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CDHA Awards sponsored by SUNSTAR G•U•M

CDHA Oh Canada! Reader's Choice Award

The Oh Canada! Reader's Choice Award - sponsored by SUNSTAR G•U•M - celebrates the important role that Oh Canada! authors play in the knowledge translation of best practices in dental hygiene . Four articles from Oh Canada!, CHDA's quarterly membership magazine, will be selected annually as finalists by the editor. CDHA members will then vote on their favourite to determine the winner.

CDHA Oh Canada! Readers’ Choice Award - 2015 Recipient

Jennifer Cicci, RDH


Jennifer, RDH, is the recipient of this year’s Oh Canada! Readers’ Choice award for her article, “My Journey with Cancer: A Dental Hygienist’s Perspective,” published in the Spring 2015 issue. Jennifer was born and raised in Calgary, and moved to Toronto 20 years ago where she married and raised four boys. Once her children were all in school full time, Jennifer returned to college to pursue her dream of becoming a dental hygienist. She graduated in November 2007 at the age of 40. In December 2013, she received a diagnosis of stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma in her right tonsil and base of tongue. Since completing treatment, she has returned to her job in orthodontics and uses the knowledge gained on her medical journey to educate and elevate awareness about HPV-related cancers, the importance of early detection, and how to prevent infection from the virus. Jennifer embraces the opportunity to reach people personally and talk about her story and this epidemic. She plans to keep her knowledge current about prevention, causes, and treatment of HPV, and the related cancers that can occur, in order to continue raising awareness.

CDHA Oh Canada! Readers’ Choice Award - 2014 Recipient

Susan Young


Susan, DipDH, RDH, is the winner of the inaugural CDHA Oh Canada! Readers’ Choice award for her article, entitled “Connecting with Dementia Clients,” which was published in the Fall 2013 issue of the magazine. Susan is a 1989 graduate of Algonquin College in Ottawa. She worked full time in private practice for many years and now divides her time between private practice, part-time teaching in the dental hygiene degree program at the University of British Columbia, and running her company, Dental Hygenix, which provides mobile dental hygiene care. She is thrilled to be a member of one of the first dental hygiene study clubs in British Columbia which is still going strong 18 years later. In a previous life she completed 25 marathons and four Ironman triathlons

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award

The CDHA Global Health Initiative Award - sponsored by SUNSTAR G•U•M - is for a registered dental hygienist who has committed to volunteering as part of an initiative to provide oral health related services to persons in a disadvantaged community population or country.

Award expanded! Now includes 2 categories:

  • International (outside Canada)
  • National (inside Canada)


CDHA Global Health Initiative Award, National Category - 2015 Recipient

Karen Ergus, RDH, JD


Karen Ergus graduated from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law in April 2014 with a Juris Doctor, concentrating in professionalism and alternate dispute resolution. With over 25 years as a dental hygienist and background in dental hygiene, she decided to collaborate with community partners in 2012 to launch a pilot project at the Youville Centre called “Promoting Self-Responsibility for Better Dental Health.” This initiative aimed to improve the overall health of single mothers and their children by providing them with free dental care, as well as oral health information and instruction on preventing maternal and child tooth decay in order to ensure that children learn healthy habits from a young age. Karen believes in reducing the root causes of poor oral health and, in 2014, was awarded $3,100 from the University of Ottawa for global sustainable community development. The following year, Karen founded and collaborated with community partners on the organization of a dental charity ball in Ottawa to raise more awareness and promote oral health access for several local and national charities. The Dental Charity Ball was the first event of its kind, bringing like-minded oral health professionals together for an important cause. Karen will continue to advocate access to oral care as a dental hygienist and lawyer.

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award, International Category - 2015 Recipient

Kimberly Daley, RDH


Born in Sudbury, Ontario, Kimberly Daley is a registered dental hygienist with over 16 years of dental hygiene experience on multidisciplinary dental teams in private practice and community health settings. In 2004, she founded Nine Miles of Smiles (NMS), a Canadian registered charity that provides dental care to underserviced areas in Jamaica. From the beginning, NMS has striven to increase access to dental care in marginalized communities. Volunteers work with local groups in cities, remote towns, and isolated villages to provide much-needed dental services and resources for sustainable programs. Kimberly currently lives in Toronto with her husband and 3-year-old son, and works at City Orthodontics and at George Brown College as a clinical instructor in the dental assisting and dental hygiene programs.

