognizes work that “sets an example for others to follow, improves the quality of life of a community and brings considerable benefit or honour to Canada,” according to the governor general’s office.
Wienberg’s work certainly meets those criteria.
In 2011, she co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps, a safe transitional house in Haiti for children who would likely otherwise be living in poverty and neglect.
The organization helps children get an education and families become self-sufficient. It reunites abandoned children with their relatives whenever possible.
Since January 2012, 130 children have been reunited with their families, according to the group’s most recent annual report.
Little Footprints, Big Steps has grown to 14 employees who are collaborating with local authorities on programming to help communities in Haiti.
Ten part-time tutors work across the country.
It has provided basic education for more than 250 children.
In 2014, Little Footprints, Big Steps joined a group of local organizations to run community training focused on prevention of violence and sexual abuse.
It hosted its first annual Street Child Meeting in December 2014, according to the most recent annual report. Fifty children who were living on the streets attended and got the opportunity to speak and learn about children’s rights.
“Following that meeting, we have been able to reunite approximately 30 of those children with their families and send them to school,” the report says.
Wienberg lives full-time in Haiti. During a trip home last year, she visited local schools to talk to students about her experience.
“I tell students now that anyone can make an impact on another person. You don’t have to be rich or have a university degree,” she told the News back then.
Past recipients of the Meritorious Service Cross include Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Olympian Clara Hughes.
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