Anaphylaxis Canada’s Laurie Harada was presented with The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal at a reception in Toronto last week. The commemorative medal marks the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada. Laurie was acknowledged for her advocacy efforts both as Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada and as the mother of a child with food allergies.
Laurie was awarded the medal by Legislative Assembly Speaker and Member of Provincial Parliament Dave Levac. Mr. Levac, a former educator, sponsored the Private Member’s Bill which became known as “Sabrina’s Law” in 2005. This groundbreaking legislation paved the way for similar laws around the world focused on creating reasonable accommodations to keep children with food allergies safe.
“I am deeply honoured to receive this prestigious medal,” said Laurie Harada.
The award is also recognition of a community which came together to ensure something good came from a terrible tragedy – Sabrina Shannon died after suffering an allergic reaction while at school at the age of 13. While accepting the award, Laurie recognized the many people who were instrumental in the realization of Sabrina’s Law. “It took the courage of Sabrina’s family – parents, Sara Shannon and Mike Shannon and Aunt Kathleen Whelan and Mary Shea; the vision of Dave Levac, a true champion for our cause; the passion and tenacity of Cindy Paskey, founder of a Niagara region support group; the expert opinion of allergist, Dr. Susan Waserman and her colleagues; the advocacy efforts of other allergy groups such as the Allergy/Asthma Information Association and Allergic Living magazine; and the dedicated staff and volunteers at Anaphylaxis Canada who worked around the clock, meeting with politicians and garnering community support and media awareness.”
Laurie also expressed her thanks to the Ontario Ministry of Education, which supported the schools with educational resources, and those who assisted in their development, such as Anaphylaxis Canada consultant Marilyn Allen. In presenting the award, Mr. Levac touched on the many initiatives Anaphylaxis Canada has worked on, including recent food labelling regulation changes, but returned to the impact of Laurie and the organization on creating a safer school environment for children with food allergies.
“Laurie’s drive and passion in building partnerships with government, industry, healthcare professionals and allergy associations was instrumental in passing Sabrina’s Law,” said the Hon. Dave Levac. “Because of Laurie, there is now an increase in the public’s understanding of food allergy and anaphylaxis. I awarded Laurie the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for her outstanding commitment to her community and her unwavering focus to ensure that our children remain safe and secure in our schools.”
This honour is a tribute to all of those who work to keep children and adults with potentially lifethreatening food allergies safe, and especially the late Sabrina Shannon.
For more information please contact:
Chris Holcroft, Empower Consulting