Presentation of “Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers” to Mrs Shirley O’Connell

MGen JS Sirois, Chief Engineer, presents the “Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers” to Mrs Shirley O'Connell 25 April 2019 (Photo by Canadian Forces Ottawa Base Imaging.)
MGen JS Sirois, Chief Engineer, and BGen Steve Irwin with Mrs Shirley O'Connell 25 April 2019  (Photo by MCpl Daniel Merrell)
Publication Date 
16 Jun 2019

At a most impressive event in Ottawa on 25 April Mrs Shirley O’Connell, the “Izzy Doll Mama,” was presented with the “Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers” on behalf of the Governor General of Canada. 

The Citation reads:

"In 2005, “Izzy Doll Mama” Shirley O'Connell took up the reins of this project that, in conjunction with related groups, has delivered more than 1.5 million knitted Izzy Dolls to children living in inhospitable conditions. She promotes the program, leads youth workshops, recruits knitters and coordinated the distribution of dolls with partner organizations, making a difference one doll at a time”

Mrs O’Connell had been asked by the GG’s Office for her preference of venue for the presentation. Of the options available, she had asked that it be presented by the Canadian Military Engineers because the Canadian Military Engineers had done much to help distribute the Izzy Dolls around the world and to help perpetuate this legacy of MCpl Mark Isfeld.

The CF Chief Military Engineer, Major-General J.S. Sirois, OMM, CD and the Colonel Commandant, Brigadier-General S.M. Irwin, CD (Ret'd) were most generous with their time in making the presentation Some 70 guests were in attendance at the NDHQ Warrant Officers' & Sergeants' Mess - split evenly between Mrs O’Connell’s family, friends and supporters and CME members from the Ottawa Area. Maj Watson, EA to MGen Sirois was the Master of Ceremonies. Senior appointments were dressed in their S1s for the occasion. 

Mrs O’Connell was presented with the Medal, a framed Certificate, and a CF Chief Military Engineer’s Coin. The CF Chief Military Engineer and the Colonel Commandant made the presentations accompanied by very kind words on behalf of the Governor General, the Canadian people, and the Canadian Military Engineers. Mrs O’Connell then addressed the audience and presented copies of Phyllis Wheaton’s book ”In the Mood for Peace: the Story of the Izzy Doll” and individual Izzy Dolls that she had knitted for the occasion.

A Coffee after the presentation allowed guests to mingle and meet with Mrs O’Connell to discuss her work with the Izzy Doll project over almost two decades.

For background click here to see The Izzy Doll Story