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Sault honours two with the city’s Medal of Merit for 2023


The selection committee for the Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit has selected Dr. Chelene Christine Hanes and former MPP David Orazietti as the 2023 recipients.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie awards the Medal of Merit to individuals or groups who have achieved exceptional meritorious honours in athletics, cultural or academic fields or who make extraordinary contributions to the community.

“The Medal of Merit was established to recognize outstanding achievement in a given field, and contributions to the community over many years,” said Mayor Matthew Shoemaker in a news release.

“Dr. Hanes and Mr. Orazietti represent foremost examples of these qualities to celebrate with the city’s highest honour.”


The Sault is celebrating Hanes for her achievements in wildland fire research.

She was the first in her family to pursue postsecondary education, obtaining her undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Western Ontario and a PhD in forestry from the University of Toronto.

Hanes specializes in drought estimation, fire probability and modeling potential forest fires within Canadian landscapes.

City officials said Hanes has not only enhanced the scholarly landscape of the community but has also ignited a passion for climate change, forest fire and drought management amongst others.

Hanes’ current role as a Wildland Fire Research Scientist at Natural Resources Canada has her playing a pivotal role in enhancing the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System through field and lab-based research. The system supports effective wildland fire management strategies across Canada.

Dr. Chelene Christine Hanes in an expert on wildland fires in Canada and has been named a Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit recipient for 2023. (Image from LinkedIn)


Orazietti began his public service journey when he was elected to Sault Ste. Marie City city council at the age of 28.

City representatives said he was known for his exceptional political acumen and unwavering commitment to his constituents.

Orazietti later served four consecutive terms as the Member of Provincial Parliament for the Sault Ste. Marie riding, making history as the first MPP to be re-elected three times in his constituency. While in government, he also served in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

City officials said Orazietti’s impact on the community spans diverse sectors including industry, business, health care, education and social services.

Other acknowledgments for his outstanding service include the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce President's Award in 2016, and the Justice I.A. Vannini Award in 2017.

Also in 2017, Orazietti returned to the education sector as the Dean at Sault College,overseeing Aviation, Trades and Technology, Business, Environment and Culinary programs. He was recently appointed as president of Sault College this past summer following the retirement of Ron Common. In his new role, he continues to provide his leadership to both the institution and community.

"I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive the 2023 Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit,” Orazietti said in a news release from the college.

“This award is not just a personal achievement, but also a reflection of the collective efforts of countless individuals who have worked to strengthen our community. I share this honour with those who have supported me in doing the work I am passionate about and I am inspired to continue along this path.”

David-Orazietti is the president of Sault College and a former MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. He has been named a Sault Ste. Marie Medal of Merit recipient for 2023. (Image from LinkedIn)


The City of Sault Ste. Marie has been handing out its Medal of Merit since 1969.

Notable recent recipients include former mayor Steve Butland, retired Lt. Col. Lance Knox, the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre, the Indigenous language keeper Barbara Nolan and Dr. Gary Sibbald. Top Stories

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