2013 Recipients

LOCAL Award: Shirley Combden

The LOCAL Making A Difference Award is presented to an individual who has displayed outstanding dedication or has been responsible for outstanding accomplishments of local significance in multiple births issues within Canada.


The winner of the 2013 LOCAL award is Shirley Combden, of the Edmonton Twin & Triplet Club.

The members of ETTC count themselves very lucky indeed to have Shirley as one of their most trusted volunteers.  Shirley is a friend, a confidante, an advisor, a leader, and a force within the Edmonton Twin & Triplet Club. Since 1998 she has held all of the volunteer positions within the club, including but not limited to Sales coordinator, Alumni, Casino Chair, Treasurer, Vice-President, President and Past-President.  She was also Co-Chair of the committee that organized the 2010 MBC Conference held in Edmonton.

The volunteers that work alongside Shirley simply cannot say enough about her – some of their comments included:

  • “Shirley is extremely dedicated and focused.”

  • “Her strength to always be there in the time of need is commendable. She will always go the extra mile to ensure the Club and its members are taken care of.  I take pride in calling Shirley my friend.”

  • “We are so thankful that Shirley has dedicated so much time to both ETTC and MBC.  She has been a huge asset to the club in so many ways and has been an important part of growing ETTC to where it is now.  Kudos to her!”

  • “Shirley has been an amazing source of information, guidance and support to all of us on the executive.” 

  • “If there is one person I can always turn to for advice or support, it is always Shirley.”


Shirley is very passionate about helping those in the multiple-birth community.  Not only has she donated so much of her time in the Edmonton community, but she is also actively involved on the National level as MBC’s Finance Director and also the Co-Chair.  In addition to all of her volunteer duties, Shirley is also busy with her own job, and raising her family which includes her twins who graduated Grade 9 this year and are very active in sports, and her older son who just recently graduated from the University of Alberta. 

The Edmonton Twin & Triplet Club did not hesitate to nominate Shirley for a Making A Difference Award – she simply does just that on a daily basis for all of their members.  Because of the dedication she shows to multiple births families, Multiple Births Canada and the MADA committee are very pleased to present this year’s Local Making a Difference Award to Shirley Combden of the Edmonton Twin & Triplet Club.

National Award: Sana Hassainia

The MADA NATIONAL award is presented to an individual who has displayed outstanding dedication or has been responsible for outstanding accomplishments of national significance in multiple births issues in Canada.


The 2013 National Making a Difference Award was presented to Sana Hassainia, NDP Member of Parliament from Quebec.


In November 2012, Member of Parliament Sana Hassainia introduced a private members bill, Bill C 464 for Parental Leave for Multiple Births or Multiple Adoptions. Her sole reason for presenting this bill was that she wanted to make a difference while she was an MP, and through her research she decided that the fact that Multiple Birth families do not receive extra benefits was simply not right.  In her own words, “The birth of twins has exploded in the last 30 years in Quebec and across Canada.  The phenomenon is growing, but assistance is not.  It’s time for the government to support parents to ensure they have a good experience.”

For the last 7 years, MBC has been advocating through various avenues for this kind of recognition and change to EI parental leave benefits. Christian Martin has battled in the courts for years to change the current regulations for Employment Insurance benefits for families who have twins or more.  Ms Hassainia heard about this work and was able to push the issue forward into the spotlight – not only in Ottawa, but across the country. In the course of introducing and rallying for this Bill, she was able to change many minds in Ottawa – not only in her own party, but in the Liberal party and others as well.  The second reading of the Bill, held in March 2013, was very close and only lost by 10 votes.  MBC has hope that in the future, the challenges faced by those raising more than one infant at a time will be recognized by the government; it is MPs like Sana Hassainia who can truly make a difference.

The MADA committee and MBC both feel that due to her proactive approach and her dedication to multiple-birth families across Canada, NDP MP Sana Hassainia is more than deserving of receiving the 2013 National Making a Difference Award.

Ms Hassainia had the following to say upon learning of her award: 

“I am greatly honored with this Making a Difference Award. Obviously, I was one of many people who were nominated for this award, and I am sure that each of them is worthy of this prize. I am truly grateful to receive this prize and want to thank you for supporting me. For me, it is a recognition of our (my) hard work related to Bill C-464 on parental leave for multiple births.

I can't pass over the tremendous help Multiple Births Canada provided me with in the past year; it has been a pleasure for me to work along with this great organization and its fantastic volunteers and employees. Today, I am sure that the issue of parental leave for parents of multiple has gained a lot more media attention and public awareness, and soon I am sure that we will be able to complete our hard legislative work and see this bill become a law in Parliament!”

International Award: Dr. Barbara Luke

The MADA INTERNATIONAL award is presented to an individual who has displayed outstanding dedication or has been responsible for exceptional accomplishments of international significance in multiple births issues and that has a Canadian element or impact on the Canadian multiple-birth community.


This year’s recipient has always been a strong supporter, educator, and really has dedicated her professional life to the multiple birth community on an international scale.  However this past year, she made a very specific and sizeable difference to families in Canada.