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award, National Category - 2014 Recipient

Sue Lighthall


Sue graduated as a dental hygienist from the University of Toronto and was licensed to practice in BC in 1966. She has been a member of the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association and the British Columbia Dental Hygienists Association (BCDHA) and its component societies, and has served on the local executives and the BCDHA Board since the beginning of her career, with the exception of the years when she was studying for her degree.

Although she has worked primarily in a general practice, she has also worked in public health, taught at Camosun College (Victoria, BC) in its certified dental assisting program, and worked in a periodontal practice. She has been happy to see the huge change in oral health over the years, which she attributes strongly to the profession of dental hygiene. Sue is proud to have been part of this change over the many years that she has practised.

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award, International Category - 2014 Recipient

Pauline Leroux


Since 2011, Pauline has committed to volunteering abroad to assist vulnerable populations living in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Peru. Her most recent outreach project involved travel to Peru with the Kindness in Action organization for seven days. Each day, arriving by boat, Pauline set up the dental care clinics under outdoor canopies, in school classrooms, and community centres. One of the biggest challenges of this project was carrying equipment from the boats and creating a new clinic each day.

Pauline embraces the journey of planning and working with other health care professionals towards a common goal. She says that the opportunity to connect with children and families while providing dental hygiene care is a humbling experience and has changed her forever. Each year her husband and 9-year-old son year budget for Pauline to take part in these humanitarian initiatives. The commitment that Pauline has demonstrated has been a valuable life lesson for her family about giving back to others. In 2015, Pauline plans to return to Peru to serve the communities in the Sacred Valley.

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award - 2013 Recipient

Michelle Ediger


Michelle has been practicing in the dental field since 2001, first as a RDA and, since 2009, as a RDH. Her first trip to Africa was in 2005, and it changed her world. Since then, she knew that she would return on a regular basis to share her skills and help others to smile. This year will mark her sixth trip to Africa. The joy that she feels from the people with whom she interacts makes her realize that the privileged world can learn so much from those who live in poverty. Her clients in Africa always express a sincere gratitude for the treatment that otherwise would not have been available to them in their communities. When at home, Michelle resides in Jasper, Alberta, and keeps as active as possible in the mountains.

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award - 2012 Recipient

Kari Hancock of Cochrane, Alberta


Congratulations to Kari for her work with Dentistry for All in Guatemala. Kari has made two trips to Guatemala with this organization. Her most recent trip was 18 days long and required her to provide some of her own equipment and supplies in addition to covering living expenses while in Guatemala and getting vaccinations and preventive medications. Kari saw 10-14 patients per day many of whom had never had scaling! Kari found it rewarding to remove years of stain and calculus, visibly changing their smiles immediately and knowing that it would make a big difference in their overall health and self-esteem. Dentistry for all is currently trying to establish a permanent dental clinic in Comi, Guatemala that will run year-round. Currently the clinic is operating as an educational and preventative centre, with a local teacher providing oral hygiene instruction and information in the schools in and around Comi. This teacher has been trained in a dental clinic at a hospital in Guatemala City and helps by doing dental screening which helps facilitate future visits by DFA groups. Kari plans to return to Comi and has decided to take a local anaesthetic course to expand her role on future volunteer trips.

Photo: Kari Hancock with Guatemalan friend (photo courtesy of Charles Hope, photographer for Dentistry for All)

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award - 2010 Recipient

Leanne Rodine

This honour, with a $3,000 prize, is presented to Leanne Rodine of Calgary, AB, a dental hygienist who has committed to volunteering as part of initiative to provide oral health related services to a disadvantaged community or country. [more]

Leanne has volunteered with the 1000 Smiles initiative in Jamaica since the beginning of the project. Beyond the clinical activities, recent projects have included a scientific study on the efficacy of enamel sealants and fluoride varnish in Jamaican children and a comprehensive education program in schools that includes culturally appropriate primary school lesson plans. Thanks to 1000 Smiles, over 15,000 Jamaicans received free dental services in 2010, and the program has Leanne's commitment for years to come.

