Denise LeBlond Award


2017 Award Recipient: Charan Gill, Former CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society

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Established in 1999, the Denise LeBlond Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose dedication and vision have furthered the cause of affordable housing in BC. Previous recipients can be viewed below.

Nominations for this award closed on September 28.

This award is generously sponsored by:


2017 Award Recipient: Charan Gill, Former CEO of Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society

For more than 40 years Charan Gill, author, entrepreneur, and founding president of the PICS Society, has initiated, operated and successfully run a variety of programs for immigrant youth, women, seniors and farmworkers. In 1978, Gill helped co-found the Canadian Farmworkers Union to improve the human rights, health and safety, and employment standards of farmworkers. In 1987, he co-founded the British Columbia Organization to Fight Racism, which later grew into the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society.

In 1987, Gill founded the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society and the Rainbow Community Health Co-operative, which work to meet the social and health needs of hundreds of people in the community. PICS Society provides programs and services that directly assist youth, seniors and new immigrants with the goal of promoting harmony and intercultural understanding. Gill has taken his many years of experience as a social worker and community activist to work on developing and implementing practical solutions to the community’s needs.

Most recently, PICS has been actively engaged in building a $30-million Multicultural Extended Seniors Care Home with a provision for 125 beds fully equipped to care for the elderly who need personalized attention in a culturally familiar setting in Surrey.

Gill has won countless awards for his work, including the Order of BC, the BC Human Rights Award by MOSAIC and the Golden Jubilee Medal. He was also one of RBC’s top 25 Canadian Immigrants in 2010 and in 2013 he was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Gill also served on the BCNPHA board of directors for two terms from 2006 to 2012.


The nominee:

  • Must have significantly contributed to affordable housing in BC.
  • Must be advised by the person that nominated him/her that their name has been submitted for the award.
  • Does not have to be from a BCNPHA member organization but does have to be from the housing sector.
  • May be a volunteer or an employee from the housing sector.

Award Criteria

Commitment and contribution to affordable housing:

  • Number of years involved in the affordable housing sector.
  • Number and variety of people and organizations affected by the person’s efforts and service.
  • Unpaid work performed – volunteer or beyond the call of duty.
  • New or expanded housing or service.
  • Changes in community attitudes and support for affordable housing resulting from their efforts.
  • Involvement in sector organizations.

Outstanding leadership and significant accomplishments in the field:

  • Leadership positions held in housing organizations and in the community.
  • Impact on local government policies, programs related to affordable housing.
  • Number of housing developments or programs initiated or involved with.

Vision and creativity in fostering a community development approach in the delivery of affordable housing:

  • Demonstrated links between the housing projects or programs involved with the community.
  • Specific examples of incorporating tenant or community interests into housing programs or projects.
  • Challenges faced and/or overcome in achieving new approaches, especially those later recognized as “visionary”
  • New tools or techniques that reduced reliance on government funding to develop or deliver affordable housing.

Commitment to affordable housing:

  • Non-profit
  • Serves low income households

Denise LeBlond (1948-1995)

Denise LeBlond devoted her career and personal time to help make a difference in her community, throughout British Columbia and across Canada. She worked tirelessly to advocate for affordable housing on a community level, to develop new housing programs for BC, and to keep non-profit housing on the national agenda.

As General Manager of the Capital Region Housing Corporation from 1984 to 1994, Denise took the Corporation in many new directions. She spoke to municipal councils, church congregations and service clubs about the importance of adequate, appropriate and affordable housing for all residents. In 1994, she was appointed as the Assistant Deputy Minister for Housing, where she was instrumental in the design of the Homes BC program.

Denise LeBlond was always a strong supporter of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and earned an Honorary Membership in the Association in 1995. She passed away in 1995 after a brave fight against cancer. The Denise LeBlond Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who, like her, devote their career and volunteer time to affordable housing.


Previous Recipients:

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