Innovation and impact award blog

Innovation and Impact Awards in honor of Lewis Perinbam

WUSC and Cooperation Canada, in collaboration with the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award, is pleased to launch the Innovation and Impact Awards. Innovation is at the core of Cooperation Canada’s work and is captured in our strategic directions. We aim to inspire and support the growth of a more relevant, responsive and effective global development and humanitarian assistance sector that, through innovation, can create sustainable impact. As such, Cooperation Canada and the trustees of the Lewis Perinbam Award would like to celebrate and recognize Canadian individuals and civil society organizations (CSOs) that are doing impactful and innovative work.

WUSC and Cooperation Canada define an Innovative Practice as: a new or more impactful means of, or approach to, addressing development challenges and improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable. An innovative practice can take many forms, it can be an innovation that is new to a particular context, but tried and true elsewhere. In addition, the innovative practice could be an approach, technology, business model, policy practice, partnership and more. To achieve impact through innovation, an Innovative Practice should align with The Whistler Principles to Accelerate Innovation for Development Impact.

These Awards will be granted to an individual and an organization that have demonstrated learning and impact from an innovative practice in international development and/or humanitarian response. The Awards recognize individuals and organizations that are using innovative and impactful means to: (1) address humanitarian, development, and/or peace challenges to build a more just and inclusive world; (2) inspire Canadians to undertake volunteer action on these issues; and/or (3) offer new ways of thinking about development, humanitarian and peace-related challenges.

2020 Individual Winner – Kehkashan Basu.

Iconic youth leader, global influencer, environmentalist, champion of women and children’s rights, TEDx speaker, Climate Reality Mentor, author, musician, peace and sustainability campaigner, 20-year-old Kehkashan Basu is a trailblazer who has been challenging the status quo and breaking social strictures and taboos that impede the progress and rights of future generations. A Forbes 30 Under 30 for Education, the only Canadian winner of the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize, and the first-ever Voices Youth Gorbachev-Schultz Legacy Award for her work on nuclear disarmament, Kehkashan is a tireless advocate for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She is a United Nations Human Rights Champion, a National Geographic Young Explorer, a UN-Habitat Young City Champion and the youngest ever Global Coordinator for the UN Environment Program’s Major Group for Children & Youth and one of Canada’s Top25 Women of Influence. 

Kehkashan is the Founding President of the global social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, which works at a grassroots level in 16 countries, empowering young people, especially those from vulnerable communities – amongst them, Syrian refugees, Rohingya refugees, children of prisoners in Nepal and Kenya, and Covid-affected communities in Bangladesh and Liberia. Using education for sustainable development as a transformative tool, Kehkashan’s work has directly impacted over 130,000 young people globally. A powerful voice for future generations, she has spoken at over 200 United Nations and other global fora across 25 countries. Her internationally acclaimed work on sustainability has resulted in her being named one of the Top 100 SDG Leaders in the world. She is the youngest member of Canada’s Women in Renewable Energy forum, a Councillor at World Future Council, a Board of Trustee member at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and the Council Lead at Toronto-St. Paul’s Constituency Youth Council, Canada.

2020 Organizational Winner – Développement International Desjardins (DID)

Created in 1970, Développement international Desjardins (DID) is a Desjardins Group component whose goal is to strengthen the inclusive finance sector and provide populations of developing and emerging countries access to secure, diversified financial services that fit their needs.

2019 Individual Winner – Jim Cornelius.

Jim Cornelius has served as the Executive Director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank for more than 20 years.  In that time, he not only led the organization, but in many ways also led the broader sector and food security community. Jim was instrumental in building innovative partnerships and uniting diverse stakeholders in strengthening Canada’s food aid responses. He also played a leadership role in facilitating the international development sector’s ongoing positive collaboration with the government. Not only has Jim supported the development of an impactful and aligned community in support of international development, he has also dedicated his time to mobilize Canadians in support of global challenges.

2019 Organization Winner – iDE Canada.

iDE Canada creates income and livelihood opportunities in development countries around the world. iDE Canada with partners across iDE has developed an innovative model to solve the significant challenge of sanitation in rural Ghana.  Driven by local engagement and leadership, the organization established a standalone business focused on selling sanitation products and services in a challenging market.

2018 Winner – The Honourable Senator Ratna Omidvar, C.M., O.Ont.

Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. She came to Canada from Iran in 1981 and her own experiences of displacement, integration and citizen engagement have been the foundation of her work. In April 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Ms. omidvar to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario. As a member of the Senate’s Independent Senators Group she holds a leadership position as the Scroll Manager. Senator Omidvar is also the Deputy Chair of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector. Read more…

2017 Winner – Robert Muggah

Robert is a Canadian political scientist whose work over the past two decades has impacted millions of people; reducing armed violence in some of the world’s most challenging conflict settings through policy, practice, and academia. As the Co-founder and Research Director of the Igarapé Institute and the SecDev Foundation, Robert is committed to identifying evidence-based and technology-enabled solutions to security, development, and human rights. Read more…

2016 Winner – Abraam Isaac

Abraam Isaac is the co-founder and co-executive director of Innovative Canadians for Change (ICChange), a non-profit organization with the mandate of improving the quality of life and security of vulnerable populations worldwide through sustainable models of development. Through his involvement with ICChange, Abraam has been instrumental in the development and implementation of several projects in various health related fields, including water and sanitation, electronic medical records and health informatics, and trauma and injury prevention and treatment. ICChange’s work has been recognized and funded by several national and international organizations, including Grand Challenges Canada, the International Development Research Centre and the Clinton Global Initiative. Abraam’s work with the world’s disadvantaged has taken him many parts of the world, including East Africa and Southeast Asia. He has had the opportunity to work closely with remote rural populations, low-income communities in some of Africa’s largest slums, and refugees on the Thai-Burma border.

Abraam received his medical degree in 2010 from the University of Alberta. After completing his residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Infectious Diseases, he joined the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alberta as a staff consultant.

Click here for more past winners.


About Lewis Perinbam

Lewis Perinbam

Lewis Perinbam, O.C. (1925-2007) was admired and appreciated for his vast contributions to Canadian participation in development. Mr. Perinbam, who was born in Malaysia and educated in Scotland, was committed to sharing his knowledge of the developing world with Canadians who wanted to make a difference. He was the founding Executive Director of CUSO, the first full time Secretary-General of the Canadian National Commission for UNESCO and was for many years the General Secretary and CEO of World University Service of Canada (WUSC).

Joining the Canadian International Development Agency in 1969, he became the founding Director General of the Non-government Organizations Division, which he both pioneered and championed in the Agency and was later named Vice President, Special Programs – now the Canadian Partnership Branch. He continued to be sought after for important leadership and consultative roles. He led the Task Force on the Participation of Visible Minorities in the Public Service, whose 2000 report won respect – and generated change – throughout government and industry.

In October 1997 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Mr. Perinbam served on numerous NGO Boards of Directors and was a longstanding advisor to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE).

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