CDHA Global Health Initiative Award - 2009 Recipient

Andrea Slater

This honour, with a $3,000 prize, is presented to Andrea Slater of Vancouver, BC, a dental hygienist who has made a commitment to volunteering as part of an initiative to provide oral health related services to a disadvantaged community or country. [more]

In 2008, when Andrea was nearing graduation she contacted the charity, Kindness in Action (KIA) Service Society of Alberta, and set in motion events that would help realize her commitment to provide oral care services to a disadvantaged community. In 2009, Andrea travelled with a group of twentyfour volunteers to Cambodia to the Peaceful Children's Home orphanages in Chamnaon village, and then to a prison near Battambang to provide oral health care. She was able to collect donations of sufficient oral hygiene aids to provide for all the children and inmates, and through interpreters taught self care techniques, and provided debridement services. Andrea has made a firm promise to continue volunteering with KIA and hopes to inspire other dental hygienists to investigate volunteer activities.


CDHA Achievement Award

not offered in 2014

The CDHA Achievement Award - sponsored by SUNSTAR G•U•M - is for a student who is enrolled in the final year of a dental hygiene program and who has overcome a major personal challenge during his/her dental hygiene education.

CDHA Achievement Award - 2013 Recipient

Ashley Corsiatto, Alberta


Ashley was born in Olds, Alberta, and currently calls Calgary home. She was a registered dental assistant for 8 years before returning to school for her dental hygiene diploma, graduating recently from the Ontario Dental Education Institute. Her interests include knitting and running. Ashley recently completed her first half marathon.

CDHA Achievement Award - 2012 Recipient

Carolyn Maloney of Lacombe, Alberta


Carolyn, through providing primary caregiver responsibilities to extended family during her dental hygiene education learned that change can be a very overwhelming process. She realized that while she cannot make health or lifestyle decisions for others, she can strive to empathize with their special needs and challenges. Carolyn came to realize that trust, love and authenticity in any relationship is challenging and time consuming to build, but easy to lose. This knowledge motivates her to be sensitive towards the diverse needs of people with whom she interacts. This experience has influenced the way she practices dental hygiene. She realized that health literacy was a steep barrier for many senior citizens, which motivated her to simplify oral health instructions by using repetition and providing large-print resources. Carolyn aims to be proactive against diabetes by encouraging all clients to have blood glucose tests every three months. She states that "perhaps the most significant adaptations I will make stem from compassion. Simple errands, such as attending a dental visit, can be daunting for medically compromised and geriatric clients due to barriers such as arranging transportation, failing memory and mobility issues. Providing care in a patient, accommodating, and personalized manner is paramount." Thanks for the great reminder, Carolyn!

CDHA Achievement Award - 2010 Recipient

Andrea Laltoo

This honour, with a $2,000 prize, is presented to Andrea Laltoo from Oulton College, Moncton, NB, a student who has overcome a major personal challenge during her dental hygiene education. [more]

Since beginning her dental hygiene program in 2009, Andrea has been immersed in legal-ese and immigration forms hoping to obtain a positive outcome to the visa application that would allow her to join her American husband who currently resides on the opposite side of the continent. In 2010, to add to Andrea's stress and anxiety, she was struck by an automobile while riding her bicycle. This incident, while psychologically damaging, has reinforced her involvement in advocacy for active transportation and heightened safety enforcement on the roads. Overall, her involvement with scrupulous documentation and legal processes has inspired Andrea to both further her professional education and become involved in the promotion of community health.

CDHA Achievement Award - 2009 Recipient

Kera McClement

This honour, with a $2,000 prize, is presented to Kera McClement of Riverview, NB, a student who has overcome a major personal challenge during her dental hygiene education. [more]

Kera was completing her college chemistry prerequisites when her son was born in May 2008. He was extremely ill; and was hospitalized for three months. His doctors gave a very guarded prognosis. Devastated by this news, Kera nevertheless brought her textbooks to the hospital and studied by his side in order to complete her course.

Her son proved to be a fighter, and was released after many tests and surgeries just as Kera began first year dental hygiene studies. That year was very challenging as financial hardships, as well as caring for an infant who had repeated hospital admissions meant physical and mental exhaustion. In addition, Kera's own father was deployed to Afghanistan at this time. During her second year of studies, Kera's son required additional surgery, and dealing with his further health complications required the administration of medications every three hours around the clock. Inspired by her child's struggle, Kera has persevered through these challenges and has realized that through overcoming these obstacles she has developed the skills essential to grow and contribute as a health professional herself.