Premier's Awards

Launched in 1992 by Colleges Ontario, The Premier’s Awards honour the influential social and economic contribution that college graduates make to Ontario and across the world. Each year, the Awards recognize Ontario graduates in the following seven categories:  Apprenticeship, Business, Community Services, Creative Arts and Design, Health Sciences, Recent Graduate and Technology.

Fanshawe Premier’s Award Recipients

Maria G. Mendes - Legal Secretary 1993

Since her graduation from Fanshawe’s Legal Secretary Program at the top of her class, Maria has also completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Western Ontario and the Bachelor of Law's at the University of Windsor. She was called to the Bar in London in 1987. As a legal secretary after leaving Fanshawe College, Maria became aware of the many barriers facing immigrants in accessing legal services. She was a founding director of the Portuguese Information Centre of London and the London Cultural Interpreter Steering Committee. Her work in the legal field helped her identify gaps in community services and she was also a founder of PAM's Gardens Non-Profit Housing Inc., work that has continued with her involvement in the London & Middlesex Housing Authority. Since becoming a lawyer, Maria has served on the London Police Services Board, of which she is currently the chairperson. Her continued devotion to serving her community to the fullest of her abilities have earned her the tribute of a Premier's Award.

Betty Bedard-Bidwell - Recreation Leadership 1972; Child Care Worker 1982

Premier’s Award winner ‘00. The words care and compassion are synonymous with Betty Bedard Bidwell. Each day she improves and heals the lives of children and youth in Huron County who have been victims of abuse or who face physical and developmental challenges. She founded Betamarsh Incorporated, an integrated series of programs and residences, to meet the needs of these clients. Betty graduated from Fanshawe in Recreation Leadership in 1972 and Child Care Worker in 1982. She is also recognized and highly respected at the Master's Level in art and play therapy. Betty has been instrumental in developing, promoting and teaching art and play therapy and among her many accolades, she earned the prestigious Monica Herbert Award from the Canadian Play Therapy Association. Betty spearheaded the writing of Hand in Hand: A Practical Application of Art and Play Therapy. For over 15 years, Betty has supported the Huron County Child Abuse and Prevention Committee. What she describes as her best piece of work is a program for adolescent girls aged 12 to 15 called Declaration of Pride, a practical way to raise self-esteem and awareness among girls. Without exaggeration, she has helped hundreds of children to recover from abuse and other traumatic situations. Early in her career, she identified a distinct gap in services for children and youth and she set out to find solutions. Betty credits her two college diplomas for giving her the skills and groundwork to build an incredibly rewarding and remarkable life. 

Kevin Doyle - Music Industry Arts 1979

Premier’s Award winner ‘08. A three-time Juno winner and Grammy nominee, Kevin is a 1979 graduate in Music Industry Arts and has an eclectic and impressive client list - Glenn Gould, Anne Murray, KISS, The Canadian Opera Company and Yo Yo Ma have achieved musical greatness with Kevin’s superior studio production skills.

Debbie Bodkin - Law and Security Administration 1982

Premier’s Award winner ‘10. Debbie is an internationally recognized police officer, investigator and public speaker. A graduate of Fanshawe College’s Law and Security Administration program, she has used her skills to become a sergeant in the Waterloo Regional Police Service’s Major Case Unit, dealing with violent and dangerous offenders. Despite her strong record as a police officer, Debbie is most noted for her work on investigations of war crimes in Kosovo, Darfur and Rwanda. She has given over 130 talks on the topics of global citizenship and genocide since 2005. Among many awards, she was named a Globe and Mail Nation Builder in 2008.

2016 - Chris Gower

(Construction Engineering Technology {Management} 1992)

What began with the simple joy of swinging a hammer eventually led Chris Gower to being named among the 2009 recipients of Canada's Top 40 Under 40. Chris was drawn to construction from an early age, spending hours watching and asking questions of workers building houses behind his childhood home in London. He got his first taste of the industry framing houses with his older brother during high school before enrolling in Fanshawe's Construction Engineering Technology program.

Inspired by the down-to-earth faculty who brought the curriculum to life with real-world examples from job sites, Chris credits Fanshawe for nurturing his passion and laying the groundwork that has enabled him to build a rewarding 20-year career with PCL Construction, the largest contractor in Canada, which he joined shortly after graduation.

By the age of 31, Chris was managing the company's operations in Saskatchewan. Later, under Chris' leadership, PCL's operations in the Greater Toronto Area grew from $350-million to $1.8-billion in revenue.

In November 2015, Chris continued his ascent by transferring to PCL’s Edmonton office to become Chief Operating Officer – Buildings responsible for 6,000 salaried employees and $6.5-billion of work throughout North America and Australia.

2019 - Don Ashton

(Business Accounting 1988; Business Administration 1989)

Don Ashton is Vice President of Finance, International Operations for 3M Company, overseeing the financial team of a $20B+ global business unit with 1,200 employees located in more than 50 countries. A member of 3M Executive Conference (~top 100 leaders) and Finance Steering Committee (top seven finance leaders), he is certified Black Belt Six Sigma known for developing high performing teams and top talent.
Over the past 30 years he has been an active community volunteer, most recently with Fundación Mujer, an organization that provides access to credit and micro-financing, training and technical assistance to entrepreneurs in Costa Rica.