TORONTO, ON May 29, 2009 - The Catholic Civil Rights League is happy to announce that Frank Chauvin of Windsor, Ontario is this year’s winner of the League’s Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life. He will receive the award at the League’s annual dinner Wednesday June 3. The evening will include a talk by author and broadcaster Michael Coren, probably Canada’s most knowledgeable and most entertaining voice about media biases concerning religious faith.
Mr. Chauvin, a retired police detective, is the founder of the Holy Name of Mary Food Fund, which operates one of Haiti’s few orphanages for girls. He has also provided extensive hands-on support to other charities, including Madonna House and Canadian Food for Children.
A member of the Order of Canada since 1987, Mr. Chauvin brought a legal challenge in July, 2008 to request judicial review of the process by which the Order was given to Henry Morgentaler.
“Frank’s leadership in charity, especially in one of the most disadvantaged countries in the hemisphere, is a true inspiration for putting our faith into action where the needs are greatest,” said League President Phil Horgan. “His initiative in challenging the most controversial appointment in the Order of Canada’s history has engaged a more focused analysis of the process and recent history of how our nation’s highest civilian honour is awarded.
“It is ironic that a man who through his charitable work has assisted girls in Haiti is engaged in a challenge of the work of the advisory council that serves a woman originally from Haiti, the current Governor General, in an effort to demand accountability. Frank questions how those responsible have allowed the unifying purpose of the Order to be so tragically diminished.”
Mr. Chauvin thanked the League for the honour, and said that all the charitable work he has undertaken has been motivated by his faith, and a desire to do what is right.
“A great many people have supported this work, starting with my wife Lorraine. Without her help, and that of countless others, none of these projects would have happened.”
Background of Holy Name of Mary Food Fund
Mr. Chauvin began his charity work in the 70s, making the long trip from Windsor to Madonna House in Barry’s Bay to deliver toys and used clothing at Christmas time so that the apostolate could help needy families. He has often joked that it was an unusual start for him since he doesn’t like driving at the best of times and that first trip was “16 hours in the dark, on winter roads. It was a case of Lord, I love you, but send someone who likes driving. But I was back six weeks later with more donations.” He used his lunch hours to collect donations and his off hours for delivery, and his activities later expanded to other countries.
It was during his trips delivering food and medicine to Haiti that Mr. Chauvin noticed the serious lack of services for girls in that country. Orphanages were only taking in orphans and unwanted children up to age of six. After that, they were herded into detention compounds. What few services existed offered nothing for girls.
In 1987, Mr. Chauvin located a vacant building in Port-au-Prince with the capacity to house 50 girls and some local workers prepared to serve as administrators. He began a series of regular fundraising drives, including monthly donations from police colleagues, to bring the dream to reality, establishing the Holy Name of Mary Food Fund. The orphanage continues to serve 56 girls.
Mr. Chauvin and his wife, Lorraine, have 10 children and have sponsored refugees in their home through their church. He retired from the Windsor Police Service in 1988.
He received the Benemerenti papal medal on May 17. The medal was instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Church, their families and community
He has also received the I.O.D.E. Police Community Relations Award, Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, Law Enforcement Award (Optimist Club of Riverside), Family of the Year Award (Knights of Columbus 4924), and Gordon Preston Memorial Award as well as the Order of Canada.
Update on legal challenge
The legal challenge to the Order of Canada going to Dr. Morgentaler began last July, with an application for federal court review of the process by which the award was granted.
Nominations for the Order are reviewed by the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, which then gives their recommendations to the Governor General for approval. The challenge is based on the fact that most government boards and tribunals are subject to court review if their decisions are challenged. (Typically, decisions of the Governor-General are exempt from review under the custom of royal prerogative.)
“I have been quoted in the media as intending to return my award,” said Mr. Chauvin. “I may yet do so, but I first want Canadians to have a chance to take a close look at what can happen when an advisory council abandons a consensus model and uses the award to advance a highly divisive view, in this case the tragedy of abortion in Canada.”
About the award
The Archbishop Adam Exner Award was established by the League to honour Archbishop Exner upon his retirement as Archbishop of Vancouver in 2004. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in a variety of fields, including education, philanthropy, life issues and other concerns of interest to Catholics. Previous recipients include the late Regina business leader Frederick W. Hill for services to philanthropy, Campaign Life Coalition President Jim Hughes for services to the pro-life movement, J. Fraser Field, founder of Catholic Educators’ Resource Centre, for services to education, and Dr. and Mrs. Andrew and Joan Simone, co-founders of Canadian Food for Children, for services to philanthropy.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org