Double win for Georgian alumnae at Premier’s Awards gala
November 22, 2016

Close-up head shot of Premier's Awards winner Aylan Couchie

Design and Visual Arts alumna Aylan Couchie

It’s a double win for Georgian College at the 2016 Colleges Ontario Premier’s Awards. Art and Design Fundamentals and Fine Arts – Advanced alumna Aylan Couchie won in the Recent Graduate category while Nursing alumna Dianne Martin won in the Health Sciences category. They were both recognized for their leadership and advocacy work at a gala in Toronto on Monday, Nov. 21.

The Premier’s Awards are granted to six individuals across the province annually and celebrate the outstanding contributions college graduates make to Ontario and throughout the world. More than 100 nominations were submitted by Ontario’s 24 public colleges in six categories:

  • Business
  • Community Services
  • Creative Arts and Design
  • Health Sciences
  • Recent Graduate
  • Technology

“Georgian College gave me the literal and figurative space to determine which areas of the arts I wanted to concentrate on and provided me with the foundation to move on to additional studies,” says Aylan, who graduated from Georgian in 2015. “There were so many incredible candidates nominated in my category and I am humbled to be chosen for this special distinction.”

Just a year out of college, Aylan has built an impressive list of career achievements. In August 2015, she was chosen from over 950 entries worldwide to receive the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the U.S.-based International Sculpture Center. Less than a month later, Aylan was honoured with the inaugural Native Women in the Arts Barbara Laronde Award, which celebrates the career of one outstanding, emerging Northern Ontario-based Indigenous female artist. Her artwork has also been featured in Sculpture magazine, an international publication that is distributed in more than 70 countries and has a readership of 37,000.

Aylan is also the winner of the Pratt Homes Sculpture competition that hand-selected four artists to design a sculpture to sit atop their new condominium in Barrie, as well as a rooftop patio piece and select works throughout the interior. Her work was chosen by the public against three seasoned and highly-esteemed sculptors. Once built, the piece (H.I.O. Big Chiefs) will be seen from Highway 400 as it looks out over Kempenfelt Bay in tribute to the Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek nations.

Aylan has made an indelible impact on the community. In 2014, she organized and launched Barrie’s first downtown art crawl, which featured local artists, fostered new relationships within the downtown merchant core, and led to partnerships that continue today.

Aylan says that she is inspired by her grandfather, a residential school survivor whose passed-down teachings greatly influenced her work and encouraged her to return to college as a mature student and single mother of three teenage boys.

Despite the many accolades, Aylan feels the most important part of her work is being part of the larger conversation about First Nations realities, including murdered and missing Indigenous women, current actualities facing First Nations communities across Canada, and residential school legacies.

Dianne Martin – passionate advocate for collaborative, patient-centred care and healthy, respectful work environments

Close-up head shot of Dianne Martin

Nursing alumna Dianne Martin

As the the Chief Executive Officer of the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO), Dianne provides leadership and advocates for the province’s thousands of registered practical nurses. She also works hard to make a difference in the lives of patients and nursing students through policies, reforms and education. Dianne graduated from Georgian in 1998.

Dianne is currently working to refocus healthcare decisions on the needs of patients, which will help them take control of their own wellness. She’s also spent a good portion of her career addressing the workplace bullying she says is prevalent in the industry and providing support to nurses suffering from work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dianne hopes the resources she and her team have created will assist employers, re-engage nurses in the profession, and help reduce or eradicate bullying and PTSD.

In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations and managing the RPNAO’s budget, Dianne visits healthcare organizations across the country to consult on nursing and how to improve patient outcomes and workplace satisfaction and retention.

Dianne also consults with many hospitals to help administrators understand and expand the nurses’ role and implement positive change. She also speaks regularly at conferences across the province on issues related to health and wellness education, and nursing issues in particular.

In addition to her leadership role, Dianne sits on nursing advisory committees at several colleges – including Georgian – and still finds time to teach in the classroom.

Four other accomplished Georgian nominees were considered for the 2016 Colleges Ontario Premier’s Awards:

  • Business Administration alumnus Bryan Marshman (Community Services category)
  • Business Administration – Automotive Marketing alumnus Peter Grande (Business category)
  • Survey Technician alumnus Peter Sullivan (Technology category)
  • Fine Arts alumnus Robert Hengeveld (Creative Arts and Technology)

“We are very proud of Aylan Couchie, Dianne Martin and our other nominees, both past and present,” says MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian College. “They are all shining examples of how a college education can be a springboard to incredible life and career success.”

To suggest a Georgian alumni for nomination for the 2017 Colleges Ontario Premier’s Awards, write to the college’s alumni office at [email protected].