The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) Student Awards were created to showcase the upcoming talent we have within our growing emergency management community. The criteria sought after for the OAEM Student Awards are as follows: high academic excellence, volunteerism, a high level of enthusiasm and interest in emergency management field and contributions to the emergency management community.

About the Awards:

Brian Hook Memorial Award: 

This award is named after Major Brian Hook, who was a past president of OAEM. He attended Royal Roads and The Royal Military College, and served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons from 1971 to 1999. Following his retirement from the army in 1999, Major Brian Hook spent 3 years with the EMO in York Region before retiring again in 2002. He very much believed in helping students and giving back to your community, which is why we have the Brian Hook Memorial Award today.

The Brian Hook Memorial Award, which honours the memory of Major Brian Hook (CD), goes to a student who has made significant contributions to the field of Emergency Management while maintaining a high level of academic excellence. ($1,500)

A Normand Academic Award:

The award is named after Alain Normand, an author, lecturer, teacher expert in Emergency Management, and a past OAEM President. He directed relief efforts in emergencies such as the Saguenay floods, the Quebec Ice Storm, the Haiti repatriation, and the Calgary floods amongst others. He is the Emergency Manager for the City of Brampton, since 1999. Apart from being the past-President of the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM), he sits on many national, provincial and local committees. Alain Normand is the recipient of the 2010 Canadian Award for Emergency Management from the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness. He teaches emergency management and business continuity at York University and Sheridan College. Alain is also the author of a series of novels on emergency management published by Authorhouse and available at Alain was involved in the coordination of the City of Brampton emergency response to the December 2013 Ice Storm; and, Fort McMurray relief operations as a Red Cross volunteer, where he was an Emergency Response Team Leader

coordinating logistical aspects of national response from the Red Cross Mississauga Headquarters.

The A. Normand Academic Award is granted to a student who has showcased an exemplary academic paper relating to emergency management and/or business continuity. ($1,000)

President’s Award: 

As an association, the OAEM Board of Directors wanted to highlighted professionals who have gone back to school to either upgrade their level of academic learning or change professions, as professionals bring with them skills and experiences that can be of great assistance within the emergency management field. Furthermore, as a volunteer association, we wanted to highlight the contributions that these professionals have made to emergency management.

The President’s Award is granted to a professional who has chosen to enhance their emergency management knowledge, while contributing to the EM field and maintaining a high level of academic excellence. ($500)


Brian Hook Memorial Award Winner: Julie Chambers from York University

Julie is currently a candidate for a Master of Disaster and Emergency Management (MDEM) at York University where she also completed her undergraduate degree and certificate in emergency management. Though emergency management has been a passion for Julie for several years, the combination of her work experience and education ignited her interest in pursuing disaster and emergency management (DEM) in an academic setting. Within emergency management, her most recent roles include working and/or volunteering with the Rosedale-Moore Park Association, Toronto Pride, and the City of Burlington. Additionally, Julie leads the York University Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) as President. Julie’s specific interests in the field are climate change and environmental sustainability, psychosocial elements of disaster and emergency management, and critical infrastructure protection. With her Master’s degree, Julie hopes to work on developing sustainable policies, plans, and programs to enhance the capabilities of local communities and organizations. Through her work with DEMSA she hopes to collaborate with the DEM community within and outside of the MDEM program to foster a positive experience for the all DEM students.

From left to right: Michael Hook (son of Major Brian Hook) and Julie Chambers

A Normand Academic Award Winner: Jennifer Martin from Royal Roads University

Jennifer is a current student with Royal Roads University in the Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management (MA DEM) degree program. Her academic career started at Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours Bachelor degree in Global Studies, with a minor in Sociology. After working for a couple of years, Jennifer pursued the Emergency Management Graduate Certificate from Fanshawe College. Through this certificate’s practicum, Jennifer worked on a project with the City of Hamilton creating and formatting questions for their community emergency preparedness outreach program. After a year of working in the environmental emergency response industry, Jennifer pursued her MA DEM journey. Jennifer has a background as a client service representative taking insurance claims during a number of disaster events such as; Hurricane Sandy, floods in numerous Canadian regions, windstorms in Alberta and ice storms in Southern Ontario to name a few. She has also recently assisted with student development activities at Sheridan College with their Emergency Management program. Jennifer continuously attends training sessions to boost her knowledge and professional development, most recently in Incident Management System (IMS 300 and 250) and the Emergency and Continuity Management Standards (CSA Z1600). Jennifer’s future goals are to gain more hands on experience in the DEM field through the internship track of the MA DEM program.

From left to right: Nicole Normand, Alain Normand and Jennifer Martin

President’s Award Winner: Serenna Besserer from Algonquin College

Serenna Besserer is in her seventh year of working for the Canadian Red Cross. During her first six years on the job she was the Disaster Management Community Services Coordinator and responsible for a very large district in North Eastern Ontario encompassing over 40 Municipalities and First Nation Reserves. Serenna managed a team of 100 Volunteers in her district by providing coordinated Red Cross Emergency Management program services. Serenna also managed the community’s homeless prevention initiative program in coordination with the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board. During Serenna’s six years as the Disaster Management Community Services Coordinator she has managed Municipal & Multi Municipal emergencies as well as assisted in Provincial, National and International responses. Serenna has also managed the annual spring flood evacuations of James Bay communities.

In 2016 Serenna was promoted as the Assistant Manager to the James and Hudson Bay coastal Red Cross offices, responsible for all programs. She currently manages the staff along the James and Hudson Bay, and is helping to build community resilience through public education, building community partnerships and prepositioning disaster relief supplies and trained volunteers. Serenna’s next goal is to enroll in the Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management program to aid in her professional growth within the EM field. Her passion is disaster management and to continue to help people affected by disasters.

From left to right: Past Presidents Alain Normand and Mike Hand, Serenna Besserer and current President Mike O’Brien

Comments are closed.