Each of VIATEC’s COVID heroes was awarded an “AstroDot” custom trophy made by local artist Russel Papp. (Courtesy of VIATEC)

Each of VIATEC’s COVID heroes was awarded an “AstroDot” custom trophy made by local artist Russel Papp. (Courtesy of VIATEC)

10 Greater Victoria people, businesses named COVID heroes

VIATEC announced the heroes in a livestreamed event Dec. 17

In lieu of its annual awards celebration, VIATEC livestreamed a one-time event Thursday to celebrate the exceptional contributions made by 10 Greater Victoria people and businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a normal year, the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC) recognizes companies, leaders and innovators in the technology sector with awards like Community Champion, Member of the Year and Technology Champion. This year, VIATEC instead asked the community to nominate the people and businesses that have made a difference during this difficult time.

“We had some folks nominate their caretakers, local business owners and even their neighbours for going the extra mile to make a difference,” Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC, said. “It was extremely inspiring to read all the nominations that came in, and it was extremely difficult for the judges to narrow it down to just 10.”

But, VIATEC managed to choose the following winners:

Mandy Farmer, CEO of Accent Inns and Hotel Zed. (Provided by Depepa Pillay)

Brianne Budlovsky: Budlovsky is an ER and cosmetic doctor who returned to work right at the start of the pandemic after taking a 6 month maternity leave. In March, she created an Instagram account, @doctorbri, to share COVID-19 information and thoughts. She now has over 3,000 followers.

Accent Inns and Hotel Zed Victoria: The hotel chain has housed cancer patients undergoing treatment, frontline workers in need of accommodation and, in Tofino, First Nations people who need to isolate. It has also given guests the option of donating 25 per cent of their room rate to Variety the Children’s Charity. At the start of the pandemic, CEO Mandy Farmer sent $250 grocery gift cards to all her employees – even those who were temporarily laid off.

READ ALSO: Accent Inns, Hotel Zed CEO earns prestigious award

The Rapid Relief Fund: The result of a coalition of businesses and philanthropic partners, the Rapid Relief Fund has provided support to vulnerable populations who have been impacted by COVID-19. Over 13,000 donors have contributed to the fund, and by April it was already nearing the $5 million mark.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria businesses rally for Rapid Relief Fund

Smaragda Agathoklis: Working as an outreach nurse, Agathoklis took on additional hours during the pandemic to support vulnerable community members in downtown Victoria. When she wasn’t at work, she was organizing clothing donation pick ups to bring to warm supplies to those living outside in established camping areas.

StarFish Medical: StarFish and over 100 of its staff immediately dedicated themselves to developing a ventilator that could be produced quickly to meet demand. Once approved by Health Canada, StarFish used its connections to source suppliers and get the product into production.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Saanich company joins nation-wide effort to produce 30,000 ventilators

Vancouver Island drag queen, designer and performer, Jimbo. (Submitted photo)

Jimbo: Performer, designer and drag queen, Jimbo took on a new project during COVID-19, called Mask 4 Mask. Jimbo and his assembly-line team make masks in colourful, fun patterns and for every one sold, they personally hand one to a homeless person. He says he’s been sewing for up to 18 hours a day.

READ ALSO: Riot unveils a colourful brew in honour of an Island drag queen

Delusional Theatre Society: The non-profit transformed Logan’s Pub’s weekly “Hootenanny” into a free livestreamed show, helping local artists to be seen internationally. The show has featured over 250 artists from all over Canada, the States, Europe and Australia and garnered over 25,000 views.

Redlen Technologies: Dedicated to designing and building radiation sensing equipment for medical and security purposes, it was essential that Redlen Technologies stayed open during the pandemic. The company also redeployed its 3D printers to make face shields and donated hundreds of N95 masks to the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

James Bay New Horizons Society: Staff at the senior citizens centre kept it open every week day to ensure elderly people had a place away from home where they could go rent books and DVDs. They also offered weekly produce and personal hygiene items to those who were struggling financially and filled requests for grocery shopping, prescription pick up, transportation to the Cancer Centre and meal delivery service. In total, the staff have organized grocery shopping for over 10,000 people in Greater Victoria and currently deliver prepared meals to 235 isolated clients.

The Vancouver Island COVID 3D Printing Group: The group coordinated over 100 volunteers to use 3D printers to create face shields and ear protector clips for medical masks. Coordinating with a Vancouver group, UVic and Vancouver Island Health Authority, the 3D printing group helped supply hospitals, ambulance stations, police and fire departments, senior homes, homeless support workers, rehab centres, among others.

Each hero was awarded an “AstroDot” custom trophy made by local artist Russel Papp.

The full video can be watched here.


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

AwardsCoronavirusGreater Victoria

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
COVID-19 exposure closes Oak Bay pub, restaurant

Penny Farthing, Vis-a-Vis expected to reopen Wednesday after deep clean

Victoria police officers used less-lethal weapons to arrest a woman Sunday night after she allegedly attacked a man with a hammer. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use less-lethal weapons on woman following hammer attack

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called to barricade situation

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

Victoria police are looking for Delmer Esau who was last seen in Esquimalt June 1. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Search continues for man last seen in Esquimalt

Delmer Esau, 35, hasn’t been seen since June 1

According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stood at 6.3 per cent in May 2021, nearly unchanged from April’s rate of 6.2 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
Unemployment rate in Greater Victoria stagnates at 6.3 per cent in May

Latest figures reflect conditions before lifting of public health measures

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Most Read