The Sabrina Shannon Memorial Award is a Food Allergy Canada sponsored award, made possible through an educational grant from TD Securities. Two individuals in post-secondary school who have contributed significantly to the Canadian food allergy community are selected for a $1,000 award. The award is dedicated to the life of Sabrina Shannon.
This year, our winners are Maeve Gills and Aliegha Dixon. We commend them for their strong commitment to raising allergy awareness and educating others.
Meet Maeve Gillis
After being diagnosed with multiple food allergies as a young child, Maeve experienced first-hand the importance of connecting with others for support on how to confidently manage food allergy. Growing up in a rural town where the food allergy community is small, Maeve decided to volunteer with Food Allergy Canada to connect with more youth with food allergy.
Maeve is a second-year nursing student at Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia and has a passion for photography and coaching hockey. She has been involved with Food Allergy Canada’s Allergy Pals/Allies online mentorship program since the age of 9. Joining the program as a mentee, she learned from experienced mentors until the age of 11. From there she became a junior mentor, which eventually led to Maeve becoming one of the program’s lead mentors. Over the course of several years mentoring children with food allergy, Maeve has supported over 100 children in her groups.
During this time, Maeve took it upon herself to create her elementary school’s first ever allergy support group. With the supervision of a school guidance counselor, she led the group sessions on relevant topics such as birthday parties, school, friends, reading labels and dining out. The group helped young students cope, feel support, and know they have others to share and talk to who truly understood what there were feeling and going through. Maeve is continuing to provide support at her school, as she plans to help returning students start the support group back up this year following a hiatus due to pandemic restrictions.
Maeve has dedicated much of her time over the years to raising food allergy awareness to youth across Canada through her work as a Youth Advisory Panel member with Food Allergy Canada. Her work on social media, awareness campaigns, and as a panelist on education webinars have helped spread her impact far and wide.
We congratulate Maeve Gillis as a well-deserving recipient of this year’s award and look forward to her ongoing impact as she continues to be a champion for her community.
Meet Aliegha Dixon
Aliegha is a 20-year-old from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan who is allergic to peanuts. She enjoys reading about food allergy research and mastering allergy-friendly recipes.
Inspired by Food Allergy Canada’s resources and her personal experience navigating food allergy, Aliegha came up with a creative idea to literally amplify her voice to increase allergy awareness. She approached her local radio station and pitched the idea of creating a professional PSA (public service announcement) about food allergy. It was met with approval from the executives of 102.9 CFAR who started working with Aliegha on the script.
Using research and resources found on Food Allergy Canada’s website, two PSAs were developed which covered educational themes such as common symptoms, allergy prevalence, and how to help if someone is experiencing a severe reaction. The segments, which currently air throughout rural Manitoba, mention how people can learn to be more confident in managing food allergy through the credible resources on foodallergycanada.ca. Aliegha had a great experience working with the radio station and shared that the whole process creating the PSAs was very simple and fun. The 30-second audio segments will be in rotation for another year or more. Take a listen below!
We congratulate Aliegha on her creative efforts to raise food allergy awareness, and we are proud to name her as a recipient of this year’s award.