The 2013 Making a Difference International Award winner is Dr. Barbara Luke


Her area of expertise is the nutrition necessary for prenatal care while expecting multiples, where she has built an international reputation with her book When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets and Quadruplets (3rd edition, 2011).

In 2011, Dr. Luke gave an excellent key-note speech at the Multiple Births Canada national Conference in Windsor, speaking about prenatal health and nutrition and how our volunteers could best pass that information along to those in their community expecting twins or more.  She graciously donated her time for this presentation, charging no speaking fee, and many felt her talk was a highlight of the Conference that year.

This past year, Dr. Luke went above and beyond even that generosity when she made a personal donation to MBC.  Her company, Barbara Luke Maternity, recently developed a line of maternity clothing designed specifically for women expecting multiples. These beautiful clothes are designed for professional or formal occasions, and meet a unique need for mothers who gain more than the average weight because they are carrying more than one child.  In an effort to help Multiple Births Canada, and our affiliate chapters across the country, Dr. Luke donated four maternity tops and dresses in a variety of sizes and colours for every single MBC chapter.  These clothes could be used as loaners for members, or could be used as raffle items or to sell as fundraisers to support Chapter activities.  It’s impossible to measure the individual affect this had on Chapters and their members, but the approximate dollar value of this donation was over $15,000.

Because of her wealth of knowledge and her support of all multiple birth families in Canada and across the world, and specifically because of her generosity and support of Multiple Births Canada, MBC and the MADA committee are pleased to present Dr. Barbara Luke with the 2013 International Making a Difference Award.

Dr. Luke had the following to say upon learning of her award:  “What a lovely surprise! It has been an honor and a privilege to help so many families with twins, triplets, and quads. Canada has always had a special place in my heart, so helping Canadian families is even more special. Thank you so much for this honor.”

Media Award: Kelly Roche

The MADA MEDIA award is presented to an individual and/or newspaper, magazine, radio or television outlet that printed or aired a story in the previous year which created awareness of multiple-birth issues, individual chapters, or spotlighted MBC and/or chapter initiatives.

Kelly Roche of the Ottawa Sun. Winner of the 2013 Making a Difference Award (MADA)

The 2013 Media Making a Difference Award goes to Kelly Roche, of the Ottawa Sun.

Many times MBC and our local Chapters approach media for coverage of our events and supports and services.  We want to make sure we’re getting the word out to families that need our support and may not know about us.  That’s why it’s such a pleasant surprise when we are approached by the media – which is exactly what happened when Multiple Births Families Association of Ottawa-Gatineau were contacted by Kelly Roche.  Specifically Kelly wanted to highlight what life was like for mothers of multiples, to run on Mother’s Day 2013.  The article, entitled Celebrating Mothers, ran in the Sunday edition of the Ottawa Sun and included front page coverage reaching hundreds of

families in the Ottawa area. The article featured three separate families and their day-to-day challenges and successes. Each family received a beautiful photo taken by a professional photographer from the paper, and the MBFA Chapter received some wonderful advertising.  Since then, Kelly has supported MBFA with publicity during sales and for National Multiple Births Awareness Day, and she also is trying to put together another story about fathers – possibly to run on Father’s Day next year. 

It is with pleasure that we award the 2013 Media Making a Difference Award to Kelly Roche, and the Ottawa Sun.  Kelly added the following comment upon learning of her award:  “It is a great honour to be recognized by Multiple Births Canada; giving pause to realize the impact of a single story.”

Corporate Award: Bell Media

The MADA CORPORATE award is presented to an individual, business, corporation or organization who at the national level, in their professional capacity, created an awareness of the challenges faced by Canada's multiple birth children and their families, and/or have made a significant impact on the multiple-birth community and/or Multiple Births Canada.

Logo of Bell Media Press Room

The 2013 Winner of the Corporate Award is Bell Media


In November 2012, MBC member Cathy Smith of Windsor approached the Board with the idea of creating a Public Service Announcement that would run on radio stations in Canada.  Of course, MBC was thrilled with this offer, and Cathy got to work. 

The radio ad said, “If you have twins, triplets, or more, here’s a name you should remember: Multiple Births Canada.  This national registered charity is

dedicated to families like yours! Multiple Births Canada provides helpful information and local support. They have resources addressing the unique

challenges faced by families, professionals and educators who are expecting or care for twins, triplets, or more.  For more information and to find a chapter near you - visit Get the answers and support you need, any time, day or night, with Multiple Births Canada.”

This 30 second PSA ran across Canada on 15 Bell Media radio stations in Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Kitchener, Peterborough, Lindsey and Windsor.  It played almost 2,200 times between January and April of this year.  The in-kind value of this wonderful donation is approximately $111,500 dollars.  This publicity could never have happened without the drive from Cathy Smith, and the huge generosity from Bell Media.  From National Sales Coordinators, to programming directors, from production companies to voicing talent – Bell Media supplied it all at no cost to Multiple Births Canada.  For helping MBC to reach so many families across the country – and helping them to realize they are not alone and there is somewhere to go for help, information and support, Multiple Births Canada and the MADA committee is proud to present Bell Media with the 2013 Corporate Making a Difference Award.