Mental health advocate honoured

Written by Riley Witiw

FOR THE HERALD – May 27 2016

A long-time mental health advocate who hails from Lethbridge is one of the recipients of the newly established Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.

On April 12, Governor General David Johnston presented the medal to Austin Mardon, who grew up in Lethbridge. The presentation took place during an inaugural ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa commemorating 55 individuals receiving the award.

The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers is a national honour presented by the Governor General recognizing Canadians who have distinguished themselves by improving their communities with sustained, unpaid contributions.

“Awards like the Sovereign’s Medal are important because volunteers give something of themselves,” said Mardon. “A lot of people expect the government to do everything, but when people get together and contribute, we are able to do a lot more and reach more people than the government alone.”

Mardon received the award for multiple factors that met the award’s criteria, such as his longstanding advocacy for individuals with schizophrenia and his position as co-chairman of a psychosocial self-support group for people with schizophrenia called Unsung Heroes. Additionally, Mardon was recognized for his status as chairperson of the Clubhouse Society of Edmonton and Area – an organization that runs a clubhouse where those who are isolated and living with mental disabilities can receive support and express themselves through various forms of media.

“The Sovereign’s Medal means a lot because it represents something that I’ve dedicated my life to. I like to say I’m a professional volunteer and I look at it as an honour to serve. I tell people you get a lot more out of volunteering than the person that you’re helping gets. You benefit a lot more, you feel better about yourself, and you feel like you’re making a difference,” said Mardon.

Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson originally presented Mardon with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (CCA) for his contributions in 1999. The CCA was the predecessor to the Sovereign’s Medal and was created over 20 years ago to acknowledge those who volunteered their time and efforts for the benefit of others; however, this award was incorporated into and replaced by the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers in 2015, which continues to grow the legacy of the Caring award.

“Existing CCA recipients, such as Mr. Mardon, are eligible to receive the medal to complement their award,” said Marie-Pierre BŽlanger, a Media Relations Officer at the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.

Nominees for the Sovereign’s Medal are reviewed and assessed by the Medal for Volunteers Advisory Committee. Qualified representatives across the country who have experience in volunteering form the committee; however, candidates can be nominated by anyone through the online submission process that can be found on the Governor General’s website at


2013 RTNA Conference Call for Abstracts

October 9-11, 2013Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff AB

Call for Abstracts

You are invited to submit abstracts for either oral or poster presentations at the 2013 Research Transfer Network of Alberta (RTNA) Conference KT: Inspiring Change which will take place October 9-11, 2013 at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Banff, Alberta.  Please read the call for abstracts information carefully before downloading the abstract submission form on-line.

The theme of the conference is about being inspired to practice KT that results in positive change. To accomplish this, we need to focus on finding real solutions for real problems using evidence from research, tacit or experiential knowledge, and learning from other sectors to best inform decisions. We also need to explore tools and techniques that help stimulate change: how to engage audiences, develop partnerships and collaborations, use implementation science, and evaluate impact.

Conference Objectives:

  • Advance our understanding of and commit to using best practice in KT
  • Explore new and exciting options and formats for sharing knowledge
  • Engage stakeholders through the use of story
  • Stimulate partnerships and collaborations
  • Embrace KT learnings from other sectors
  • Encourage measurement and evaluation of social impact
  • Energize those around us to put ideas into action

Abstracts for projects or research on any aspect of knowledge translation are welcome.

The online submission process will be open until 11:59 p.m.(MST) on Friday, July 26, 2013. Abstracts will undergo a peer-review process and selected abstract authors will be notified in August 2013.

There will be an opportunity for presenters of accepted posters to do a two minute lightning talk during the program. All selected abstracts will be published in an abstract booklet whick will be provided to delegates at the conference.

Call for Abstract details and abstract submission form can be found at:

Catherine and Austin Mardon CM Schizophrenia Award

Alberta Mental Health Association
Edmonton, Alberta – Canada Austin Mardon, C.M. – appointed to the Order of Canada in 2006, is pleased to announce the establishment of an endowed award/scholarship at the University of Alberta for either a person with schizophrenia or a close family member. The award named, the Catherine and Austin Mardon CM Schizophrenia Award, will be dispersed once a year in the amount of $500.

