THUNDER BAY- Confederation College is proud to announce that Ramesh Ferris, Social Service Worker program graduate (2001), has won a provincial Premier’s Award. This prestigious award for graduates of Ontario’s Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology honours the important
social and economic contribution that college graduates make to Ontario and throughout the world. In total, there were 119 nominees in six categories from Ontario’s 24 colleges for this year’s awards.
Ramesh was selected as the award recipient in the Community Service category.
Ramesh is one of the most influential polio activists in the world, committed to eradicating the disease by 2018. He was born in India where he contracted polio, paralyzing his legs and forcing Ramesh’s birth mother to give him up for adoption. Ramesh was the first international adoption in the Yukon Territory.
After he graduated from Confederation College, he travelled back to India to reunite with his birth mother to thank her for her selfless act to give him a better life. It also gave him a glimpse into what his life would have been in the streets of India as a polio crawler, and he vowed to fight the disease.
Ramesh planned Cycle to Walk Canada in 2008, the largest polio awareness campaign in recent times. After
completing the 174-day journey across Canada on a 27-speed, three-wheel hand cycle, he now travels around the world to raise awareness about polio.
“Ramesh is a born leader,” says Jim Madder, Confederation College President. “He was a leader at the College as president of the student union. He has led by example, demonstrating what just one person can accomplish for others
with hard work, focus and dedication – all selfless characteristics of the social service worker he was educated to be.”
Ramesh has been compared by many to Terry Fox and Rick Hansen for his dedication to eradicating polio worldwide.
He says his approach did reflect his Social Services Worker training. “It provided me with the communication and advocacy skills to become a global polio advocate. And my college diploma gave me the credibility needed to open doors so I could educate and influence world leaders and important decision makers.”
By invitation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he spoke at a special United Nations Assembly on polio eradication, and he has spoken with many world leaders including Queen Elizabeth II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the leaders of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, United Kingdom, and Australia.
His biggest success came when Prime Minister Stephen Harper committed $250 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) this past April, the amount Ramesh had lobbied for during his five meetings with Prime Minister Harper since 2008. The Prime Minister has this to say about Ramesh: “Thanks to his leadership and vision, I am certain that we will continue to progress towards a polio-free world.”
Confederation College’s other 2013 Premier’s Award nominees were:
• Major Chris Beck, Aviation Flight Management, in the Technology category, and
• Chief Georjann Morriseau, Aboriginal Law and Advocacy, in the Recent Graduate category
Since the awards’ inception in 1992, Confederation College has been honoured to receive a total of six Premier’s Awards. The past recipients were:
2008 – Andrew Moorey, Entrepreneurship, Business Category
2004 – Major Doug Clements, Aviation Flight Management, Technology Category
1994 – Gino Sonego, Architectural (Design) Technician, Technology Category
1993 – Bradley C. A. Greaves, Aviation (Flight) Management, Technology Category
1992 – Mae V. Katt, Diploma Nursing, Health Sciences Category