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Trailblazers Changing the Culture of Aging to be Recognized at the Walk with Me Conference

Mar 21, 2024 | Media

Waterloo, ON – The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) and Capital Care are proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Trailblazer Awards. Now in their second year, the Trailblazer Awards spotlight individuals and organizations from across Canada who are driving transformative change in the culture of aging through innovative initiatives, programs, and everyday practices.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the remarkable achievements of these trailblazers,” said Tina Mah, executive director, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. “Their contributions are an inspiration to us, paving the way for a more inclusive and vibrant future for older adults everywhere.”

Award recipients were selected from a talented group of nominees for their dedication and commitment to changing the culture of aging. They are challenging conventional norms, reshaping perceptions, and actively fostering age-positive environments and experiences. 

Congratulations to this year’s Trailblazer Award recipients, presented by the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging and CapitalCare:

Carole Estabrooks, is a health services researcher and Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Translation in the care of older adults. She is the Scientific Director and co-founder of the Pan-Canadian longitudinal research program, Translating Research in Elder Care (TREC). TREC’s mission is to develop sustainable practical solutions and tools to improve the quality of care provided to older adults, enrich the work life of their caregivers, and enhance the effectiveness in residential long-term care. Carole’s research has expanded from the western provinces to the east coast of Canada. In recognition of her dedication to research in LTC, Estabrooks has received several awards/distinctions including the Order of Canada (2016). 

Dawn Baxter (care partner) and Mary Beth (person living with dementia), have transformed their personal journey of caring for and living with dementia into a powerful advocacy mission. They openly share their challenges, triumphs, and insights to shape a compassionate and informed society that embraces, understands, and supports people living with dementia. Their involvement in speaking engagements, dementia-inclusive roundtables and advisory boards, research, dementia-related education and service development programs, as well as the Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) team exemplifies their dedication to creating impactful change within the healthcare landscape. 

Kim Schmidt, CEO of Sherbrooke Community Centre, received a Trailblazer Award for the iGen program. A first-of-it’s kind in Canada and successfully operating for 10 years, the program brings together the Sherbrooke Community Centre Long-Term Care Home and Saskatoon Public School Division Gr. 6 class. Students spend their school year learning in various parts of the LTC home and building relationships with residents that nourish the mind, body, and spirit for all.

Ruth Watkiss, Music Therapist, Alzheimer Society Peel, has been helping clients, team members, and community members to live life to the fullest through music for more than 20 years. Ruth has created various initiatives from an intergenerational program with high school students to developing a partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Ruth helped ASP to become the first Music Care Certified organization in Canada and trained over 20 team members in integrating and sustaining music across the organization. Ruth hopes to expand this and train more workers from ASP and the community. 

Bryce McBain, General Manager, Village of Riverside Glen long-term care home, has an innate enthusiasm for people, no matter their age, and he inspires his team to look at each resident as someone with goals, dreams, and ambitions, all worthy of attention. Bryce, and his fellow leaders encourage the Village team to balance acceptable risk to support residents making the most out of every day. A culture where residents’ life choices are not only honoured but celebrated is the foundation of Village life. 

Recipients will participate in an award ceremony and panel discussion at the Walk with Me Culture Change Conference on May 2 to share their journeys and learnings. Come meet them in person and hear how they’re changing the culture of aging at Walk with Me:


For further information, please contact:
Jennifer Judges
Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA)

About the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging

The Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) is a charitable, non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and care of older adults. The RIA tackles some of the biggest issues facing an aging population by driving research and innovation to improve education and practice. The RIA develops and shares solutions that make a difference to benefit older adults everywhere. Learn more at

About Walk with Me

Walk with Me is a national conference aimed at changing the culture of aging in Canada. Older adults/residents, care partners, educators, policymakers, students and researchers from all over the country come together to learn with and from each other about how to enhance the journey of aging across the continuum of care and community living.

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