His Honour, Col. (Ret’d) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell, who is founding patron of the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction, has said about the award, “I’m supportive of any initiative that works to make things a little easier for Albertans living with mental illness and to break down barriers and stigmas they may face. I hope the award will open new doors for its recipients.”

It will be administered under the Special Services department of the University of Alberta, which assists disabled students. The Director of Special Services, Dr. Wendy M. Doughty, said, “The University of Alberta is grateful for the generous donation to support students living with and experiencing schizophrenia. The Schizophrenia Award highlights the need to support our students and help remove barriers to student success. The financial commitment to endow this award demonstrates the dedication of the Mardon family to support access and opportunity at the University of Alberta.”

Austin Mardon commented that “it is noteworthy that this new award may well be the world’s first endowed scholarship at the university level that is for either a sufferer of schizophrenia or a family member.” Alberta Minister of Health Fred Horne says, “I commend Austin Mardon for creating this unique scholarship to help those affected by schizophrenia. Dr. Mardon is a remarkable advocate for greater understanding about this often misunderstood illness. The endowment award is a tribute to his tireless work to break down barriers for those struggling with schizophrenia and other mental health issues.”

Austin Mardon has said that it is his hope that this is just the first of several university endowed scholarships for the severely mentally ill that will be established at universities and colleges across Canada for those affected by schizophrenia. “Education can be a way out of

the ghetto of hopelessness that many with severe mental illnesses face. I, myself, had many barriers to my education once I became ill, some of them financial.” Austin Mardon has suffered from schizophrenia for much of his adult life and is the first person with schizophrenia to be a member of the Order of Canada. This is a devastating illness that effects 1 % of the world’s population and involves hallucinations and other thought disorders. Janseen Inc, a pharmaceutical company devoted to the treatment of this illness and to the improvement of the quality of life for all those with mental illnesses, has been kind enough to fully fund the first scholarship in the hope of inspiring others to further support the additional scholarships to come. Those interested in donating to this scholarship please contact Riyaz Sharan, Office of Advancement, University of Alberta telephone: (780) 492-8993 Email: . Online donations can be made through the following web site

For further information please contact:

Austin Mardon, CM, PhD

Telephone 780-378-0063 Email Website

Honour gift to the Catherine & Austin Mardon, C.M. Schizophrenia Award.

Edmonton — Honour gift to the Catherine & Austin Mardon, C.M. Schizophrenia Award.

Austin Mardon, PhD, has been a public educator and tireless advocate for the mentally ill, particularly those with schizophrenia, since he was diagnosed with that illness in 1992. At the time he was a promising graduate student and Antarctic explorer, and the diagnosis of schizophrenia could have ended his academic career and severely limited his prospects in life. Instead, he survived many setbacks through his sheer determination to continue his studies, to make a difference, to contribute to society, and to help others.

CLICK HERE to make a gift in honour of Austin, supporting the new Catherine & Austin Mardon, C.M. Schizophrenia Award at the University of Alberta.

CMA Awards Medal of Honour to Dr. Austin Mardon

OTTAWA, Aug. 16, 2011 /CNW/ – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) will present the 2011 CMA Medal of Honour to Dr. Austin Mardon, PhD, who has demonstrated outstanding public commitment to raising awareness of mental health issues and diminishing the stigma and discrimination faced by Canadians living with mental illness.

“The CMA Medal of Honour recognizes personal contributions to the advance of medical research and education,” said CMA President Dr. Jeff Turnbull. “Dr. Mardon has worked tirelessly to help Canadians better understand the issues around mental illness. In courageously talking openly about his own experiences, he is truly making a difference in coaxing mental illness out of the shadows in this country.”

Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of thirty, Dr. Mardon uses his own experience and his road to recovery in advocating in the areas of stigma, service delivery, awareness and education.  He tries to improve the lives of those with schizophrenia through public education. His efforts have led him meet with politicians, clergy, academics and others in positions to effect change. He has influenced public policy in Alberta through his service as vice-chair of the Alberta Disabilities Forum steering committee and as chair of its low-income working group; as a member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities; as an addiction and mental health committee member of Alberta Health’s service integration working group; and as chair of the Edmonton Champions’ Centre advisory committee. He also was instrumental in winning changes to Alberta’s income assistance program for the severely handicapped.

“I have put my experiences out there for all to see, but it hasn’t been easy and for some people it’s impossible,” said Dr. Mardon. “My goal continues to be to see the unfair and debilitating stigma our society holds against the mentally ill wiped out for all time.”

Austin Mardon, PhD, has been a public educator and tireless advocate for the mentally ill, particularly those with schizophrenia, since he was diagnosed with that illness in 1992. At the time he was a promising graduate student and Antarctic explorer, and the diagnosis of schizophrenia could have ended his academic career and severely limited his prospects in life. Instead, he survived many setbacks through his sheer determination to continue his studies, to make a difference, to contribute to society, and to help others.

Dr. Mardon graduated with a major in geography from the University of Lethbridge in 1985. The following year, at age 24, he was investigating meteorite impacts 170 km from the South Pole as a junior field member on an Antarctic meteorite recovery expedition sponsored by NASA and the National Science Federation. He received the U.S. Antarctic Service Medal for his work. However, the extreme hardships of the expedition affected him mentally and physically. While he went on to earn masters degrees in science (South Dakota State University) and education (Texas A&M University) and published a number of articles and books, his health issues persisted. At the age of 30 he was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Although some of his abilities are compromised by the disease, he earned a PhD in geography from Greenwich University, Australia; continued his remarkable publication record, including articles in both Science and Nature; was elected an International Fellow and Corresponding Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York; and was inducted into the International Academy of Astronautics.

Equally impressive has been his work on behalf of the mentally ill. In addition to giving countless interviews to the media on the topic of mental illness, he has published articles about faith and schizophrenia, homelessness, medication, and income support. He has provided leadership as a member of the board of directors of both the Edmonton and Alberta chapters of the Schizophrenia Society, and for a number of years he was coordinator of the Alberta Mental Health Self-Help Network.

“I hope to soon see the day when schizophrenia is treated like any other disease and is finally detached from the stigma that makes a difficult burden to bear even worse,” added Dr. Mardon.

Dr. Mardon has received a number of awards, including the Order of Canada (2007). Others include: the Flag of Hope Award (2001) and the Bill Jefferies Family Award (2007) of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada; the Distinguished Alumni Award of the University of Lethbridge (2002); the Presidents Award of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association (2002); the C.M. Hincks Award from the national division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (2007); and the Medal of Honour of the Alberta Medical Association (2010).

A popular member of the Speakers’ Bureau of Alberta, Dr. Mardon has publicly assisted the medical profession by supporting development of policy positions that have helped medical providers treat those with mental illness.

Dr. Mardon is the 28th recipient of the CMA Medal of Honour, the highest award bestowed upon someone who is not a member of the medical profession. He will receive the award at a ceremony at the D.F. Cook Recital Hall, Memorial University, in St. John’s, N.L., on Aug. 24 as part of the CMA’s 144th annual meeting.

[source: CNW News]


Austin Mardon Receives Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Alberta

Edmonton—Austin Mardon, an inspiring advocate for the mentally ill who has worked tirelessly to eliminate the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree tomorrow morning during the University of Alberta’s 2011 spring convocation ceremonies.

Mardon, a member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s CM Hincks Award, was a member of the Antarctic meteorite field expedition in 1986–87. He has published several dozen books and written 221 articles and abstracts in areas as diverse as astronomy, history and Antarctic research. Despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1992, he entered a distance learning PhD program in geography through Greenwich University in Australia in 1993 and received his doctoral degree in 2000. As a member of  Alberta’s Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, he has a major impact on policy direction and public perception.

EVENT:  University of Alberta 2011 spring convocation ceremonies

TIME: Ceremony at 10 a.m.

LOCATION:  Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, located on 114 St. and 87 Ave.

[source: University of Alberta Expressnews]


Austin Receiving the Order of Canada

Welcome and thank you for taking time to visit my newly designed website!  Using this website, I want to share with you what I am doing in and around the community. My intention always is to be as open as possible and share whatever information and opinions that I have as widely as possible. I will be posting on this blog often so please share with me your thoughts by registering at this new website and posting comments!

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Austin Mardon, Ph.D., C.M.